The courgettes have been a bit hit and miss really, but I would say more of a hit as we are harvesting them so its all good. Despite hand pollinating as many female flowers as possible, some of the baby courgettes rotted off. On the other hand, perhaps this is natures way of helping the plants cope with their ‘brood’, the female flowers were plentiful after all. To be honest I have stopped hand pollinating now, I am interested to see how the baby courgettes fair without my interference.
As you can see from the photo the courgette in the middle nearly went on to be a marrow, it was overlooked growing away happily and should have been picked a few days prior. Its amazing how fast a courgette develops actually.
I fried some last night in a little butter…….heaven.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on July 14, 2009
We are harvesting young carrots at the moment and very pleased with the results, no forked or odd shaped carrots to be found. Yet! We are growing Autumn King this year and decided to leave the job of thinning the seedlings until the carrots were a decent size. This way we can munch our way through young tender carrot thinnings whilst leaving the rest in the ground to mature until autumn time. No waste!
How are your carrots coming along, which variety are you growing and do you also eat the thinnings rather than throwing them away?
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on July 13, 2009
Our sweetcorn is doing pretty well, the male tassels (flowers) at the top are standing proud and the female silks are starting to show. Now we are coming to the crucial time that could render our first attempt at growing sweetcorn (from seed I might add) either a tasty success or a total failure.
Wind pollination along with planting in a block rather than a row will help to pollinate the silks, but, I shall also aid nature a little and try to hand pollinate as well. Anyone else done this before? Any tips? So far I have the following advice:
Tap the tassel flower when fully open to distribute the pollen to the silks below, or, run your hand up and down the tassel and then do the same to the silks to release the pollen.
As you can see we have at least 3 silks per plant, whether or not all become pollinated is any ones guess. I have a few pollinating ideas up my sleeve (oh dear that sounds a bit odd) so I shall try different methods on different plants and see how we go.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on June 25, 2009
The Tom Thumb butterhead lettuces now have 5 leaves, growing well but desperately in need of thinning and transplanting. Their little root systems are quite well developed so yesterday I set some time aside and got to work. This is how the rows looked before I started:
I transplanted as many of the seedlings as I could into rows in a neighbouring empty bed.
Seeing as there were quite a few left over once the spare bed was planted up, I decided to intercrop some of them with the cauliflowers.
Hopefully this will work well. They all have plenty of space to put on growth and heart up. I’m not worried about a bit of slug damage or the odd loss, most of these lettuces are being grown to feed the hens anyway hence why there are so many. The very scrawny seedlings left over after I had finished thinning , transplanting and intercropping were fed to the hens and devoured in seconds. Nothing is wasted around here!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on May 29, 2009
Here it is, our very first harvest of the year, well, from seed anyway if you don’t count rhubarb which we have coming out of our ears. Not literally but you know what I mean! Yes its those fab little radishes all grown up, willing and waiting to be devoured. I’m sowing them like crazy now to keep up with the family’s demand!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on May 27, 2009
Just a quickie update on the vegetable garden, sowing, seedlings and digging. We are still sowing like the clappers, all the seeds are germinating well so far, still waiting on the courgettes to make an appearance but so far so good.
Tomatoes and chillies have been sown and the tomatoes have already started to sprout. Runner beans will be started off in small pots this weekend, I don’t want to get caught out with a late frost or risk having the seed beans munched in the soil like last year.
The sprouts and cauliflower seedlings are doing very well outside in the mini greenhouse, some of the seedlings have their first set of true leaves. I have started off a second sowing of broad beans, the other plants are outside and doing well, even in the frost. We did lose some of the taller plants, but, I think that was my fault for allowing them to go too stringy before planting them out. We had to start the broad beans indoors because none of the vegetable beds were ready for planting.
The sweet corn seedlings are really doing well on the sunny windowsill, they will be planted out as soon as the risk of frost is over. The onion sets are coming along great as well as the garlic. No major dramas so far.
The vegetable garden is coming along slowly but we are getting there. We are still having a hell of a battle with nettles on the second half of the plot. Our very friendly neighbour asked us why we don’t just spray the blighter’s and be done with it, I politely answered that we want to be as organic as we can, otherwise what is the point? We may as well not bother trying to grow our own if we are going to pump the soil full with nasty stuff. He probably thinks we are barmy of course and cannot see the point in us out there, every spare hour we can grab, digging like crazy people possessed.
Anyhoo, we now have 5 lovely vegetable beds all fed with lovely well-rotted manure and organic compost, ready to nurture our seedlings and sowings. Oh, that reminds me, must get the carrots, beets, peas and parsnips in soon!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on April 3, 2009
I love sowing seeds and waiting for them to germinate, be it vegetable or flowers it doesn’t matter, I find the waiting equally as rewarding. The sign of life within the soil, a little green seedling looking for the light. I’ve had a bash at sowing sweet corn, all the seeds germinated and the young seedlings are looking nice and healthy so far. I cannot wait to plant these out once the danger of frost is over. The height, the flowers, the crop that these seedlings hopefully will bring is very exciting to say the least. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Sweet corn is wind pollinated, planting in blocks rather than rows will increase the chances of successful pollination.
Other sowings this week have been tomatoes, courgettes and chillies, now cooking away in the propagator. Our chillies did reasonably well last year, although they refused to redden until brought inside. Sprouts and cauliflower are doing well in the outside mini greenhouse. Runner beans are next on the list for sowing as well as peas, beets, carrots and parsnips.
So far I have resisted buying in vegetable seedlings whilst browsing around mums local (and very reasonable) nursery. Who knows, it could all go boobies up and I may need to rush back there after all.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on March 28, 2009
Oh yes, the sweet smell of success is finally in the air. After many weeks, days and long hours, blood (quite literally, those bramble thorns are evil) sweat and near to tears we have at last rid the vegetable garden plot of those wretched brambles. And the roots. Yeee ha!
There are now 2 workable and very usable vegetable beds, already planted up with second early potatoes, onion sets, garlic and broad beans. What a difference it makes to be able to see the fruits of our very hard labour come together, to actually be able to get out there and sow, rather than wade through 12 feet of brambles. Fantastic. Another 2 beds will be finished by this weekend, then bed number 5 will be next on the list to get into position. This will still leave a lot of space free so we need to make up our minds if another fruit tree will take position or to go for more beds. Hmmm decisions.
There’s still lots of work do, more agony to place upon our already aching muscles and limbs. We are not even half way through the whole plot that we have allocated for vegetable and soft fruit growing, but, the fact that the brambles roots are all out, thats got to make the whole process a little easier. Nettles are still a problem in next section of the plot, there are lots of them and those roots are just mind blowing. Its like an underground spaghetti frenzy going on. We are finding that digging at least a foot of the top soil is removing the runners, then, digging down a little further reveals the backbone of it all. Its hard going but its getting somewhere now, looking like a vegetable garden, behaving as a vegetable garden, which makes it all worth while really.
To improve the soil and feed it we have been using organic vegetable compost, those greedy bramble roots must have really taken it out of the soil even though its fully workable and seems quite reasonable considering. We have been composting like mad since moving into the property in November, sadly our own homemade compost is not quite ready to use just yet. Its going to be left to rot down, hopefully to be used this autumn. The hens oblige everyday with fresh droppings and we are actually running out of room to compost it all. My parents are now getting lots of free bags of straw and chicken poop till we get our act together and make wooden compost bins from the free pallets that we have been collecting. Anyone fancy some free bags of poo?
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on March 26, 2009
A quick update on how the vegetable garden is progressing and what we are now sowing and growing. We had gravel boards delivered on Sunday with every intention of getting some frames built, but due to terrible weather conditions this was not possible to finish. We did get some more digging and weeding done, as well as digging in tons of organic matter to feed the soil.
The broad beans we potted up are germinating nicely on the window sill and are ready to plant out. Our garlic is going great guns, fingers crossed tightly that the very frosty weather recently has helped the cloves to split, seeing as we potted them up late. We are now sowing Brussels sprouts, sweet corn and cauliflower. Once the beds are completed the potatoes will be planted out as well as 2 varieties of onion sets.
The photo is a runner bean germinating from last year. We will be starting our runners off in pots this year, rather than sowing directly into the ground due to a terrible time with the seed beans being eaten below soil level. This meant we had to do a very late sowing of runners in pots and hope for the best. Due to a warm snap at the end of summer we were lucky to get a couple of harvests, but this year we hope to harvest a lot more.
We’re not lucky enough to have a glass greenhouse so windowsill space is getting tight. We purchased a mini greenhouse, yeah we know they are a bit flimsy but it helps out with sowing space!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on March 9, 2009