Taking cucumber cuttings to grow more plants

It’s always a good idea to have successional sowings of the various vegetables you grow to length their harvest period. Therefore, we would always recommend sowing little but often. However, you don’t always have to start again from seed. Instead, you can take cuttings from the existing plant and root these.

Cucumbers are an example of one type of crop which this can be done with. You allow a side shoot to grow to about 6 inches (instead of nipping them off when they’re small as you usually would), and then carefully cut it off with a knife without damaging the existing plant. You should then put the cutting in a container of cold water to encourage root growth.


After a week or so, roots should appear from the stem. Make sure to replace the water in the container every day or so to prevent it becoming stagnant. If this occurs, the cucumber stems (which are still delicate) are likely to rot off.

This plant is one taken from one of our Passandra mini cucumbers a couple of weeks ago which has now been potted up. Once big enough, we’ll plant it out.



Tending to runner beans

This week, the runner beans have got to the top of their canes! And our first runner beans are starting to set after the bees have been hard at work pollinating them.

Once they reach the top of their cane, we usually snip their tops out. This helps the plant to focus its energy on producing runner beans, rather than growing a never ending vine. This can just be done with scissors.

You should still keep an eye out for side shoots to make sure these are kept under control and don’t detract from the production of runner beans!

Sowing brassicas

We helped sow some brassicas today: cauliflowers and calabrese. Like with most things, we sow our brassicas and grow them on in pots before planting out to give them the best chance.

Firstly, we filled 1/4 seed trays with Levingtons Seed and Modular compost and dampened the compost with a fine rose watering can. We then gently firmed down the compost with a piece of wood.


Next, the seeds were placed on the compost, gently pressed into the surface and then covered with vermiculite. Once ready, they were covered with a sheet of glass and a piece of newspaper to obscure the light, and keep the seeds warm as they germinate.


We always make sure to label the varieties we are growing using white plant labels. These labels stay with the plants all the way through until they’re planted out, to ensure the different varieties don’t get mixed up and you can track which ones grow better/worse for you! It also helps you to work out timings for particular varieties so that you can try and time your growing to get a succession of vegetables to eat throughout the season.

The white plant labels also come in handy for moving seeds around in the seed tray. Here, I’m using the plant label to evenly space the seeds out in the seed tray to make it easier when you come to pricking the seedlings out in a week or so.


Keeping up with our runner beans

We took a look at our runner beans today. Each plant is now making its way up the cane, and any that were straying to a neighbouring cane were gently unwound and wound back round their own! As the plants are only about 6 inches apart, the sideshoots that runner beans throw up mean that the beans weren’t going to get a lot of space.


Therefore, we have decided that we will only look to get runner beans off the main stem. For each plant in turn, we cut the side shoots off the main stem off to give the plants more space.

For smaller sideshoots, these can be nipped off between your thumb and first finger.

It was surprising how much extra foliage the runner beans were carrying!


And the plants look much happier afterwards.


We also harvested our first courgette! Although its possible to get courgettes larger than this one, it’s normally best to harvest the first couple of courgettes from any plant a little bit prematurely. This is because the plant is still quite small at this point, and so the courgette takes up a lot of energy to produce. It’s better to remove these once they get to a reasonable size to give the plant a chance to rejuvenate and grow stronger.

Our first harvest of 2018

And so it’s begun – we are harvesting things that we’ve sown! The weather was nice today, so we thought we’d have a barbecue. This meant we could thin out some of the little gem lettuces we were growing in the pot and also harvest some of our radishes. They were both delicious!


Things don’t always go to plan!

We thought it would be a good opportunity to update you on our various container growing adventures.

The onions, beetroot and carrots are all coming along nicely. It’ll be a little bit of time before they’re ready to harvest, but they’re all moving along as expected.

The lettuces are also growing well. We think we put a few too many little gem lettuces in the pot, so we’ll be thinning some of these out shortly and eating them as salad leaves. This should give the others more of a chance to heart up.

The radishes are ready to harvest! These were only sown on 7 May (and were probably ready this time last week if we’d wanted to). Therefore, a great one for growing if you only want to have to wait 3-4 weeks!


The courgettes we have growing in containers are starting to get flowers, so fingers crossed we’ll have some courgettes coming soon. They are also starting to grow up, so they’ll need tying up the stake shortly.


However, not everything always goes to plan. Unfortunately, our seed potato that we planted (after growing so well to begin with) succumbed to some kind of disease and we had to discard it. Equally, the spring onions we sowed at the same time as the other container salad veg never germinated. Therefore, we have recycled the pot.

First, we forked over the top of the compost with a hand fork, to loosen this after the watering it had had since we sowed the spring onion seeds. We then smoothed this over to create a bed for the seeds.

We sowed the radish seeds approximately 1″ apart in the pot and then gently pressed them in to the compost.

Lastly, we covered the seeds with a fine layer of seed and potting compost and then watered the seeds with a fine rose watering can to moisten the compost on top of the seeds.


It’s always fun to try new things

I’ve never grown cucamelons before, but I re-discovered a small packet of seeds in my seed box. They’d been there for a couple of years since my sister thought it would be a good idea to buy me a “grow your own cocktails” kit for my birthday. Needless to say, I tend to prefer to buy my cocktails ready made for me! However, I read up about them a little bit online, and they promise to grow a tiny watermelon shaped fruit which tastes of cucumber with a hint of lime – interesting!

Nevertheless, I thought I would give the seeds a try, as if they weren’t still viable now, they never would be!

The seeds were sown in a very similar way to usual. I filled a 1/4 seed tray with seed and potting compost, moistened it with a fine rose watering can and then firmed down the compost as shown.

The seeds were then placed on the compost, pressed down gently and then covered with vermiculite. The seeds were left in the greenhouse covered with a sheet of glass and some newspaper to exclude the light until they germinated.

Last weekend, they were ready to prick out. We filled 3″ pots with multipurpose compost and watered them well to moisten the compost.


I then pricked six seedlings out. When pricking out seedlings, you should avoid touching the stem where possible as this is the most delicate part. Instead, hold the seedling by one of its first true leaves and gently persuade its root into the hole already dibbered in the pot.

Each seedling should then be gently firmed into the compost so as not to leave any air gaps between its roots and the compost in the new pot it has been transplanted into.


After transplanting, we have kept them in a cold greenhouse to protect them from any strong winds or heavy rain until they have got established. This would also hopefully protect them from any frost, but hopefully we’re past that stage now we’re in June!

As you can see, they are romping away. Only 4 days on from transplanting, they’ve already grown another leaf!


I’ll keep you updated on progress!

Container courgettes

There are an increasing number of great varieties of courgettes these days that are bred specifically to be grown in containers. Some examples are Parador (which is also a lovely yellow variety of courgette), Patio Star and Midnight.

Last weekend, I planted a Patio Star and a Midnight in 30 litre pots. We’ve grown these varieties for a number of years now and they are both fantastic croppers and very tasty to eat – which is key!

With anything we plant in containers, we always put some soil in the bottom to give the pots a bit of weight and keep them anchored if the wind creeps up.


We then filled each container with multipurpose compost before planting one courgette per pot.


We then put a stake in each pot for the courgette to grow up, securing this to the fence so that the plants can’t blow over once they get courgettes growing on them. As you can imagine, the plants get quite heavy once fruiting, so its important to make sure they’re tied up the stake at regular intervals to prevent the plant falling over.  The ones we grew up stakes last year grew taller than me, so let’s hope for some of the same from this year’s plants!


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