Sunday, March 27, 2011

First seedlings

All tomatoes and the patty pan squashes germinated nicely, although the seeds were a couple of years old at least. They are growing way too fast in the propagator so today I potted them on and they will be living in my mini-greenhouse from now on. It's going to be warm enough in there and much better light than on my windowsill. One of the cucumber seeds which is still in the propagator is already peeking through but potting them up will have to wait until next weekend.

I'm almost tempted to start sowing the carrots, rocket, beetroot, etc directly outside but previous years have taught me that I am a bit too overenthusiastic and they like it a touch warmer than I think it is. Even though we've had smashing spring weather recently, it still drops quite low overnight. (Just spotted a soil/compost thermometer on sale at Amazon for £2.85... may have to invest in that). The pelargoniums which overwintered inside have now moved outside for the summer (still have to watch for frost but they should be ok).

In preparation for the tomatoes this summer, I also investigated better canes. The tall bamboo canes are ok as a tripod for beans and cucumbers but they don't really work that well for holding up tomatoes. I saw some spirally metal ones in Germany some years ago but never spotted them here, until two weeks ago through Amazon. I ordered different sizes, two 1.8m ones, and four 1.2m. The beauty is that you can wind the tomatoes around as they grow and you shouldn't need any twine (in theory). Also, they are galvanised steel so should be able to prop up even a plant fully-laden with fruit (a major drawback of the bamboo which regularly bent over and snapped). And I think they look pretty, in a modern-industrial way :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Keeping the bay tree at bay

Years and years ago I planted a cute little bay, barely knee-high. Since then it has grown into a colossus. Two years ago I lopped off the top so it was about my height. Recently I looked at it again and I estimated it to be about 2.5 metres! I don't want to get rid of it, just tall enough to supply me with its leaves and not take over valuable growing space. Making the most of the weather today I trimmed it down to probably about 1 metre and cut back some of the side branches. Instantly, there seemed more room, more light...and more clippings than I knew what to do with. The bigger branches now form a sort of barrier against the back wall, rest went onto a heap by the side of the compost. Keeping with the clear-up I also trimmed some ornamental bushes, swept the deck and hunted down rogue seedlings from surrounding sycamores and ivy that is trying to invade my garden from next door. And then I had a nap, followed by coffee and cake :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More sowing

After last week's mega-sowing of tomatoes (Tomatoes 'Red Pear',‘Tigerella’, 'San Marzano', 'Costoluto','Orangeberry' and 'Ildi'), this week is was the turn of cucumbers ('Lemon'). For the tomatoes I used up some Suttons peat pellets whereas for the cucumbers I ordered some coir pellets. Let's see which does better but the peat pellets gave me some pretty good results last year. The handy windowsill propagator that the pellets go into keeps them warm enough and it's also pretty damn impossible to overwater them which usually encourages damping off. So hopefully really soon I should see the first signs of seedlings!