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…

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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!

End of July update

There are a few things that you haven’t heard about for a while, so we thought we’d give you an update on these.

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After a number of weeks where the plants didn’t seem to make much progress at all, they seem to have got established now and have shot up all of a sudden. They are now almost as tall as me and are starting to produce cobs. It will probably still be a few weeks until they’re ready, but hopefully it’ll be worth the wait!

Garlic

The garlic were less of a success. We always knew we might be up against it a bit as we’d planted the cloves in Spring, whereas they are usually planted in the Autumn and then overwintered. However, several growers have had success with Spring planted garlic so we thought we’d try our hand at it too.

We think a combination of late planting, a warm spring and perhaps the compost we had them growing in led to the early dying back of the garlic. As you can see, the cloves we planted have transformed into new garlic bulbs, but they didn’t get a chance to fully form so that each one was made up of a number of cloves of its own. Instead, they are just a single, round “clove”.

Turns out they still taste just like garlic though, so we’ve been enjoying them in lots of dinners!

Lettuce

The various varieties of lettuce seemed to do quite well in their pot and have all been eaten now.

Perhaps they would’ve done slightly better if they’d had a bit more space, but it just goes to show what you can grow even where space is at a premium!

Lettuce are another funny one when it comes to watering. They’re generally fine to begin with, but once they start hearting up, we try to only water around the base and not over the top of their leaves. Otherwise the water can get trapped between the leaves and then when it gets warm can cause the lettuce to rot.

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Strawberries

The strawberries were a bit like the garlic – we came to the party a bit late. We decided that last year’s plants needed a refresh as they’d lost a bit of rigour over the years, but didn’t get round to ordering some new plants until quite late in the day.

Therefore, the plants haven’t had much of a chance to get themselves established, let alone produce a load of strawberries for us! They’ve done their best though, as we’ve had a few strawberries from them.

We have also had second thoughts about the weed suppressant. We thought it would be a great way to stop weeds and give the strawberries something to ripen on instead of straw which we’ve used in previous years. However, we’ve decided it also stops water getting to the plants and therefore has probably hindered their growth. Straw it is next year!

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When it got too hot for our Romanesco cauliflowers

We asked a gardener friend of ours that has experience of growing Romanesco cauliflowers to recommend a variety for us to try when we decided we wanted to give them a go this season.

At the time, we were advised that Romanesco cauliflowers are an “autum” cauliflower, i.e. they grow best when maturing during the autumn months, like September onwards, rather than a “summer” cauliflower. This is usually because different varieties are better/worse suited to the warmer temperatures and drier conditions we typically experience in the UK in June, July and August.

However, we were so excited to give them a try that we sowed them anyway, with an estimated harvest date of July.

And now we know why we were given the advice…although the best way to learn is always by your mistakes I suppose!

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Don’t get me wrong, the plants produced cauliflowers. However, the purple cauliflowers were on the small side and the Romanesco plants started to “blow”, i.e. go past their best, before they’d reached full size. You can see from the photo below how they’d started to go slightly purple where they were going over the top, but they hadn’t reached their full potential in terms of size.IMG_4489

Both were still very tasty to eat though! And Dad’s done another sowing that should be ready to harvest once the weather is a bit cooler, so we’ll see how they compare in a couple of months time.

Update on our Charisma carrots

Last weekend, it was time to thin out the Charisma carrots. We sowed three seeds per station in these pots with the intention of thinning them down to one per station once they were large enough.

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We took each station in turn, determining which plant we considered was the straightest and strongest, snipping the others off at compost level with a pair of scissors.

In the past, we used to thin carrots in the same way, but we’d pull the entire plant out. However, we found that sometimes this disturbed the compost around the carrot that we were leaving to grow. Therefore, we changed to snipping the unwanted ones off at compost level so as not to disturb the compost around the remaining carrot.

You have to be careful not to attract carrot fly when thinning carrots. The smell of carrots alone can alert them to your crop, and unfortunately once they’ve found them, they are unlikely to want to leave them alone! Therefore, we made sure to collect up all the thinnings so that they could be put on the compost.

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As an extra precaution, we then watered the carrots with a strong solution of Maxicrop liquid seaweed. As the seaweed is quite pungent, we do this to mask any smell of carrot we may have created by thinning them out.

And here’s the finished product!

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Turns out chard is extremely fast growing

After planting the chard out on 11 May, it has got going really quickly. This is some photos of our second cutting of chard, one a fortnight ago, and one yesterday.

The colours are fantastic – and it tastes good too! We’ve also found out that growing chard is very simple to grow. Now it’s planted out, we’re watering once a week and that seems to be working fine! So it looks like a little bit of water and some weeding quite soon and they’ll be happy as Larry!

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Romanesco and purple cauliflower update

Our Purple and Romanesco cauliflowers are growing nicely since we planted them out a few weeks ago. These are starting to get a few weeds around them now, so we’ll need to clear these soon otherwise they’ll be taking over the place.

It also won’t be long before the plants bulk up really rapidly and start to produce cauliflowers (hopefully), by which time the plants will be too big to get in between to clear the weeds anyway.

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We also took a couple of close up shots. We really hadn’t expected the purple cauliflowers to have purple leaves in the centre. I don’t know why really, but just really didn’t expect them to.

When we weed these, we’ll probably give them another sprinkling of chicken pellets to get them some much needed nitrogen to help bulk up the plants before they start producing cauliflowers.

The Grand Old (Red) Duke of York

Our second harvest of 2019 was our Red Duke of York potatoes that we planted on 26 January. The plants haven’t done too badly, but with some of the weather we’ve had, they’ve taken a bit of a battering. However, we noticed last week that the compost was starting to push up out of the pot, so we thought the potatoes might be nearly ready.

After a little bit of poking around, we also found a potato right near the surface. So that was that, we knew we wanted to harvest them and see what we’d managed to grow!

First, we cut down the haulms and removed the canes that had been supporting these. These we upturned the pot and carefully pulled away the peat to unveil the potatoes.

And this is some of what we ended up with!

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Once we’d turned out one pot, we decided we’d need to harvest a second to have enough for 5 of us for Sunday dinner. We couldn’t resist washing one up right away – as the colour was just fantastic!

And this little guy was our favourite. It just goes to show that not everything that you grow can be perfectly formed, but he still tasted just as good!!

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A May update

We wanted to give a quick progress update on some of the other plants we’re growing that haven’t had much air time lately.

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They don’t seem to have moved much since the last update, but we’re hoping they’re doing what they’re supposed to be under the surface!

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Charisma carrots

These carrots germinated well. You may remember that we sowed three seeds per station. The photos below show their progression from a couple of weeks ago to now. These will need to be thinned out in the next week or two to leave just one seedling per station.

Lettuces

We pricked out four varieties of lettuces into cell trays a few weeks back. These have now been planted out into 10 litre pots and seem to be coming along nicely. They will stay in these pots until maturity now, so just need to keep watering them until then!

Spring onions, radishes and carrots

The other salad vegetables that we sowed at the same time as the lettuces are also coming along alright in their pots. These both take longer to grow to maturity than the radishes, which literally take a matter of weeks! But they’re coming along alright for now.

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And finally…one of our first harvests of 2019! The second harvest to come in our next post… Don’t they look delicious?!

 

 

Progress on what can only be described as small purple spaceships…

We decided to grow Kohl Rabi this year. We’ve never tried it before, but thought it looked nice so wanted to give it a go. In fact, we think the plants when mature look like little purple spaceships. But maybe that’s just us…

Last weekend, the plants were ready to be planted out. Well we think they were. We’ve never grown them before, so we can’t be sure. But we understand that they’re part of the brassica family, and they were the same size as we would usually plant out cauliflowers, etc. so we went for it!

We dug a hole with a trowel about 4-5″ deep and then upturned each plant one by one. As you can see, they’ve got a pretty good root system, so probably the right decision to plant them out.

Each plant was placed in the hole and then the hole backfilled with soil and the plant firmed in.

The plants were then carefully watered in to firm the soil around them a little bit more.

 

 

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