Planning for 2019

It’s really hard at this time of year not to wish away your life in return for the early arrival of summer and the possibility of harvesting the vegetables you have grown. But whilst we have to wait patiently for the weather to warm up (extremely patiently based on the snow that has been forecast over the past week!), it’s a great time to stay indoors and plan for the year ahead.

It’s always good to try some new things, but also to stick to some of the crops you’ve grown and loved before and can look forward to growing once again. Too much change and you set yourself an almost impossible task with failure almost destined as you try to grapple with growing some many unfamiliar vegetables all in one go!

Needless to say, despite my comments above – looking through the various seed catalogues and on their websites, our list of “want-to-grows” almost doubled, with all the eye-catching photos of the crops you can grow!

So here’s our plan for the year ahead. Fingers crossed we get round to it all!

  1. Potatoes. We’ve decided on three sowings – early new potatoes (hopefully ready for harvest in May, a second sowing ready in July and a third that will hopefully give us new potatoes for Christmas! Refer to our previous blog post for the early new potatoes, as these were planted last week. We’ve gone for Red Duke of York and Charlotte.
  2. Chard. We’ve never grown this, but like its colours – so we’re going for a pink and orange selection to get that rainbow effect. We bought some from the supermarket to try it before we committed to growing it from scratch, as we wanted to make sure we liked it! It went down well – so here we are!
  3. Sweetcorn. I’ve grown this at home before as a kid, but Chris fancied his chances with it this year. Initially we were going to grow the multicoloured cobs (you can see a theme emerging here!)… until we found out that apparently it looks a lot better than it tastes. So, standard yellow it is!
  4. Kohl rabi. We think that the end product looks like spaceships – what more reason do you need to give it a try?! There are green and purple varieties – surprise surprise, we’ve gone for purple.
  5. Romanesco cauliflowers. So we grew cauliflowers last year, which we may well do again. However, fancied a slight change and wondered whether Romanesco cauliflowers taste the same. We’ve gone for one of the green (rather than purple this time!) varieties as they are so bright! I’m kind of imagining it’s going to taste like broccoli, but we’ll have to wait and see.
  6. Dwarf beans. We found a variety that advertised “easy picking” bush plants. They sound ideal. They don’t use up much space and they’re easy to pick – so we’ve gone for those.
  7. Peppers. We’re trying two varieties (so far!), and neither are similar to the bell-style ‘Gogorez’ peppers we grew in 2018. The first, is going to be Padron – a medium-sized long pepper that makes for a great Tapas dish and is harvested before it goes red (not to say we might not leave a few of them red to see how they differ!). The second, is a chilli pepper by the name of ‘Machu Pichu’ which is by no means the hottest chilli pepper, but should give a little extra spice to a few of our favourite dinners.
  8. Garlic. We like to use garlic in cooking, so thought we’d see how easy it was to grow our own. The bulbs are purchased, and are waiting for us to plant out once the weather perks up a bit.

And some firm favourites from last year:

  1. Radishes
  2. Carrots
  3. Lettuce
  4. Spring onions
  5. Cucumber
  6. Courgettes
  7. Strawberries

I’m sure we’ve forgotten something – we’ve just got to hope we remember before sowing time! We also haven’t firmed up sowing dates etc. yet, but watch this space…!

A quick July update

Now the weather is warm and the days are long, everything grows surprisingly quickly. Here are a few photos of how our various crops are getting on.

The second sowing of radishes are starting to swell, so it won’t be long before we’re eating these! The beetroot are also getting almost big enough to eat – we can’t wait!

The cucamelons have already grown beyond the short canes we gave them in order to reach the main climbing trellis. I love their tendrils which keep them attached so securely to it! The courgettes are also producing lots of fruits now. I would say on average, one courgette every 2-3 days.

The cucumber plant is also growing steadily and was tied up to its batten for the first time at the weekend. You can see that the compost is not kept too wet around the cucumbers, as we find that their stems can often rot off where this is the case.

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The brassicas are also growing on nicely after we pricked them out last weekend. These will remain in the same pots until they’re planted out, so just need to be watered until then and monitored to make sure not pests decide to land!

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A general update

The courgettes are growing well in their pots and are starting to produce lots of courgettes. Once ready, carefully cut the courgettes with a knife, ensuring the main stem of the plant is not damaged.

The cucamelons are growing away well – we think they’ll be ready to plant out next week! However, as they’ve been growing in a cold greenhouse so far, we have now put them outside in a slightly protected area to harden them off before we plant them out.

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The beetroot that we planted outside are also doing well and are starting to swell. They’ll still be a little while longer, but it’s always good when you start to see them forming beetroot! Going back to successional sowings, you can see that three different sowings of beetroot have now been planted out across this bed.

Our second sowing of radishes are germinated and growing away nicely. All being well, these should be ready to eat in 2-3 more weeks!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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