I managed to get the courgettes and sweetcorn – growing fantastically in their little pots – planted out, with much less drama (and carnage!) than previous attempts. While part of me accepts that using these things are kind of cheating, I just have so much more success than trying to do it the traditional seed-tray way that I’m willing to cheat. Besides, I figure the increased survival of seedlings more than outweighs the additional cost of the pots.
Only 2 of my courgettes put in an appearance, and 11 sweetcorn – just the right number, considering the spaces I’d planned for them. Well, the courgettes have a very generous amount of space but with luck they’ll grow into huge plants.
The potatoes are coming on incredibly well, and are now flowering. I never quite got around to earthing them up (well I always said I was lazy) but I’ve not noticed any tubers peeking through, and if it just means a slightly lower yield then, well, I’m willing to pay that price for eliminating a tedious job. We’ll see come harvest time!
On other news, the cabbages are beginning to put in a good show. They started to get eaten much like last year, but this time instead of blaming pigeons I have to admit I noticed a few slug trails. Putting my organic gardener aside, I was fairly generous on the slug pellets and my garden is now filled with dead slugs (which isn’t great) and uneaten cabbage seedlings (which is!). It seems I was maligning the pigeons.
Finally, we picked up some tomato plants at the garden centre, which I’ve put into containers, as we don’t really have any room for them. We got three different plants, ‘Sun Baby’, ‘Diplom’ and the more traditional ‘Shirley’. With luck we should get an interesting mix of tomatoes this year, if I can keep them watered!
Today saw a respite in the rain, so I took the opportunity to push further back in the clearing – I’m going to declare it pretty much done (well, the first pass clearing anyway) because although there are a few little branches still lurking it’s all minor stuff.
I’m still in two minds about whether to bother with the really serious digging; there’s only a couple of courgette plants going in there, and I’m seriously tempted to let them break up the soil this season in the hopes that any remaining roots will be well loosened come the autumn. Part of me worries that I’m just inventing this kind of logic as an excuse to avoid digging, but I’m probably going to let myself give in and avoid the extra work!
There’s always a price to pay, and this time it’s in the form of a rather annoying blister on my index finger – probably from all the grubbing around in the soil and yanking roots out. Still, at least it looks like I’ve been doing some real work for a change.
In other news, last weekend was raining too much to get out but instead I sowed the courgettes and sweetcorn in the little expanding soil pot things (I really ought to look up their name!) – remarkably they’ve made great progress and are already standing a couple of inches tall and eagerly awaiting the fresh air!
I’ve noticed that this blog is a little “image-lite”, so I thought I’d show you who it is that keeps an eye on me and makes sure I’m doing a good job. This little robin (and his friend) spent this weekend watching me like a hawk, and waiting patiently for me to dig up food and nesting material for him!
This weekend saw a new experience for me – serious weeding. Previous years have been sufficiently chaotic and disorganised that I’ve pretty much put stuff in the ground, failed to thin it out, and ignored it until it was time to eat. There was a positive lawn underneath the sweetcorn by the time I finished last year.
This time around I’ve been far more organised, had more ground cleared, and have planted things out at more sensible distances. The upside is that things should grow bigger and better; the downside is that weeds can actually make progress! So this weekend saw me on my hands and knees actually pulling out weeds – an experience which really took me back to childhood.
I also started work on the last couple of yards at the back of the garden, which I need to clear PDQ as that’s where the courgettes are scheduled to go. I got probably 2/3rds of the way through (sadly the remaining third has a large tree stump in it!) on a first pass; hopefully the deep digging will go a lot quicker now.
Perhaps that needs explaining. I’m now getting right back into areas of the garden that haven’t been touched for decades, apart from me hacking down bushes when they got out of control. That means that the ground is full of weeds and roots (mostly bramble, and some unidentifiable tree/bush stuff) and is damn hard work to get into. So what I do as a first pass is to pull up anything I can, and dig over just the top few inches with a hand fork, getting out what roots I can. Any biggish roots I’ll try and excavate and get rid of as best I can. After that, I can give it a proper dig with a fork (only a fork deep, mind – I’m not crazy!) and it goes a lot easier after that first pass.
Happily it’s been raining ever since, which is (a) good for the crops, and (b) gives me some time to recover before having to go and do that second pass digging!
Well, since my last update I’ve done little more than some light weeding, and the occasional watering.
In return, the final potato plant has put in an appearance, and despite looking like some have been sat on by birds, squirrels or cats, even all 13 cabbage plants continue to grow strongly. They’ve got over that initial transplant ‘hiccup’ and they’re all well into their ‘proper’ leaves now.
The onions look more and more positive, and the spring onions are bravely trying to put in a show – although so far they’re the least convincing crop.
Having started some of my crops far too early, I’m now beginning to feel jumpy about how late I’ve left others. I have sweetcorn and courgettes earmarked to go in, and they should be started Real Soon Now – the ground is clear for the sweetcorn but I’m uncomfortably aware that I need to do some digging if I’m going to have anywhere for the courgettes to go. But perhaps if I’ve got the seedlings sitting on the window sill taunting me, that will push me into getting on with it.
I’ve also realised that I’ve managed to allocate all the space and not leave any room for leeks – happily they’re pretty flexible about when they get planted, so if the spring onions pull their fingers out, I should be fine. Or maybe it’s a sign that I should clear some more ground…!