Plant Stall & May Update

It’s been a busy May and I’m pleased with how most things are progressing.

One thing I am especially proud of happened towards the end of the month. On the second bank holiday weekend, the Horticultural Society hold a plant stall in Pickering Market Place, where members are welcome to sell their surplus plants. I took with me my abundance of tomatoes, plus courgettes, cucumbers and butternut squashes, all which had only that week begun to sprout so were very young. The society took half of the proceeds and we got to keep half, so I sold £25 worth of product, which meant I came home with a grand total of £12.50. It might not sound much, but I was very proud.

I brought home a lot of stock, so since our hens are on holiday at the moment, I made a new sign for the bathroom counter at the end of the drive and have started selling my extra tomato plants. On the first day I was so pleased to find a crisp £5 note waiting for me. Now I need to see what else I don’t need that somebody else might be able to make use of.

Elsewhere, things seem to be growing. In the brassica bed, in an attempt to thwart the continuous threat of cabbage root fly, we covered it with a tight mesh weighted down with bricks and tent pegs. I have some nasturtiums which I have heard the caterpillars love munching on so they might end up being sacrificed for the sake of my vegetables. But the mesh – more of a fleece than the enviromesh stuff – has in fact created a little micro-climate and everything has suddenly shot up unexpectedly, broccolis to salad and lettuce leaves. I had to thin out my seedlings, and have pricked out a few stronger ones into trays. If they do alright they might go at the end of the drive.

The other bed was looking a bit sorry, so in an attempt to replicate my (so far) successes with the brassica bed, I put more mesh on that side. We will see if it helps. In here I have carrots, parsnips, onions, beetroot, spring onions, radishes and a row of flowers. Some things are germinating quickly and others not so much. After a bright start to the month, with persistent sunshine, the last week or so have been a bit muggy and there hasn’t been much consistent sun. I’m hoping the mesh will act as a little mini greenhouse.

In the actual greenhouse I have growbags with tomatoes and cucumbers in, plus plants in pots for growing on a bit. My avocado that I grew from a Pinterest tutorial has new shoots this year, which is very exciting, however I do think the bad winter finished my pomegranate off, which is very sad.

We realised we are missing runner and green beans, so I think I will just buy plants from a garden centre and plant them in bags with sticks to climb up. I also realised, whilst thinning out my brassicas, that what I thought were green cabbages are in fact green calabrese, and I have no cabbages. So I will see if I can grow some for later on in the year.

How is your growing going?

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May madness

It’s nearly the end of May already – time has just flown by. After the terrible weather in March and April, we’ve had a long spate of warmth and dryness – to the point where the ground is rock solid and all our silage grasses are crying out for a good rain shower. It’s been good for more controlled growing – namely my seedlings in pots and trays. I’ve had some problems and some poor doers, but I’ve had some real success stories (so far, anyway).

Tomatoes have done very well this year. I’ve always found tomatoes are very easy to germinate, as I’m sure most people do. This year I’ve grown three varieties: Gardener’s Delight, Moneymaker and Alicante. I started them all in the heated propagator, some in January and some in March, and have potted them all on. The plants from January’s sowings are monsters now. I cleaned out the greenhouse and have popped a couple of plants in there to grow. The rest I’m going to take to the Plant Stall on Saturday.

Cucumbers have been sown in two batches. I sowed six lots and four germinated. As they always sell well at the Stall, I have sown a successive lot though so far no germination, but it’s only been a couple of days. I used La Diva from Sarah Raven.

Squashes and Courgettes have seen me with a slight problem, in that they have germinated at the same time and there are no labels and somehow they’ve all gotten muddled up. Twitter might have to help me here!

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Squash or courgette? Who knows?

I also seem to have a bit of a floppy stem syndrome going on with some of them. I know they are meant to spread length-ways but I don’t remember ever having such floppy plants. Maybe they’re a little shy?! My squashes are from Sarah Raven and Courgette from Dobies (check).

In the raised beds, I sowed five lots of brassicas – cauliflower (All the Year Round), broccoli (Calabrese), romanescobrussel sprouts (Brigitte) and sprouting broccoli. Some of these were new seeds – sprouts and the cauliflower – but others were old seeds, particularly the romanesco which I found unopened in my seed box. They have all germinated, some better than others. I planted them in the bed into a compost mulch mixed with a generous helping of growmore, and as last year Mum had an issue with cabbage root fly, we are going to mesh them and hopefully monitor very closely.

I have put a lot of salad leaves in, as this time of year we eat a lot of salads, and I’m usually left a bit wanting by the selection in the supermarket. I’ve sown rocket, mixed leaves and red mustard, which have all germinated, and further sowings of All the Year Round and Edox lettucesmizuna and watercress. I sowed lambs lettuce and Cos lettuce from old seed packets and nothing came. I do like lambs lettuce so I might have to get a packet. I’m excited about the Edox variety which I got from the Dobies catalogue.

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Hello seedlings!

We’ve also sown two lots of spring onions as well as the classic super-fast growing radish.

In the next bed, I’ve tried to be crafty to fend off the evil carrot root fly, and have sown carrot (Autumn King) interspersed with onion (an onion-shallot mix from Dobies called zebrune), plus some parsnip (Hollow Crown – I couldn’t resist the name, though it is an old packet so we shall see if anything happens) and beetroot. I would quite like to pickle my own beetroot, and have a go at pickling carrot as well. When we’re in Germany they give us the nicest pickled carrot mix with our salad and it’s so yummy, but I can never find it in the Rewe supermarket so it must be a homemade mix.

We have lots of potatoes in bags. I use loads of potatoes and my idea is to try and grow ourselves what I buy the most of in the shops. I’ve had such bad experiences with potatoes from both the Lidl and Morrisons. I have thought about buying a great big bag from outside farms, but I might as well just grow my own.

Flowers-wise, there’s so much going on, I haven’t a clue where to begin, or even if things are going right. My lobelia, pansies and petunia all did really well then have come to a stop. Similarly I potted up my gaura and they’ve grown well then have flopped. I have one dahlia coming which is super exciting, and I potted up the other two only recently so fingers crossed they will come. I have verbascum coming, which I have just potted on, plus impatiens, nasturtium and of course loads of sweet peas. I’m wondering whether my little plants need a week in the greenhouse where it’s a little hotter to try and spur them on a bit.

I’ve sown, a bit late of course, some dichondra and begonia and they’re sat on a sunny windowsill in a propagator. My alstroemeria did nothing, very disappointing but I know they are very tricky to start from seed. In the garden of my old house I found a new plant that had obviously grown itself from a rhizome so that’s made up for the seed-related problems, plus when I was digging up my border I discovered a variegated one growing merrily away in amongst all the weeds. I had a poor do with the fuchsia – one very sickly-looking seedling out of two attempts, but I found a plant in the old house with lots of new shoots on it, so that’s been potted up and seems to be happy.

Soon it will be hanging basket time! I have four brackets to put up around the house, which means I need to get another two baskets. Hanging basket time is one of my favourite times in the garden, and I would like to make a few to sell, as I do think I make pretty good baskets.

How is your garden coming along in the May madness? Let me know in the comments!

An Update from My Garden

It’s been a quiet few weeks; sorry about that! I’ve not been very well – I had an awful cold and mega headaches, and even the thought of looking at a computer screen was enough to send me off to bed!

This weekend I’ve been in my garden a lot! April is past the midway point now so things are definitely coming on. My best friend Amy came to help on Saturday: I was meant to be passing on my wisdom but it was more about sharing the work!

We build my salad planter (see picture below), filled it with compost and planted out the spinach and mixed leaves from the greenhouse, dug in the shredded paper from my Minimalist Challenge into the second bed to retain water, repotted the squashes and pumpkins that were poking the roots out, and the courgettes too; we then sowed four different carrots (Harlequin, Red Samurai, Baby carrots and Chanteray), parsnips and salsify in that bed; we planted out the rest of my potatoes, and finally we sowed my Rosella tomatoes! Amy went away with a little courgette and some spinach in pots.

Sunday I sowed All Year Round lettuce, after discovering that Dad can’t stand mixed leave salads (apparently they’re “the weeds that grow at the side of the road”), and the pak choi from the greenhouse into the planter. I then weeded my caulis and cabbages, and sowed some fresh cabbage and broccoli for later in the year. In the papered bed I also sowed some turnips and shallots.

It’s been a busy weekend! I managed a little time with my camera.

Bought from Yorkshire Trading, this is to be my salad planter. I have spinach (back right), mixed leaves (front right), and have now sown All Year Round lettuce (front left) and Pak Choi (rear left).
Bought from Yorkshire Trading, this is to be my salad planter. I have spinach (back right), mixed leaves (front right), and have now sown All Year Round lettuce (front left) and Pak Choi (rear left).
Rosella Tomatoes (for all I keep calling them "Roselia" like the Pokemon!), these are to be dark red cherry tomatoes.
Rosella Tomatoes (for all I keep calling them “Roselia” like the Pokemon!), these are to be dark red cherry tomatoes.
Look at these bad boys! These are my courgettes (black beauty) and with the lovely warm weather we've had they've come on greatly.
Look at these bad boys! These are my courgettes (black beauty) and with the lovely warm weather we’ve had they’ve come on greatly.
These are my Dutch tomatoes (cherries) at the far back, with some Ailsa Craig tomatoes in the fore. There are some peppers hidden somewhere in between if you can see! These have been inside for about a month, and I've brought them into the greenhouse.
These are my Dutch tomatoes (cherries) at the far back, with some Ailsa Craig tomatoes in the fore. There are some peppers hidden somewhere in between if you can see! These have been inside for about a month, and I’ve brought them into the greenhouse.
Here you can see my cucumbers! 5 for 5! So pleased. There are courgettes as well round the edges, but I'm very pleased with my cucumbers! Fingers crossed I can keep them going.
Here you can see my cucumbers! 5 for 5! So pleased. There are courgettes as well round the edges, but I’m very pleased with my cucumbers! Fingers crossed I can keep them going.
Beans! Look at the size of them! These are runners down the middle, mangetout towards the left, which are lovely and flouncy, and on the right edge, dwarf beans.
Beans! Look at the size of them! These are runners down the middle, mangetout towards the left, which are lovely and flouncy, and on the right edge, dwarf beans.
Mange-touty! Last year I grew mangetout from store-bought plants, but I've started these from seed and they look pretty darn good!
Mange-touty! Last year I grew mangetout from store-bought plants, but I’ve started these from seed and they look pretty darn good!

 

Getting Ready for Spring… The New Raised Bed Diaries

Hello all!

After a weekend away, I’ve been back in my garden. 

It’s nearly March. March is the biggie month – the start of it all! ‘Spring’ is just around the corner, and things start heating up – hopefully figuratively and literally!

I’ve filled my greenhouse up with trays of sown seeds… as yet not much is happening. So far I’ve sown:

  • Various kinds of tomato (moneymaker, Ailsa Craig, sun gold, black cherry)
  • Leeks (I got free with my subscription to Kitchen Garden magazine)
  • Ailsa Craig onions, as recommended by DT Brown
  • Red Baron onions, which as the name suggests, are red onions!
  • All year round cauliflowers
  • And some cayenne peppers from seed, which Nana kindly gave to me, though with a warning that they were a little out of date, and should be sown with a pinch of salt.

So far, not much has happened, except…

I made a vlog! Check it out:

Who knew I had such a strong Yorkshire accent? Looking back at my video, I laughed for about half an hour over how I pronounced ‘greenhouse’. Anyway! This video seems to chiefly be about my cauliflowers. Here’s a pic of them!

I counted 29 little seedlings here - they're going strong!
I counted 29 little seedlings here – they’re going strong!

Whoa! Look at these bad boys! I counted, and I have 29 cauliflower seedlings! These, added to the two strong cauliflower plants that have overwintered on the bed itself, bring me up to 31 of the vegetable! Now, if you read my blog last year, you will recall that I had an issue with cauliflowers…

They all got eaten! They came on great, grew to a couple of inches high, and then I sowed by them some infected radish, or maybe there was already something nasty in the soil. Either way, a whole crop of radish, turnip and my cherished caulis were wiped out by nasty horrid maggotty things. Many tears were shed!

So this year I’m doing things proper. I’ve got my cabbage collars. Those pesky bugs aren’t getting anywhere near my brassicas! I’ve bought netting and all sorts. Last year was a trial run. This year it’s serious stuff!

What have you guys started at the moment? Have you got any seedlings coming up yet?

Katy

x

A Mysterious Order…

Hello gardening and blogging friends!

I received a mysterious parcel the other day. It was a cardboard box and this is what it looked like:

Live plants?! Whatever could be in here...?
Live plants?! Whatever could be in here…?

How mysterious!

I quickly tore into the box to reveal:

POTATOES!
POTATOES!

These are my extra earlies, from DT Brown. They are called Casablanca and there’s about thirty of them in here! I got a big box, lined it with lots of shredded paper (utilising my shredder, which is my favourite gadget at the moment, shredding all my documents from uni), and put them in that, and put the box in the shower room, where it’s cool but dry and light (as no one uses the shower in there, and it’s basically now turned into a potato chitting factory and is the place where my riding hat languishes, unused and unloved).

Now a few weeks later, they’re chitting away, so I shall have to think about getting some soil and getting ’em planted out.

Top tip! Ideal soil for potatoes to be grown in containers or potato sacks – mole hills! Mr Mole has kindly done a lot of the work for you: mole hills are good loamy soil. Just make sure a well-intentioned dog-walker hasn’t used said mole hill as a clever hiding place for a doggy bag! We have lots of hills on our fields that the dog walkers *shouldn’t* get to, so I might get the quad and trailer out, and go get a load of soil. That’ll possibly be next weekend’s job.

Happy gardening!

Katy x

The Big Allotment Challenge

Has anyone else been watching The Big Allotment Challenge? Already it’s over – it seems to have gone by so soon. I was pleased: one evening I live-tweeted, and The Big Allotment Challenge favourited my tweet! And then all of a sudden I had an influx of twitter followers – I was ever so pleased!

It’s been very useful to watch for me, as an amateur grower. Though personally I did think that more time could have been spent on the how to grow section. Something so very difficult to grow, like a cauliflower, was over and done with in a flash. No mention of cabbage collars – and the little seedlings had them on! And naturally, I have a history with cauliflowers, considering all of last year’s crop was wiped out.

Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed this year’s programme. I do find it a bit of an odd piece of scheduling: on a Friday night? Surely such a programme is more suited to a mid-week, Bake-Off slot? But I suppose I don’t know much about those sorts of things.

This year is my proper growing year in earnest. Last year was my training year: it started a bit late on, and I was greenhouse-less. This year I’m going for it, all guns blazing! I have my greenhouse – with shelves!! – and my two beds, and I have ordered my seeds, and my seed potatoes, and my potato grow bags.

One day I may even be a contender for The Big Allotment Challenge! I wanted Jojo or Rob to win, so I was very pleased for Rob. Poor Jojo did have a bit of a mare in this last episode. I didn’t much like Sandra: I thought she was manipulative, and her cruel remarks about the youngest contestant in the early episodes did stay with me. What utter growing heaven though! Heated greenhouse, a huge plot, and all within the lovely enclosed walls. But I don’t think my garden is too bad.

January Start

This is a post I apparently started on January the 21st, and didn’t get any further than the title! Whoops.

Anyway, here I am, rectifying that moment of madness on my part!

It is January! Hurrah! Or rather, it was January. It’s now February, but we’re doing this retrospectively. This means it’s the start of the growing year. And since I have my greenhouse, I can start! And if you perhaps saw my other post (Windy Day at Windy Farm, https://notmuchofayoungfarmer.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/windy-day-at-windy-farm/), you will have known that my poor greenhouse suffered a major casualty earlier on in the year: in the bad winds, all the glass in the back wall blew out! Thankfully my lovely daddy went and got me some more glass, and then he worked some magic on my door, and now all is well!

I’ve been looking forward to getting out in my greenhouse ever since the end of summer, really. I guess part of it was probably because I was so unhappy doing my teacher training, and doing something physical and quite personal, like starting off my garden (properly this year) was something so removed from what was making me unhappy – and yet, in December certainly, was looking like something I would never have time to do.

Time to get started!

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As you can probably see from the pic, I have sown out:

  • Cauliflower (All Year Round)
  • Tomato (Ailsa/Alisa (?) Craig)
  • Onion (Red Baron)
  • Leek (Autumn Mammoth)

It may seem early, but I did them as per packet instructions! It was the best feeling to be out in my greenhouse (it was very cold, so I had a nice flask of hot chocolate with me), working with compost and seeds – though my back was aching at the end of it!

Now, if you recall, I have had issues with cauliflowers in the past… My last batch fell prey to horrendous grubs: some cabbage root fly or other such pest. But this year I am taking no prisoners! They do say cauliflowers are the hardest things to grow, but I will give them my all! I’ve ordered cabbage collars (I’m not going to lie, a little bit in love with that alliteration) from the Dobie’s catalogue, and I also ordered some netting (from Achica, of all places!), so, fingers crossed.

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Heaven in a picture! A flask, a Sharpie, and a mess!

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And so here they are! The tomatoes are in the propagator, and the rest in modules. It’s relatively warm (ish) in the greenhouse, and a little bit more so in the prop, so hopefully, with a bit of luck, in a few weeks I can have pictures of little green nubs!

Katy

x

 

Windy Day at Windy Farm

Happy New Year! This is my first blog post in a long, long while, but I’ve had a lot on my plate at the moment – something which I will discuss in a later post. However I hope I should have more time to spend blogging, as I’ve been a very bad blogger in the past!

Perhaps God is an avid blog reader, and was quite cross that I hadn’t updated in a while… Disaster struck at Windy Farm!

After having a pretty rubbish week – rubbish in some ways, but also good in others – I was looking forward to a weekend to myself, mainly in my greenhouse. Was it last weekend when it was really windy? The wind had destroyed my plastic cloche, and so everything which had been overwintering in there had been moved into the greenhouse. I was planning on starting off some tomatoes in my propagator. However I got up on Saturday morning, firstly to a fallen-down tree in the garden:

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Check out that disaster! This is in the “back” garden which is the “front” garden as you approach the house. In the foreground you can see my two apple trees: how it missed the tree to the right I have no idea. The tree was in the hedge, and it had been part of a split-trunk: as the weaker trunk, it took the brunt of the wind a little too badly, and fell over.

But that wasn’t all…

I went to make my cup of tea, and looked up towards my beds and my greenhouse. From the kitchen window I can see the front door of my greenhouse (so the photo below is from the back, as if I was stood in the pond). I could see something shiny on the grass behind the greenhouse. A sinking feeling in my stomach, I went out (in my dressing gown, in the 80mph winds) to investigate.

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The wind had blown the entire back of my greenhouse out, and smashed the majority of the glass on the floor. To say I was gutted doesn’t even cut it!

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The greenhouse has a sliding door that doesn’t seem to close properly. We think the wind blew the door open and got into the house itself, and then blew the glass out. Luckily the glass didn’t get on any of the plants, and a couple of pieces were still in tact.

So there goes my weekend! So we need to get new glass (which is a pain, because when we opened the glass in the first place some of it was smashed), and also try to fashion some kind of latch to fasten the door.

Just another windy day at Windy Farm!

Did your gardens suffer any damage too in the wind?

An Early October Recap

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I’ve been a bad blogger of late! I don’t think I’ve made a post in about a month – but I do have a perfectly legitimate reason! This September I started my teacher training course, and have been commuting to Leeds through the week, so when I’ve not been absolutely exhausted from the drive, I’ve had a huge pile of assignments to plough through. And now that I’ve got a placement school, I’ll soon have teaching to focus on! So not only has my blog been neglected, but so has my garden!

As a quick break though from uni work (lesson planning and progression maps and lesson objectives and differentiation……) I hacked around in my beds for a while, and then took some photos. If you look at the top photo, you can see my two beds in the centre and to the left – but what’s that, to the right? That metal frame? Could it be… the base to a greenhouse?!

To recap! It was our annual village show a couple of weekends ago, and so I abandoned all uni work in order to dig up all my carrots, beetroots, onions and whatever else I could find in order to enter everything. As a first time grower my expectations were not high.

OK, that’s a lie. My expectations were very high, and thus were dashed on the ground like a spilled tray of something small and seedy. Which sounds quite dodgy. But basically, the standards in my village are so high, potentially because most of the other contenders are, ah, how can I say it? ‘More mature’, with many more years’ experience of growing stuff.

As it stands now, my beds are looking a bit bare and unloved. (Hmm, there’s a pun in there somewhere!)

Look how scruffy the edge looks! There’s another job to do…

Mum kindly planted out a load of leeks for me a few weeks ago, and my previously caterpillar-stripped kale have fluffed up again, so they look nice and bountiful again. I then sowed a load of cabbages, cauliflowers (second time’s a charm?), some more kale (because I looove it) and some fancy sprouting broccoli that doesn’t really look like broccoli. So the left hand bed may look a bit sad but it is full of potential!

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This is the “chard” bed – they seem to be HUGE in the left side and not so huge in the right side. Hmmm…

Different story in the right bed. I had let a few chards go to seed and they went out of control, so today I hacked them up and the last of the lettuces. That bed is now full of about three rows of rainbow/rhubarb chard, and a few rangy carrots. Looks like we’ll be living on chard and kale through the winter!

I do have plans for that bed, somewhere, in the back of my mind, when I have a minute. Those plans are in a similar sort of dreamworld that involves revamping my blogs and recolonizing the sewing room as my study once again. Is that a flying pig?!

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Oh no, wait! It’s a snoring Bilbo!

I also discovered some little surprises when I was weeding, and while I know some people will cry “weeds! weeds, dig them out!” I thought they were too lovely, and so have left them in.

The Raised Bed Diaries – An Extended Absence

It’s been a while! I apologize unreservedly, but you know, I have essays to write… work to do… and while I have been in my garden, and have been taking photos, this has failed to translate into any blog posts!

I can’t even remember what my last blog post was. However I’m sure the beds have changed quite drastically…

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On the left, I have, from front to back, garlic and the invisible asparagus, then two rows of late onions sown from bulb, then a line of kale that has just started sprouting, and a few little plants of radish that I grew in the cloche. My spinach has escalated out of control and desperately needs chucking in a pan with some butter and wilting down. I’ve had some strange problems with my mangetout: I have two very fine plants either end, and then in the middle, a load of dead or dying specimens! Not quite sure what’s gone on there. Then behind them I have my rows of onions which are surely not far off now.

On the right, from front to back, I have two rows of carrots, which I began to thin out possibly a bit prematurely, so am hanging fire with those; then I have a row of Swiss chard which seems to be coming up nicely, then I have sown another line of onions from bulbs, and a new sowing of rhubarb chard. Beyond that I have some Cos lettuces which are coming up rather nicely to the right of the bed and rather not at all to the left; the same is true for the turnips behind, which I don’t seem to be so lucky with; however I have about fifteen little cauliflowers all coming up grand behind them. Finally I have four rows of beastly beetroots, but I pulled one up and it was about the size of a ten pence piece and a similar sort of depth.

It is our local Horticultural Society’s Open Gardens this weekend, so must get my beds sorted and in tip-top shape!

I will continue (I hope) to post more. Ta ta for now!