Sunday, April 26, 2009

String Theory

Had enough time (and motivation) today to put some string up for the mange tout to climb on. Not before time, they are stretching up. Not the prettiest of constructions but I hope that it'll get covered up soon.

I also put some cucumbers, patty pan squash and zucchini in pots to plant out in a few weeks. While I was at it I also sowed some pole beans directly - if they don't get going I'll have plenty of time to sow more - and I left some space for more in a couple of weeks.

Other than that there are now definite signs of growth in the potatoes, raspberries and white beetroot. The greengages appear to have set fruit and barring any infestation or weird weather it looks like there will be quite a few in summer. The herb garden is doing fine - although the lemon balm a bit too well. Anyone got any ideas what to do with it other than make tea?

Had no rain and sunny weather for quite some time and I should have watered the vegetables earlier. I think the forecast for tomorrow is showers but I'll give it a good soaking later on nonetheless.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


The tomato seedlings are in. I would say that the germination rate was somewhere below 50%, with Ildi and Tigerella particularly failing. So that's the lot I have to live with, which, considering that I don't have enough space for all of them anyway, is possibly a Good Thing. I was very pleased with the serrano pepper (free seeds from Mexican restaurant Wahaca, originally mistaken for matches). I also got a geranium cutting from my upstairs neighbour.

The seedlings outside the house are doing fine too. The radishes have all come up (I sowed them too thickly in hindsight) and the lettuces are peeping out too.

The white beetroot are just starting to emerge, can't wait to see how they get on (ok, so the picture looks like it's just dirt but honestly they are there).

The mange tout have all come up, no slug damage yet. Excellent. Still waiting for evidence of the Welsh onion though.

The raspberry show strong growth, both from the canes and shoots coming up from the roots. I cleaned out my fireplace and scattered the ash around. Not sure how much good it'll do but can't do any harm.

Need to remember to sow cucumber indoors this weekend. I should really check my plant list more often as I just noticed that I also wanted to start patty pan squash and the zucchini off in pots. It's still quite slow in the garden but with the English weather it's good to give tender things a headstart.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

A wet but reasonable mild Easter weekend. The rain has done wonders for seeds (and weeds). The radishes have emerged but none of the other things I sowed have shown themselves (to be expected, really).

The miniature pear tree at my deck has opened up its blossoms. Hopefully I get some fruit this year.

The tomato seeds are showing mixed results: Ildi and Tigerella are very slow to germinate but I may still get one or two plants out of them. Orangeberry, Costoluto and Red Pear are doing ok, even San Marzano finally cooperated. Not sure if it is the toilet roll method or just the seeds. My money is on the seeds.

I have been reading Digging for Victory: Wartime Gardening with Mr.Middleton which is very interesting. It features lots of Derris powder (I don't think you can even buy that anymore). It really surprised me how much he talks about buying seed instead of seed-saving (I know my great-aunt was a very committed seed saver for everything, including tomatoes). It also reminds me how much more space gardeners seemed to have had - a recommendation for a small garden is to grow an apple, a pear and a plum tree along with 30 ft rows of potatoes, beans etc. Very interesting storage methods: the "clamp" which is basically a straw-thatched earthen mound to keep potatoes, carrots, etc. I think that is part of the problem with urban gardens - not a lot of space to either grow or store. It has reminded me though that I should really look into pruning my greengage tree - no idea how but it may improve the way it is growing and also the amount of fruit it sets. I like reading about gardening, I learn something new every time.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

first sowing activity in the garden

Last weekend was the day of streetcar first use and the Big Compost Getting: 8x70 litre bags, which gave a good covering for the planting area. And then I didn't do anything for a week, except put the raspberries in.

The tomatoes seeds are a bit slow in coming up and I just re-sowed Ildi, Tigerella and San Marzano today. The other varieties were ok, just those are a bit hesitant. The aubergine didn't want to come out either. That's why I usually don't grow these things from seed, I find it a disappointing experience, almost crushing. The toilet roll method may not be the best way to go.

Today was nice, sunny and warm which encouraged hanging out in the garden for a while. So I finally planted the potatoes and the Mange Tout which probably could have been happily outside for a couple of weeks already. I also sowed some rows of Welsh onion, white beetroot, radish and endive. In this weather it is tempting to start early but I bet we have a few more cold days ahead.