Blog Archives

Veg update: carrots, spinach, lettuce, beans and tomatoes

Time for a look at how the veg are getting along, and with the weather having been fair for most of this month, they’re doing quite nicely.

First, the mixed pot of carrots and spring onions:

carrot-comparison-9-23-june

I finally got around to thinning out the carrots a couple of days ago, but only on completion of my carrot fly barrier, which I fashioned from 8 build-a-balls, 12 pieces of bamboo cane cut to length and a fine gauge plastic mesh cover sewn together with nylon thread:

carrot-cover

Not exactly a thing of beauty but it should stop carrot flies from getting in there to lay their eggs and ruin the crop, which is something you risk any time you touch or handle carrot foliage because carrot flies can smell them from literally a mile away! At around £18 for the materials it’s quite an expense to go to for a handful of carrots (!), but it will of course be reusable from year to year so will hopefully be worth it in the end.

Next to them is the spinach:

spinach-comparison-9-23-june

I’ve had some aphids on them already, which I removed by hand, but no other problems. I’m not quite sure why they are all such different sizes but I guess the smaller ones will catch up. I’ve thinned down to just the four plants now, so I hope none of them fail!

A couple of feet from the carrots and spinach is my pot of lettuce:

lettuce-comparison-9-23-june

Looking pretty good. I’ve kept the cat deterrent wire over them because it isn’t really in the way yet – I’ll probably remove it when the row I’ve sown in the space on the left start to come through. I’ve had to remove the odd aphid but I’ve had no more attacks from slugs and snails, so maybe the copper tape does work most of the time?

Next there are my french beans (Castandel):

french-beans-comparison-9-23-june

They look good from a distance but close up there are one or two problems becoming apparent, chiefly little holes in the leaves which appear to have been made by some tiny caterpillars (since removed, obviously!). There are also a few aphids kicking around so I’m keeping a very watchful eye. Thankfully no slugs or snails have gotten past the copper tape, and I’ve decided to leave the wire cat deterrent permanently in place as it may serve as a handy support as the beans grow.

Last but not least here are the tomatoes:

tomatoes-comparison-9-23june

 

They are now reaching the height of the third arris rail and have about four or five stalks of flowers each with set fruit on the lowest trusses, so doing okay I reckon. Both varieties that I’m growing (Sungold and Matina) are cordon types, so I’m diligently removing sideshoots as and when I spot them. Other than that they give me little to do beyond slopping some water into the outer troughs of the growpots every second day or so and some feed (Tomorite) into the inner pots once a week.

Mind you, they never are much trouble pest-wise – it’s disease that’s always the problem, namely blight. Growing out of doors I pretty much know that it will strike at some point, and I just have to hope that it will be late enough in the season to have picked most of my tomatoes, or at least to have had a decent crop. Fingers crossed for a hot, dry summer…

Advertisements

Tomatoes and container-grown veg – early June update

First, a side-by-side comparison photo of my 3 tomatoes in a growbag:

tomatoes-june-update

 

In spite of the fact that we had a cold and rainy end to May, they’ve grown away nicely and are starting to flower well. I’m following the growpot watering instructions to the letter, though I have to say that on hot days I’m sorely tempted to reach for the watering can whether I’m supposed to be watering them or not! Force of habit, I suppose.

Moving on to my container veg, we have germination!

First, the carrots and spring onions:

carrots-9th-june

…need a bit of thinning, I think! I will have to be careful not to attract the attentions of any passing carrot flies, however.

Then we have the perpetual spinach:

spinach-9th-june

I’m aiming to have just 4 plants in this pot – one in each corner – so I’m thinning them progressively as I decide which the strongest seedlings are.

Next, the cut-and-come-again lettuce:

lettuce-9th-june

Just the two rows for the moment – I’ll be sowing again in a couple of weeks for a succession. The wire fencing circle is to deter cats from using it as a litter tray, by the way – one of the many little delights of suburban gardening!

And finally, the dwarf french beans:

french-beans-9th-june

Same deal with the wire fencing – it will be removed when the plants have filled enough space to deter the cats without assistance.

I’m trying the variety “Castandel” again since I had reasonable success with it last year. This time I didn’t bother trying to get a head start by sowing indoors in pots as I found germination was very poor doing it that way last year; I just sowed direct into the pot outdoors in late May and they’ve come through pretty well. I’ve certainly got enough!

Mind you, if the slugs and snails have their way, I won’t have many for long, so I’m trying out copper tape on all my veg pots to see if it actually will protect them:

tape-and-grid-protection

I’ve applied a double row so that the big slugs can’t arch over the tape without touching it, and made sure that nothing is overhanging or touching the tops of the pots to make a bridge for them to bypass the tape, so I hope I’ve given the product the best chance of working. I’ve read mixed reviews about it so I have to say that I’m somewhat sceptical, but if it does work I’ll be very happy not to have to use poison pellets around something I’m intending to eat. (If I used nothing at all, with the vast army of slugs and snails in my garden, I wouldn’t have a leaf or stalk to my name by the end of June, I’m afraid!)

So we shall see…fingers crossed!

Now I just have to work out how I’m going to stop everything getting sucked dry by aphids…

 

Daily ramblings

Another day, another ramble.

Took some early(ish) photos this morning of my large flowered hemerocallis, Egyptian Ibis (top), and Georgette Belden:

Image

Ibis on its own:

Image

…and a view from the back gate:

Image

Some very pretty flowers, though I’m a little disappointed scent-wise.

I know that when my Madame Alfred Carriere rose and my pot of lilies come into flower there will be perfume to spare, but in the meantime the only thing in the whole garden that has noticeable scent is the phlox. It just seems to have happened that most of what I grow is there because it looks good…and stays alive(!)

Mindful of the fragrance shortfall, I grew a couple of pots of ten week stocks, but they don’t seem to smell of much other than a faint spiciness of an evening. I also ordered some pinks in early June that are now planted out in the border, but they have no flowers, ergo no scent, quite yet. I should give it some thought for next year: nicotiana might be a good idea since that has yielded excellent, almost overpowering scent for me in the past.

Yesterday morning I potted on my diascia cuttings into 9cm pots of a 60:40 mix of JI#2 and sand. I don’t know how this medium will perform – been trying all sorts of different combinations this year – but I guess I’ll soon see! I’ll keep them in the coldframe until the middle of next week (this is Saturday) to let them get over the root disturbance, then move them out into progressively sunnier positions. They have nice little root systems and they look good, but I’ll probably have to pinch them out in a while to get them branching.

On the veg front, I stopped my Sungold tomatoes the other day. They’d reached the top of their 6 foot canes, so I reckoned it was time. Gardener’s Delight still has about a foot or so to go to catch up, so I won’t be stopping that for a while yet. My runner beans (Firestorm) are looking leafy and healthy and there are a few flowers dotted around, but they’re being well and truly beaten by my French beans (Castandel) which have not only flowers but baby beans!

I’m glad the Castandel are doing well now because they had an inauspicious start. I tried germinating them indoors during May (the cold, late spring meant I didn’t attempt to start them outside at that point) and had a terrible success rate in getting them to come up. I eventually managed to raise three seedlings, so in June I hardened them off and planted them in a 14″ pot of multipurpose compost. They didn’t look all that promising, however, so I decided to shove a few beans in with them, one alongside each plant, to see what would happen.

What happened was that they ALL germinated, and quite quickly too, so I shall know not to bother to try and cosset them indoors next year – I’ll just bung ’em straight outdoors! Me being me, I couldn’t bring myself to dump any of them, so I now have a very small pot with a LOT of beans in it – 6 to be precise! It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this rather intensive cultivation: I’ve been feeding once a week with Miracle Gro since they were planted out, and now I’m feeding once a week with Tomorite, so that should help things along.

That’s about it for today. It was a LOT cooler than lately, so I haven’t had to dash out and do a rescue-watering, which made a change! Tomorrow we’ll be out, so I’ll have to make sure I drown everything thoroughly first thing: this proper summer weather has its price!