PLANT BRASSICAS, SOW CUCURBITS
POT'S GROWING ON? 19/05/23
How do. This week I thought it would be useful to give you a brief update of where I’m at in terms of sowing and planting out vegetables this season. Though I have to admit, after an impromptu work trip last week, this week I’ve been taken out by the lurgy, so where I’m at is behind. Still, the first batch of cut and come again lettuce is keeping me positive, they’re ready to start picking.
My first rows of radishes, beetroot and kohlrabi sown at the start of May are growing nicely now. I will sow further batches at the start of June and July. As a reminder I grow organically, peat free and with minimal digging, you can see the compost mulch above.
Brassicas are growing rapidly now. I grow them in trays, preferring the wooden ones because they seem to retain moisture. Writing this has reminded me how much plastic is involved in gardening. I haven’t bought plastic pots for propagation for five years or more now, I reuse the ones I have from planting (I haven’t had to get rid of any), and I’ve used these brilliant wooden trays for seed sowing since moving. Even so, it’s a lot. It doesn’t feel as if plastic use in gardening has really gone down, does is? The grey, or taupe to use their posh name, are recyclable but recycled and recyclable products still use energy, carbon and additional materials. There must be a better way. Anyway, I digress… Brassicas, I have begun preparing their bed this week and plan to plant them out before the end of the month.
Turnip ‘Snowball’ is being nibbled by flea beetle outside but this won’t affect the roots. It does seem to prevent me growing mustards outdoors in spring.
This week I sowed our winter squash, summer squash, pumpkin, courgette and cucumbers in one fell swoop of the seed packet. I sow them about 3cm deep into 1 litre pots of peat free compost, I use Sylvagrow organic which is currently my favourite compost. I was given this year’s bags for free with no obligation to say anything good about it - I was given them at the point I was about to buy them anyway! I’ve sown them in our polytunnel because the weather now has turned warm enough, it’s unlikely we’ll have such a blast of cold to kill them. Cucurbits grow so quickly that I’ll likely be planting them outside in 2-3 weeks.
Due to the cold spring, our tomato and aubergine seedlings are looking very scraggly. I’ve started giving them liquid seaweed fertiliser to speed them along because I’ll be planting them in the ground of the polytunnel in the next week or so. Those going outside will be planted out in June.
The first batch of spring broad beans, mangetout and peas are germinating nicely out on the allotment.
Rather than rows I’ll be growing peas and mangetout up wigwams. I think it will be slightly easier to pick them and it will be easier to water them because where I stood in the middle of the circle while sowing, I’ve created a little dip to help retain the water. This all feels very pagan, I love it.
We’re into the second year of our new asparagus bed, so no asparagus for us yet. Despite all of the compost love I’ve been giving them, they seem slow to get going, I might need to crown lift or prune back a hawthorn next to this bed to let more light in. I’ve added an extra row this year, giving us four rows of asparagus with between 5 - 7 plants per row. It’s important to support with string to stop them breaking in strong winds.
Our row of first early ‘Swift’ potatoes look luscious and the other two rows of main crop potatoes beyond are starting to appear. I held off planting longer than last year because it was so cold and that seems to have paid off with much more vigorous growth in the warmth of mid to late spring. Last year, I planted earlier and the growth was hit by late frosts, they never really recovered.
This week I planted out our tiny onion and shallot seedlings, which I sowed into wooden trays back in January. Tiddly tiny still but they will grow extraordinarily quickly now they’re in the ground. I find they come out of trays easily with roots in tact just by loosening the compost a little.
The globe artichokes I grew from seed last year died in the hard winter, this is a replacement batch from the same packet. Three times as many! I’ll protect them with straw if we have the same freeze. To their right is a line of padron peppers about to be planted in the polytunnel. Just behind these are some pots of dill and parsley.
Two weeks ago I sowed green and purple basil in our polytunnel, they’re all germinating. I’ll plant them into the ground in the polytunnel when they have two or more sets of true leaves.
This is embarrassing but do you remember the sunflower seeds I sowed back in April? I mentioned them in this newsletter. Well, they all germinated and then one day were gone, entirely eaten by cheeky little molluscs. Back to Chiltern Seeds I went and bought the lot all over again, they are now growing on in pots of peat free compost to plant out when they are bigger, stronger, hairier, more slug resistant plants.
Lastly, I’m getting set to sow summer loving beans in early June, which are the French beans and runner beans. Alongside these I’ll sow one more successional batch of mangetout. If it’s warm enough I will plant them in the ground.
I’ll leave you with a photo of one of the new hens looking absolutely magnificent. Wishing you a clucky week.
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Love the hen! And you have the Freckles variety growing among your lettuces - we have those also :-)
Thanks for this update. It’s reassuring to know that even experts lose a whole lot of seedlings to slugs! I’ve been relying on my mum’s excess sowing of tomatoes and cucumber - we picked the first cucumber this weekend (from a plant that had been indoors but I brought outside to a sheltered wall a week ago). Ive put some salad outside in a cold frame, and now plotting how to net my strawberries to try and prevent the squirrels eating the whole crop - as they did last year.