Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Mid May update

The radish experiment looks like being both a flop and a success.  I grew some Chinese radish (very spicy indeed) in a 12" pot but they don't like being grown in a group, preferring to be sown in a row so that light gets to the bottom part of the plant.  We picked quite a few roots but to be quite honest there's always a spot somewhere to sow a row and that's what we'll do in future.   It's also easier to thin them that way. I'm not too sure if the hairy roots on the radish is normal but to eat with salad would be a fuss to prep.  Apparently they are great in soups though.  It's been an interesting exercise and a great way to grow a crop on a balcony or if you're short of space.
The 12" pot of radish


A complete lack of patience got the better of me and I emptied a growing sack of Swift and Lady Christl potatoes - it was probably 10 days too early for a larger crop but I was delighted I hadn't spent the past few months growing potato tops and no spuds - there was enough in each bag to feed a good sized family a couple of meals.  The taste? - delicious!
I'll wait now and harvest them when either the plant tops fall over and wilt or the flowers fade.  I did notice the bags were quite dry and so will increase the watering to swell the tubers before harvesting.

Autumn planted broad beans
Harvest number two this week were peas and broad beans.  The autumn sown broad beans are well ahead of the rest and to be fair need a couple of weeks yet.  The spring sown beans will be at least a month or more until ready.

Peas ready for picking in batches as needed for the table

The outdoor tomatoes are growing strongly and starting to fruit.

The greenhouse tomatoes are surging ahead and we've high hopes of some good crops.  I'm feeding a high potash feed (Vitax 102 mainly) but the need for watering has been little as the days have been cool all week.  The greenhouse plants are a good 12" taller than the ones outside and probably 20% stronger.

I took all the spare potted tomato plants out of the greenhouse this week and planted up a couple in the raised border backing the garage wall.  This is Big Boy, the large beefburger variety.  I could take off all fruits to one per stem but will prefer to get more tomatoes even if they are smaller.  They'll probably be a little sweeter that way.

Tomato Big Boy growing outside against the sunny.wall    

Inside the greenhouse I've planted up the gherkins in grow bags, and also a small bush tomato and a chilli plant.

Amazingly the first early strawberries are ripening and the home made strawberry planter seems to be a great success.  The side plants are all strong and growing well.
The first strawberry, promised to Granddaughter No.1
Celery - I'ver search high and low for some decent clay pipes but can't find them locally so I've bought a few plastic ones (B&Q only had 5 so I've used plastic dry lining to create a pipe around the other three)

I'm feeding a high nitrogen feed weekly and giving a small soak of Calcium Nitrate as recommended to stop heart rot.  There's plenty of growth and it is gong to be interesting to compare this with the seed sown self blanching celery next to it. Celery is supposed to be one of the most difficult crops to grow well so it's a challenge I'm looking forward to having a go at. (I've squeezed in a row of radish)

The gladiolus are beginning to sprout and are well protected with slug pellets and bug spray - we've dedictated two whole beds to these as we love these as a cut flower.  Each corm is set on a small bed of gravel and Root Gro and then covered with special bulb fibre for optimal growing conditions and over wintering as I'm not intent on lifting them each year.  I'd need to if we were exhibiting though and they will produce double stems in future years.

Medwyn's prize onion plants are doing well considering I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  The tops are floppy but the plants are slowly putting on new healthy leaf and the onions look strong so I'll keep on doing what I'm doing - watering and feeding.
They are way ahead, bigger and stronger than the other onion plants I got off him earlier.

Autumn planted onions
Autumn planted onions ready to harvest in a month or so - well ahead of normal
We knocked a few onion plants while putting in the last beds and they showed their disgust by running to seed - it only affected 4 or 5 plants so we were lucky but it shows they don't like being disturbed once planted and growing.

A couple of onion 'Troy' went to seed in the garlic bed so I'll look carefully to see if this is an issue with this variety compared to the others.  We're growing about 6 varieties this first year to see what does best.

Early turnips - Milan white
The early turnips have grown really quickly and are ready to harvest - I'll probably not grow them again as the leaves take up a lot of space and shadow out nearby plants - interesting to grow though and really easy.  They are much better suited to an allotment or a garden where space is more readily available as you'd ideally only get two rows in a 900mm wide bed.

I planted out the greenhouse sown corn this week but need to look up what they'll need from now - the bed is in full afternoon sun so if I water and feed well we should get a decent crop from these 20 or so plants.

Beetroot Boltardy
I've picked the first dozen or so beetroot this week but like a twit topped and tailed them before boiling instead of doing this afterwards.  We lost a little colour into the water  but I've learned a lesson.  We'll pickle them today and put into storage jars and look forward to doing the next batch.  I absolutely love beetroot so this is a crop I'll keep sowing during the season.

We must have exceptional weather as just about everything is flourishing - I still think I've planted the brassicas too close and will thin them out.  Next year I will more than likely limit my brassica growing to red and white cabbage and brussell spouts with the odd cabbage Excel which is very easy to grow and hearts up wonderfully.

It's really odd to see how much everything has grown but very, very satisfying.

I'll prepare the bed which had winter cabbage in it later this week and plant out the leeks which aren't doing too badly in the root trainers.  This is a bed that had only the imported soil so I'll incorporate some compost and rotted manure to lighten the texture up.  Onwards and upwards as they say.

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