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!

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January Sowings

I’m so excited! Garden season is finally getting underway. The mornings are getting a little bit lighter, the days that bit longer, and hopefully we’ve seen the last of the snow.

Last week both of my seed orders arrived and I bought myself a little treat – an electric propagator! The temperature in the summer house isn’t enough for my little seedlings and I worried about putting my seedlings on the south-facing windowsill in the little bedroom because I have a cat that just has to jump in windows.

This is my propogator.

I had seen it in the DT Browns/Mr Fothergills catalogues at £37.95 + P&P. Mum had mentioned she’d seen them in our local mecca, Steam and Moorland near Pickering. I called in at Yates’s instead for a rekkie, and would you believe it, I found it – for only £29.95! Still £29.95 more than I really had since it’s three days before pay day and I’m still suffering from Christmas, but if I’m really going to make a go of this, it’s a necessary buy.

It has seven mini-propogators. You could buy some with four, or with just one great big one, but this way I can sow seven different seeds and keep them separate. Most of my seeds need to be in the 15 – 20C or 20 – 23C range, barring two, my dichondra (which was the most expensive set of seeds) and my impatiens which need to be kept at 21 – 23C. The propogator doesn’t have a temperature control, however it will increase the ambient temperature. My idea is that during the day, on warmer days, I won’t have it on, but during the night when it can be a bit colder, I’ll turn it on. This way it hopefully won’t hit my electricity bill as much either.

On Sunday afternoon, I spent a couple of hours in the summerhouse and have started sowing things. I filled all seven mini propogators and have placed it upstairs in its new home.

I’ve started:

  • Lobelia Fountains Mixed
  • Petunia DTB Special Mix Grandiflora
  • Pansy Cool Summer Breeze
  • Antirrhinum Magic Lanterns
  • Fuchsia Foxtrot
  • Gaura The Bride
  • And Moneymaker tomato, as I found a packet still in date (just).

My gaura is for the cut flowers, the rest are for baskets and planters. I really like gaura and bought a potted plant from the market last year and it bloomed all summer. The seeds were free on the Mr Fothergill’s buy 5 get the cheapest free option. My idea is to grow what I can, mainly for my baskets, but if I have an abundance to then sell them on as bedding plants, keeping some back to make up premade baskets and planters to sell.

In the summerhouse I have sweet peas as well.

I will keep you updated with how they get on – if they germinate!

Have you started sowing anything yet? Let me know in the comments!

 

The Raised Bed Diaries 2017

When I first started this blog, it was about two things: Dickie, my little blue Subaru, and gardening. I was never much into gardening when I was young – always much more interested in reading and writing and that sort of thing. But when we moved to the farm, I decided I wanted to try my hand at vegetable growing. So my dad made me a pair of raised beds out of old railway sleepers and got me a little greenhouse that every time a storm struck, all the glass blew out of. True to my bookworm roots I bought loads of books on veg growing and started out. The first year was quite successful, the second year somewhat so, and then the third year I had moved into my house and my weekends seemed to get filled up doing other things. Mum kept the beds going, but I hadn’t manured either of them since the beginning and our land is sandy, hungry land that doesn’t do much on its own.

Continue reading “The Raised Bed Diaries 2017”

My summer garden – an update

This summer so far has been a bit of a funny one – I’m quite sure last year we’d had a good long spell of scorching weather, and I’m sure my tomatoes were much further on than they are this year. I’m praying for a late bit of warmth – extend the season into September. Greenhouse growing isn’t maybe going so well… my tomatoes and cucumbers are doing very well at, ah, growing tall and shooting out lots of leaves; not so well on the setting fruit side of things.

An experiment I did this year involved something I found on Pinterest… growing an avocado bush! Bush? Tree? Plant? It started with the core of an avocado, suspended via cocktail sticks over a glass of water, until it showed a root. I then potted it out and left it in the greenhouse where it would hopefully be warm enough for it. And…voila! An avocado shoot! Pretty impressed.

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Another experiment, or maybe aim should I say, of this year was to achieve what I failed to do last year. If you read my last post (see it here) you might have been surprised (as the feedback I got suggested from a few people!) to read about my success… in growing a cauliflower. Just the one! But check it out:

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I spy with my little eye…?

IMG_6760Obviously I failed a little with the zoom capacity on my camera here. But there’s my cauli, about ready to eat! Any suggestions on how to serve him and do him justice?

I seem to be doing well with my brassicas this year! Here’s a humongous Savoy cabbage:

IMG_6761Doesn’t quite look like the store-bought variety but I bet he tastes grand. I’ve already had two of my greyhound cabbages – they are delish! Here’s a third one: 

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I’ve been serving them up a variety of ways: in summer coleslaws (obvs), or fried cabbage and bacon, and yesterday I gently pan-fried some with some grated courgette to accompany my lamb chops I had for tea!

So my garden is going OK outside. Some of my carrots have bolted, maybe because of the confusing weather. Looks like we might have some home-grown potatoes soon!

So all in all, fairly pleased.

How is your garden growing? Are you having better luck with tomatoes than I am?! If you have any pro tips, let me know!

Thanks!

Katy x

 

A Rainy Day Recap – A Break from #summerschoolmadness

It’s been a while since I’ve done much blogging. I work in a company that runs summer schools so naturally we’re entering our busy time! Since I’m in recruitment, this is pretty much the story of my life – getting emails like this:

Activity Leader wants time off

I’ve been in my garden/greenhouse today a bit, though it has been raining on and off all day, which isn’t exactly ideal. I had managed to get quite wet walking Bilbo so I thought I might as well continue as I started.

Can you tell the photos I took on my iPhone and the ones on my DSLR?

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Top marks for anyone who can name everything in all these pictures! We had home grown turnips with tea – and I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I can actually grow cabbages! I’m sure loads of people will think that’s the saddest thing they’ve ever heard, but after last year’s brassica-related incident with horrid beasties, to see hearts forming on my greyhounds makes me rather excited! My potatoes look to be coming on well and I’ve about got everything set up in the position I want it to be.

Just need some sunshine now! I’m sure this time last year it was hot, sunny and dry.

 

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!

 

What day of the week is it? – a quickie and an update

What is it about Easter week? Fresh off a four-day weekend and I feel like I need another long weekend to get over this one!

And what a full-on weekend it was! I felt like I never stopped. I went to Harrogate to see my best friend from uni on Good Friday, on Saturday I washed Dickie and did loads of gardening, Sunday we went to the Big Breakfast Car Meet at Specialist Cars of Malton where I took loads of photos, and then I baked Mum’s birthday cake in the afternoon, and then Monday was Mum’s birthday so we were pretty much full up with visitors and trips.

I don’t even know what day of the week it is! Is it Wednesday? Thursday?

I was poorly today so had to be off work. I still don’t feel 100%. I have an awful throat and a pounding head. I slept from about half nine yesterday till about half one this afternoon. Oops! Then I took it easy in the afternoon and pottered around in my garden/greenhouse a bit.

I was very happy to see this little buddy peeping up!

Hello little Carmen!
Hello little Carmen!

Now according to gardeners and my Nana, cucumbers are difficult to grow. The back of the packet is enough to put the fear of God into you – must be kept at these temperatures, the first few days are the most important; it’s like getting a puppy! Whatever you do to this cucumber while it’s germinating is something it will remember for the rest of its life. So naturally I was ready to chalk up cucumber growing to my now rather lengthy list of failures (not exclusive to gardening, I might add) – however I am now happy to say so far I have four out of the five seeds all happily germinated and poking their ways upwards into life in my greenhouse!

Hurrah!

Might this be a sign of good things to come? Oohoo, I shall take it as so! If I can nurture a cucumber into life, who knows what I can achieve? Making myself well enough for work tomorrow would be a start!

I will have more updates later on, I promise! On…whatever day of the week it will be!

Katy

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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

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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

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