Sunday, 29 May 2011

Last few days of May

I didn't think there'd be much to report until I took the camera out this morning, so used are we now to the crops flourishing and growing apace.

In an earlier post I mentioned my experiments with coir (coconut shavings pressed into blocks).  Having seen a 360gm packet of grass seed and coir costs the best side of £20 I decided to make my own.  Commercial growers (tomatoes etc) use custom made grow bags of coir charged with Nu-Gro liquid fertilizer and so I did the same.  A few blocks costing 80p each fill a wheelbarrow when wetted (they swell up to about 9 litres per block).  The results from repairing patches in the grass were amazing and a fraction of the cost of the garden centre stuff.

We have a strip of grass which is dry, dry, dry and mostly shaded so I have made up a couple of wheelbarrows of the grass seed, coir and Nu-Gro and will post the results in a few weeks.  I am convinced it will work really well.  The seed is a parkland mix (not the cheap economy rye grass stuff but not the expensive blended mix with fescues etc either) it's a mix of rye grasses for parkland areas at about £85 for 25 kilos which will last ages.  This was the minimum quantity of this particular seed -

I had to really shop around for a good price on the coir as some suppliers charge way too much. I got mine from

Gherkins doing well and fruiting
Tomato 'Sweet & Neat' - a tiny plant but full of fruit
Garlic 'Illico' - planted in October 2010 some have started to develop seed heads so I have picked them and am drying them out on the slatted greenhouse shelf

A few onions had also developed seed heads having been disturbed a few weeks back when we put extra beds in.  I'll dry these in the greenhouse and use them first.  Not huge plants but a decent size for cooking and I'm well pleased for my first attempt at growing onions.
The dreaded tomato leaf curl - the heavy rain we had earlier in the month affected one tomato plant only.  It's not supposed to affect fruiting so I'll keep feeding and see what happens.  The flowers all look OK.
A neighbour gave me a good tip - run your finger around the onions to clear away some soil to help them ripen
Cabbage ' Greyhound' living up to it's name - these were tiny plants only a month ago.
One of the main brassica beds - growth is amazing as these were small plants less than six weeks ago.  The cabbage have hearted up and are ready already.
Broccoli coming on really well - these were small garden center purchased plants planted out in April and look like being ready by the end of June.
The 'exhibition' carrots - these are looking sturdy and putting on steady growth - nothing dramatic though
Medwyn's mega onions are starting to swell - the leaves are pretty floppy but as I'm growing these outdoors and exposed to the wind and rain I'm not unhappy.
'Navet de Nancy' Turnip
Here is why turnips are suited more for a large plot.   There are only two row in the 90cm wide bed but the leaves shade out the spring onions and carrots I grew either side.  The growth has been amazing over the last two weeks. 
Navet de Nancy Turnip close to being ready to harvest
We have had the best tasting strawberries off this planter for a couple of weeks now and because we used plant varieties maturing at different times should get a good harvest for the whole summer.  I kidded myself I wouldn't need to net them from the birds as this week they've had a little feast off a couple of juicy big ones.
I grew parsnip from seed in this bed over-planted with a row of radish long since harvested (see earlier post) and they're doing well.  Germination was erratic so I reseeded the gaps and these germinated much better as the soil was that little bit warmer.  I've yet to thin this second sowing out. Seed from what is turning out to be a favorite seed supplier - Chase Organics at

Peas are cropping well and becoming a part of weekly diet - I'm watering them well to swell the pods but it's hard not to eat as many as you pick for the table while picking.
The gladioli have finally started to shoot

I planted out the gladiolus corms over the recent weeks, a couple of rows each week to get successive flowers over a longer season.  These are for cutting and using indoors so we didn't want them all flowering together (100 glads anyone?) The odd one has refused to show it's head and one looks a little poorly.  I am spraying regularly as thrips are the danger here.Over the coming weeks as the stems develop I'll be spraying and also feeding with Vitax 301 then 111 then 102 as the flower spikes develop.  Higher nitrogen first, then a balanced feed then a higher potassium feed.

Last weekend I was finally able to clear out the last two autumn sown cabbages, add some compost to lighten the original soil we used and add organic fertiliser and plant out the leeks which had been patiently growing away in their root trainers.  As mentioned in previous posts, the autumn planted cabbages went in far too late (October) and most of them pretty much failed to do anything nearing an edible crop.  The January King tried it's best but needed to be out in the bed by August or early September to stand a decent chance.

I hope the family all like leeks as we've planted out over 60 plants.

I harvested a bag of Lady Christl potatoes, again a week or so early as quite a few of the spuds were really small.  The size of crop per bag though is excellent and this is one I'll do again.  The remaining potatoes are all refusing to say come and pick me just yet but a small bucket from each bag last us ages so there is no rush.

Also planted out this week was the corn which will get the full afternoon sun.
Another cabbage Excel planted out in March almost ready for picking - this is an excellent and reliable variety with a solid heart.
That's all for another week.  Cooler weather over recent weeks and forecast for more to come means growth has slowed a little from the manic stuff we saw in April.  Apart from salad crops that's most of the planting done for this year and we can take things a little more easy with weeding, feeding and watering - oh, and EATING!

1 comment:

  1. You can have your salad anytime. Your garden is so full.

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