Archive for the 'Propagating' Category

mtp

Radish Seedlings Emerging

It seems like a long time since my coldframe has seen any action but I took a look in there today and found these little fellas – some Radish that I sowed about a week ago. Radish are pretty hardy blighters and are usually one of the first things I sow. They come up quickly in most conditions and as such are perfect for kids to grow.

If you grow them undercover in a coldframe for example, not much harm can come to them. They might get munched on by the odd slug but at this time of year they certainly won’t get infested with flea beetle and I find that my first harvest of Radish is normally nigh on perfect (she says, trying not to tempt fate this year!)

This particular variety are French Breakfast, but I quite fancy having a go at some purple ones like this Purple Plum variety.

Anyone got any recommendations on variety or growing tips?

mtp

Started Sowing

I started sowing today. I sowed a row of Radish, some Carrots (Early Nantes) and some Oakleaf Lettuce in the coldframe. I also sowed some Broadbeans (Bunyards Exhibition) in terracotta pots and put them into the coldframe to germinate. Later on I’ll transplant them into the ground.

It feels good to get some plants on the go. Spring is tantalizingly close now and on sunny days it almost feels like it’s here already. But I’m being on the cautious side and focusing all my efforts on the coldframe right now. After all it is still February!

mtp

When to Plant Out Tomatoes

I learned something today. I always thought that as soon as you had hardened your Tomatoes off then they should go straight in the ground – assuming there’s no risk of frost, that is. But apparently there is another factor at work, that of overnight temperature.

Apparently, you’re looking for a consistent temperature of not less than 55F (12C) at night. If the temperature is lower than this then the plants may not set fruit and it might actually set the whole plant back.

I find Metcheck to be pretty good for in-depth weather reporting (in the UK at least). It seems that the temperature is still fluctuating to lows of 44F ish or even 38F here in the sunshine state of Bath. But that next week is showing a consistent night temperature over 55F.

So home-sown Tomatoes will stay tucked up under fleece for now. But next week, who knows, they might find themselves in the ground.

How are your Tomatoes doing? Any tips on other factors that affect when to plant out?

There’s nothing like a sunny day to give you a kick start in the garden. Today, was glorious and I managed to get all the jobs on my list done and checked off. The first ones to benefit were my Tomato seedlings who spent the whole day outside soaking up the rays.

The Cauliflowers that I’ve been hardening off for the last week also went in the ground.

And I took the plunge and transfered my Winter Lettuce from the coldframe to the soil. Although, I did cover them with some fleece just incase it gets chilly tonight.

Jackson followed me around the garden all day with a dustpan and brush, shouting, ‘mess!’ and attempting to sweep up after me – awww! I’ve taught him well :)

I also planted my Potatoes and sowed some Courgettes, Pumpkins, more Lettuce, Parsley, Beetroot and Sunflowers. Phew! time for a cup of tea and a sit down, I think.

mtp

Hardening Off Cauliflowers

The Winter-hardy Cauliflowers (Avalanche) that I sowed back in October in the coldframe have grown very well. And part one of the Cauliflower plan has been completed. I’m desperate for some room in the coldframe right now though so I potted some up a few weeks ago with a view to hardening them off to plant outside soon.

They’re doing well underneath this fleecy wigwam that I constructed with the help of some Figo connectors. I had the fleece off all day today since it was sunny and sort of warm. But I did see a sneaky Cabbage White butterfly flitting around which means I’ll have to check the underside of their leaves for eggs before I tuck them up tonight.

I left some in the coldframe for now in an attempt to stagger the crop. I have never managed to grow an edible Cauliflower, but I’ll keep trying. Year after year, oh yes. Any tips, apart from liming the soil, planting them firmly and protecting from butterflies?

mtp

Peas Proving Difficult

I sowed some more Peas in lengths of guttering today – why? because the last two sowings didn’t even bother to appear! They just rotted, in situ. Humph! I’ve never really had this problem before. In 2008 I was transferring them into the ground by April 6th! And I can’t even look at the 2007 photo.

I’ve been doing my Peas in this way for nearly five years now and every time I’ve had no problem.

Yes, this Winter has been cold. And yes, the growing season has been set back about two or three weeks (I’d say). I only have to look at the tight buds on my Peach tree to see that we’re not at the same stage we were this time last year.

But Peas? They’re normally such stalwarts. Anyway, I’ve switched seed just incase it’s a bad batch and I’m crossing my fingers for this sowing. I can’t be missing out on my Minted Peas, it’s just not an option.

Is anyone else having problems with germination? Or is it just me…

mtp

Sowing My Tomatoes

It’s time to dig out my heated propagator and start sowing some of the more delicate plants, like Tomatoes and Chilli Pepper in order to give them the best chance possible to get big and strong before I plant the out in early Summer. Tomatoes and Chillis in particular need the longest growing season I can possibly give them. So as soon as the light levels started to increase I decided to start sowing.

I find it quite useful to use a wooden stirring stick (donated by Starbucks) to cover my seeds with compost. They’re smaller than a dibber and are perfect for close work like sowing seeds.

Then I always make sure to water the seeds from below, rather than above so as not to dislodge the seeds.

I must admit I’m not a big fan of heated propagators. They do their job alright but they’re so ugly! I really don’t want something that ugly on my kitchen windowsill. Plus, no matter what I do, the condensation always leaks out. So the whole thing ends up sitting in a pool of water most of the time :(

Does anyone have a better looking one than the bog-standard black plastic tray with clear plastic lid?

mtp

Thinning my Winter Lettuce

About three weeks ago I posted this photo of my coldframe brimming with over-Wintering Lettuce. Since then the Lettuce has continued to grow, albeit slowly. Today, I decided to thin out some of the Lettuce as they were getting a little crowded. So I took out about half the original number. This sadly means I only have four or five of each variety (Winter Gem & Winter Density) but they’ll be bigger and healthier heads now.

The plants that were left I firmed in a little and gave them a little water. They should be all set now for their forthcoming growth spurt. I’m already looking forward to my first Spring salad. I even sowed some Radish alongside them which will hopefully be ready at the same time. Ahhh! It’s good to be back.

mtp

Sowing Broadbeans

I sowed some Broadbeans (Aquadulce) a couple of days ago. In the photo you can see that I’m also being wuss-pants and I had my camping heater on to keep me warm! I know, I know. If I was a true gardener and all that. But hey, I don’t want cold fingers and you just can’t sow seeds with your gloves on, can you?

In to the coldframe they go. In the photo you can see I’ve got quite a few things growing in the coldframe. On the left is my Cauliflower (Avalanche) that I sowed in the Autumn and on the right are two varieties of over wintering Lettuce (Winter Gem and Winter Density).

I’m really pleased with my seedlings in the coldframe. They sat through the snow and all the harsh frosts we’ve had. They’re a bit spindly but I’m sure they’ll toughen up once the light levels increase. I have high hopes for some early Lettuce and a Cauliflower crop!

What’s in your coldframe – if you have one?

I’ve been looking for an opportunity to get my overwintering Onion sets in. No luck, it’s a quagmire out there.

I don’t usually do overwintering Onions. I normally put them in around end of Feb/March depending on the weather. But I’ve decided that I’ll be so bored over the Winter that I need something to keep me going! I’m attempting Peas and Broadbeans too.

It’s looking hopeful for tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get some other things done from my ‘rain-challenged’ list of things to do in November.

Anyone else overwintering? Whatcha growing?

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