A look back at 2019

This time last year, we made a plan for the growing season ahead. So we thought it would be a good time to look back at that plan and see how we got on!

Potatoes

We’d set ourselves the goal of three sowings of potatoes for 2019, to harvest in May, July and December. Well we managed 2/3, so not horrendous. No new potatoes for Christmas though unfortunately. The other two sowings didn’t do too badly though.

The main crop sowing that we did in April and harvested in July was definitely the most successful, but I guess that was to be expected, as they were grown at the time potatoes should be! The only thing was that the pots we planted them in were too tall and narrow, which hindered tuber production (and harvest!!) It was also hard as the weather got warmer to get enough water into the pots. Even twice a day wasn’t enough at one point, as they needed so much water to swell the potato tubers.

The early sowing in February and harvested in May weren’t bad though; they just took longer as they were started off in older weather. The cold greenhouse to protect them from the frost was definitely a winner though as it meant we could eat homegrown new potatoes in May!

Fingers crossed for some Christmas dinner new potatoes for 2020!

Chard

So we were drawn to this as it was so colourful. And we can confirm that it didn’t disappoint! It was also “sow simple” to grow. The seeds were sowed in cell trays, plants planted straight out in the garden from there, and that’s where they stayed to maturity.

If anything, the chard was moe prolific than we expected and we couldn’t keep up with it. One to note for another time!

Sweetcorn

We managed to grow this one too, although the harvest was perhaps not as successful as the chard. We think this is because we had a dry spell during the period that the corns were forming, so they didn’t bulk up as much as they could’ve done and some hadnt fully formed when we harvested them. They pollinated well though, so the square formation we planted them out in must’ve helped us out there!

Kohl rabi

These are one we tried for the first (and perhaps last!) time. They were relatively simple to grow, but we weren’t massive fans of the taste. We may have let them go over the top though, as they went from zero to massive in what felt like a matter of days! We’ve heard that they are nice grated raw and eaten in a salad, so perhaps well try that if we grow them again.

Romanesco cauliflowers

These on the other hand were delicious, definitely one to grow again in 2020 if we get round to it! Both the Romanesco cauliflowers and purple cauliflowers were just gorgeous to look at too!

6028648c-fba4-465a-8b3e-2a82d13090b3img_4493

They grew exactly the same as their white counterparts, but didn’t need shielding from the light to preserve their colour! The Romanesco came out top in the taste test vs the purple ones, but we think that may have had something to do with how they looked when cooked. The purple cauliflowers went that odd blue-grey colour that red cabbage gets when boiled. The best use we found for the purple cauliflower was cauliflower rice and stir fry, as it kept most of its coloured unlike when it was steamed. The Romanescos on the other hand kept their fantastic colour perfectly even when cooked!

Dwarf beans

So we forgot all about these…woops!

Peppers

And these we grew, but with varying results to what we expected. It turns out that both the Padron and Machu Picchu varieties we were drawn to typically grow much hotter than advertised. A single Machu Picchu turned some otherwise delicious homemade tomato soup into a soup that needed to be diluted three times with water and milk and was still too hot to eat in anything other than tiny doses!

And the Padrons were the same. Eating these could only be described as tapas roulette! We have one harvest that was completely mild, and several other harvests which made for a rather unpleasant tapas experience!

 

Having read up on Padrons, it turns out that is totally normal. Apparently the Padrons they grow for the supermarkets are picked by skilled workers who learn a hot padron from a mild one, hence why almost all of the Padrons you buy in a punnet in the supermarket are mild!

But we live and learn! The Gogorez and Snack Bite sweet peppers we grew both turned out extremely well. Our learning is to try and sow them a bit earlier in 2020, as they are notoriously slow to grow, and otherwise you don’t get to harvest anything until most other crops have finished!

img_5386

Garlic

Again, not the most successful of our 2019 growing attempts unfortunately. We think this is because we planted it a bit late (even for spring grown garlic) and tried to grow it in a pot with compost that was too rich. Alliums (the onion and garlic family) are known for liking quite poor soils. So place your bets on what we’re trying in 2020!

And the firm favourites (radishes, carrots, lettuce, spring onions, cucumbers, courgettes and strawberries!)

Overall, these all grew well. We enjoyed numerous harvests of carrots, lettuce, cucumbers and courgettes. The radishes and spring onions are harder, as they peak much faster and so need to be eaten relatively promptly once ready for harvest. The key to success with these therefore has to be to sow little but often, to give yourself a succession of both crops through the summer months.

We’re hoping for better things from the strawberries this year. Don’t get us wrong, we got some strawberries, but not as many as we would’ve liked. This was for two reasons:

1. They were newly established plants and so were going to need a season to get properly established; and

2. The weed suppressant that was suppose to be a godsend was a total hindrance. It may suppress weeds well, but it is also pretty impermeable, so getting water to the plants was much harder than it needed to be, resulting in the plants having to survive on less water than they (and us!) would’ve liked!!

And that’s a wrap for 2019. Not bad if we do say so ourselves… And some learnings for future years made along the way, which is great!

We’re looking forward to sharing our gardening experiences with you again in 2020! Watch out for this year’s plan over the coming weeks!

This year’s trio of peppers

We’ve tried growing three types of peppers this year: Padrons, Macchu Picchu and Snackbite. As an experiment, we have been growing some of each at our respective houses.

A month or so back, the peppers needed potting up from their 3″ pots. We potted them up at this point into 4″ pots in multipurpose compost. Although it doesn’t sound like much of a step up in terms of pot size, whenever potting up you don’t want to re-pot at a pot size that’s wildly different to the previous pot as otherwise sometimes the plant can feel a bit lost. Instead, you want to try and make sure the plant is properly established before potting it up into a larger pot.

Up until this point, our peppers had been growing in a cold greenhouse. Chris’ on the other hand had been growing in the conservatory, and were looking much better, until…

GUBX8198

Although the conservatory was a great growing environment and had kept the plants warm and in the sun for most of the day, we made the mistake of not hardening them off before leaving them to grow on to maturity outside. Therefore, they got wind burn which knocked them back A LOT, and after a few weeks it was clear that they weren’t coming back from this. Again, you learn from your mistakes!

The other week, the peppers were potted up again, this time into their final pots. Again, these were just potted up into multipurpose compost.

Chris did the same with the Padron peppers that he is growing at his house. And each pepper has now got a cane in its pot that the pepper plant is tied to for support.

 

We learnt last year that peppers are quite a slow growing crop compared to some others. But, we have peppers on their way! Chris’ Padrons are just starting to flower, and the Padrons and Snack bite peppers at home now have peppers on them. The Macchu Picchu aren’t fruiting yet, but have flowers so we’re still hopeful!

Somewhere over the…Rainbow Chard

We sowed our Fantasia and Intense rainbow chard on 24 March. One is orange, and one is red, so we’re hoping to grow a nice colourful crop with these!

We sowed one seed per cell in Seed and Modular compost, pushing each seed gently into the compost. We then covered these with vermiculite, a sheet of glass and some newspaper until they germinated.

After a couple of weeks, they had mostly germinated and were large enough to transplant. We potted them up into 3″ pots in multipurpose compost.

And now, another couple of weeks on – they look like this!

TULB0551

These will be ready to plant out soon. So we’ll keep you updated on progress!

Potting on a peck of Machu Picchu peppers

The Machu Picchu peppers had already gotten too big for their initial pots, so a week or so ago we moved them on!

DKBW6077 DXYY5705

Carefully holding only the leaf, we gently lifted them out of their trays – keeping all of the roots in tact.

Using a dibber we made enough of a hole in the new pots and gently pushed them into position, pressing them down a little. Then it’s just a case of covering the compost up around them up again so that only the leaves were showing.

They immediately looked a lot happier!

HWWE7459

However, the above photo was taken a couple of weeks ago, and they’re doing really well now. Here’s a photo of how two of the plants look about 10 days later: –

HWTB9121

Although we know from last year that any pepper plants are going to take a long time until they’re ready to harvest, so there’s a good few months to go yet!

Strawberry progress

Having checked on the strawberry runners we potted up a couple of weeks ago, each of these have now rooted into their pot. Therefore, it was time to cut them loose from the parent plant so they can form their own plant.

EAVR2680

These will just be kept watered now until they have formed their own strong plant. They will then die back over the winter and grow back next Spring to be planted out for next year’s strawberries.

Some more potting on of peppers…

Today we potted on Emily’s Gogorez peppers – they definitely needed some more room!

SQEL1971

They’re also currently doing a little better than mine at the moment!

We filled the pots up about half way with soil, and then topped with compost:

PSBU7674

Next, we made some room in the centre of each pot large enough to fit the peppers:

 

After that, it’s a simple case of pushing the compost around the stem of the pepper and making sure it’s nicely secure in it’s new location…

WDEH9710

We needed some bamboo canes to support the plants as they continue to grow upwards over the next couple of months, and of course as they start to grow the peppers themselves.

 

 

As above – we tied the stems of the peppers to the canes with some string, just to keep them upright, and to help take away some of the strain.

And voilà –

OVHH9821

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.

img_6937.jpg

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!

IMG_7008

I’ll keep you updated on progress!

Go Go Gogorez – Potting on the Peppers

 

**From 20th April 2018**

…Better late than never with this post!

Despite the overly enthusiastic title of this post, peppers really aren’t the quickest growers. These were sown back in February, and some two months later they are ready to be potted on.

IMG-20180420-WA0034

Step 1. As you can see above, the 6 peppers were big enough to move on to larger pots (or, at least 5 and 1/2 of them had come on well to date!). I raided the garden for whatever pots I could find.

Step 2. The new pots were filled with compost, roughly 3/4 of the way to the top. I only used a multipurpose compost and 3 weeks on nothing has died – so no problems there!

Step 3. Make a hole in the middle of the pot big enough to fit the incoming pepper.

Step 4. (as above) Turn the pepper upside down, and, gently supporting the stem in between two fingers, pinch the pot with enough force that allows the plant to fall through – you may need to alternate between the sides.

Step 5. Slot the pepper into the hole you’ve just made in the new, bigger pot – as below…

IMG-20180420-WA0048

Step 6. Fill the pot up with some more compost, enough to ensure that the stem of the pepper is not too exposed, as this won’t be helpful to its growth once it starts to be left outdoors as it could be blown over in the wind. Instead, we want a strong, sturdy plant to give it the best chance. Don’t worry if this means some of the lower leaves are submerged.

Step 7. After repeating the above steps for all of your pots, they’ll need a good watering. The pots should be moist but not completely saturated:

IMG-20180420-WA0039

The process for potting on is very similar for a lot of plants and vegetables, but I don’t think it hurts to demonstrate that fact!

The peppers can be left outdoors during the day for the next few weeks (as long as the weather is set fair), but to begin with they are best brought indoors overnight. They’ll need to be watered regularly to keep the compost moist.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: