Friday, May 28, 2010

Preliminary experiment results

I removed the cloches from the tomatoes today, mainly because they were rapidly outgrown. It seems that with Tigerella (two on left) it made no vast difference, except that the one that was covered looks a bit slimmer and curled up. With the Marmande (two in the middle), the protected one definitely is a bit taller and stronger.

But what a difference the wall-o-water made to the Red Pear (on right)! Twice as big compared to the other one (see comparison below, left uncovered, right covered). Very pleased with this approach, also required less watering and seemed to keep the snails away. Have to get more wall-o-waters...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh well, ventilation problem solved

I noticed recently that there is a big hole on the top of the mini-greenhouse. I was muttering about plastic fatigue and cursing shoddy goods when a squirrel poked its head over the fence, coming face-to-face with me studying the mini-greenhouse. Sure enough, there are more holes in the greenhouse top which look suspiciously like rips caused by a squirrel launching itself into the air. The only consolation is that it is fixable with a bit of strong tape. I also moved my set-up around, so it is not near the fence now. The weather is warm enough that I need to roll up the flap every morning so it doesn't overheat, at least the hole improves the ventilation unintentionally.

The chili plants and the tagetes love the greenhouse. I'll keep the chilis in the pot but the marigolds will eventually settle into the garden. The beans I planted in pots haven't surfaced yet and I just direct-sowed some. Apparently, "Pantheon" doesn't germinate well in poor, dry spoils but I am doing everything I can to make them comfortable.

I planted out the cucumbers "Crystal Lemon" the other day, still protecting them with home-made cloches. Anything to make them big enough quickly to withstand the snail menace. I am trying to grow them up on a wigwam, still need to put the string on the supports but had good results with that approach last year (mind you, different kind of cucumber).

Sowed more rocket, beetroot, carrots and also a fast-growing salad mix. I think my first sowing of rocket is getting eaten by snails. Between squirrels, snails and cats it's quite hard to make things grow in a London vegetable patch (my neighbour Paul regularly finds snails in his window box and has a squirrel visiting his bird feeder - on the third floor). I turned some of my beds into Vlad-the-Impaler-land with little bamboo sticks to keep the cat from digging out my seeds. Seems to be working so far.

With the nice spell of weather everything seems to be shooting up by the minute. Tomatoes are doing fine - in fact I had to leave all of them uncovered (except the wall-o-water one) because they outgrew the cloches, thus probably invalidating my experiment (see previous post). I have been drinking water from a 5L bottle like crazy so now one of them in protected again. The other one will be soon, too. Squash and patty pan are also settling in, and I think I spotted a self-seeded courgette. Is that even possible? Maybe it's just a weed in disguise...

My herbs are doing really well (well, all except the mint for some reason) . Thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, chives and some fennel. (Raspberries in foreground are just starting to flower.) However, I am at a loss what to do with all that lemon balm. I don't really drink herbal tea that may have to come out. Would love to replace it with tarragon and lovage. And possibly more mint for a nice Pimm's.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kalte Sophie

My great-aunt always told me to wait out "Kalte Sophie" for anything tender. So today I planted my tomato starts, patty pan squash and the Turk's Turban squash. Perfect day for planting - not too warm, not too cold and now it is raining a bit after a bout of sunshine which gave me enough time to work out there.

The cucumbers have to wait a bit as they are still a bit too small. I wonder why they are growing so slow compared to the squashes.

I am trying out an "experiment" on the tomatoes. I have two of each kind: Red Pear, Marmande and Tigerella. One of each I am protecting a bit more over the next few weeks and see how they do in comparison. One of the Red Pear plants is getting extra-special treatment, a Wall-o-Water. The others will have to make do with some soda bottles or improvised bigger cloches I can find.

On other news, neighbours who chopped down the tree at the back (yay!) poked their head over the shrubs/rubble. A small discussion ensued about what to do about the crumbling wall that separates their garden from mine, whether to build on top or rebuild it completely. I think the upshot was to ignore it and just stick some fencing up instead. Nice to meet them though and know that they are starting to use the garden. I just wished I hadn't been wearing my pink unicorn baseball cap at the time.