The air was crisp but the sun was shining first thing this morning and so with the Mudlets delivered to school I decided to take a stroll down to my vegetable patch and greenhouses, to check on the progress of the various plants.
First, I peeked into the mini poly tunnel/growhouses to see how the cabbages, cauliflowers, onions, garlic and broccoli are doing. The first poly tunnel which is home to the cabbage and cauliflowers, has some moth eaten plants in it but, for the most part, they appear to be holding their own and whilst the cold, damp weather has slowed their growth somewhat, they are bigger than when I last looked and so, with any luck, we will have something to harvest come spring.
Over in the second poly tunnel, most of the onions are through and the broccoli are looking a little more threadbare than the cabbages and cauliflowers were but they are still growing and may yet prove useful. As for the garlic, there is no sign of them yet. Unfortunately, the conditions under the plastic covers are just as appealing to weeds as they are to vegetable plants and I was hard pressed to see all the onion shoots amongst the green of the weeds. Five minutes with the trowel and there was a marked improvement. I will need to keep a careful eye on these unwanted interlopers.
Next stop was the little greenhouse, with its’ bubble wrap lining still, for the most part, intact and although the chilli plants that were over wintering there are a lost cause, the herbs, strawberries, cabbage and cauliflower seedlings are obviously enjoying the extra protection offered by the insulation and the greenhouses’ polycarbonate panels. Indeed the cabbage and cauliflower plants are much further on than those in the outside shelters which is no real surprise, given the very cold, damp, stormy and generally miserable winter we’ve been having so far.
A visit to the larger greenhouse was next although there isn’t much happening in there. That said the pots of strawberry runners that I caught up last Autumn are looking pretty happy and it won’t be long before they can be moved outside, to acclimatise before being potted on which is just as well because it will soon be time for the annual greenhouse clean ….. but I’m not going to think about that just yet!
As I walked passed the raised beds, a smidgen of green caught my eye and I realised it was the ‘Giant Red’ carrot tops I had planted last summer. Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis will be aware that I am trying, where possible, to start saving my own seed. The ‘Giant Red’ carrots I grew last year were from The Real Seed Catalogue and so I was keen to try and save seed from these if I could. Traditionally, as I understand it, this would have involved leaving a couple of the carrots to go to seed but as we hadn’t really grown sufficient to actually not pull them all, this put me into a bit of a quandary.
Then a friend said that her mother reckoned that if I kept the very top section, including the leaves, of one or two of the carrots and then replanted them, they may well grow roots and produce the flowers I needed for seed collection. Carrots flower in their second year which is why it was advised to leave one or two of the carrots in situ, as they would die back over winter and regrow during spring and eventually produce the flower.
So, one damp summers day, I replanted three carrot tops, complete with leaves and left them to it. Over the next few weeks, all three died back completely and so thinking it hadn’t worked, I covered the bed with manure and forgot all about them ……. until this morning, when I spotted the bright green of a carrot leaf growing from two of the carrot tops! Yay! I will keep you posted as to how I do with this particular seed saving endeavour.
My inspection of the garden finished near the two huge half barrel tubs which are currently home to some strawberry plants which also appear to be doing well and with that, I headed in for a coffee, passing, as I went, the really annoying ivy that seems to be intent on taking over the extension and needs dealing with but I’ll tell you all about this particular problem in another post in a day or two.