During last autumn (or Fall for the Americans amongst us), Mud and I added manure and a thick layer of mulch to the vegetable beds, with a view to enriching them. For the most part, the beds had been rested for a year and with the addition of enriching materials, I had anticipated the healthiest of healthy plants, thriving on the nutrient rich soil. Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out quite like I’d planned. Continue reading
With the warm and sunny weather continuing throughout this week and the seedlings in the propagators quickly outgrowing their nursery conditions, I made the decision to start moving the plants into the greenhouse and have been steadily potting them on, one tray at a time, and already the larger greenhouse is almost full. Mud has informed me more than once that we will no doubt find ourselves in the midst of another freezing cold spell in a day or two but, as Middle Mudlet was happy to point out, that’s what horticultural fleece is for and we have enough to provide protection for everything in the greenhouses. Continue reading
It’s been a while since I did a seed to seedling post because, knowing my soil and space limitations, I tend to grow pretty much the same sort of thing. This year however, we’re growing a variety new to Mudville, the Asparagus Pea, and so I’ll be plotting their progress throughout the year and hopefully we’ll have a wonderful new vegetable to try in a few months time. Continue reading
Every year there comes a point where every available windowsill in the house is home to seeds and/or seedlings because I need to get on with this years crops but it is far too cold to be setting seed in the greenhouses and if I wait any longer then many of the vegetables won’t be ready before the growing season comes to an end. Continue reading
Okay, when I say ‘It’s growing season again’, I don’t mean that you’ve all done a ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and hibernated the rest of your Winter or Summer (depending on where abouts in the world you live) away. No, what I mean is that with the Christmas decorations fast becoming a dim and distant memory and January passing by at a quite alarming rate of knots, I now have the windowsill space to place propagators and the knowledge that officially, our Spring is, along with Greenhouse washing and bed preparation only a matter of weeks away (sorry Sarah) which means that, if I want to stand any chance of harvesting ripe tomatoes, chillis or sweet peppers by the end of the summer, I need to get the seeds sown now!
So, this morning I trundled down to the greenhouses and pulled out three propagator trays, lids and seed tray inners, the potting station and garden labels before, much to the dismay of the array of birds who have been spending vast swathes of time at the feeders, setting about washing and rinsing them outside, before stacking them in front of the Rayburn to dry.
We are growing 5 varieties of chilli this year, including an interesting looking ‘Hot Curry’ chilli which I’ve never grown before but then, to be honest, out of the others, I’ve only ever grown ‘Patio Sizzle’ before which is a hot little chilli in its’ own right. The remaining varieties are: a hot ‘Paper Lantern’; a very hot ‘Tobasco’; and a hot ‘Jalapeno’.
Middle Mudlet helped me choose the Tomato varieties for this year. We settled on three and we haven’t grown any of them before either. One ‘Craigella’ produces a salad sized tomato, we have a mix of baby plum tomatoes called ‘Rainbow Mix’ and a cherry variety called ‘Sweet Baby’.
The final vegetable seeds for sowing today are two varieties of sweet pepper. I’ve never had much success growing sweet peppers but we use loads of them in cooking, the Mudlets like taking them to school to use for a mid morning snack and they are not exactly cheap to buy and, more often than not, are not in the best of condition well before their ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates. So we’re giving them another go but this year, as well as the usual ‘Worldbeater’ variety which produces what I would call a standard looking and sized sweet pepper, we’re also going to try and grow a smaller variety called ‘Mini Red’.
I mentioned back in the Summer/Autumn, that Middle Mudlet had asked for her own patch of garden this year and so she has helped me choose the seeds for this season:
- Winter squash ‘High Sugar Mix’ which is a favourite of mine and contains a mix of four sweet dumpling squash varieties which are ‘Harlequin’, ‘Celebration’, ‘Table Star’ and ‘Sweet Lightning’. The thing about this mix is that you have no idea whatsoever which seeds you have until the fruits start to develop but it is really exciting to see them start to grow, and their different colours add a bit more interest to the vegetable patch;
- Butternut ‘Butterfly’ which was one of the few things I tried to grow last year but to no avail. These are the left over seeds and as this was a gift from one of the Mudlets, I am going to try again this year and, with the beds manured and mulched to within an inch of their lives last Autumn, I’m hoping for a bit more success this year;
- One of Middle Mudlets choices was the Winter Squash ‘Honey Bear’ and I’m sure her decision had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the teddy bear she has had from being a newborn is also called Honey Bear. This squash has a dark green skin with a bright orange flesh;
- She also chose the ‘Atlantic Giant’ pumpkin seeds and we are really looking forward to seeing how these do and if we can actually grow a giant pumpkin for Halloween; and
- We also have the smaller pumpkin ‘Baby Bear’ which is described as a culinary pumpkin.
- The runner bean ‘Enorma’ will grace the back fence this year;
- Climbing bean ‘Blauhilde’ was another of Middle Mudlet choices having been drawn to the thought of purple bean pods decorating the garden;
- She also fell for the unusual looking ‘Asparagus’ pea which is a variety I had never heard off before, never mind seen, eaten or grown. It looks amazing on the packet and I’m as excited as she is to see if we can grow them and find out what they taste like; and
- One of the mainstays of our garden is ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ mangetout which is a prolific and tasty favourite of us all. The Mudlets often have these as snacks for school and can get quite impatient waiting for the first pods to reach munching size.
- Carrot ‘Cosmic Purple’ which was the one seed that Middle Mudlet really, really wanted to grow:
- Another of Middle Mudlets choices is cabbage ‘Minicole’. We don’t usually grow cabbage due to the space required but this is variety can be grown quite close together and can stand ready for cutting for up to four months and so I was happy to give it a go:
- We were both intrigued by the ‘Little Warpath’ lettuce which is described on the packet as the smallest iceberg;
- ‘Mixed Salad Leaves’ are another mainstay of our growing season and so will be sown along with the icebergs and both varieties will be sown at regular intervals to ensure a ready supply of salad leaves;
- Middle Mudlet chose these ‘French breakfast’ radish seeds to try as well. Radish is a crop I’ve never been able to master and have read and followed the advice of numerous bloggers and magazines, all to no avail. Fingers crossed that 2018 will prove to be the year that we crack radish growing; and
- A growing season in Mudville is never complete without sunflowers and we have the ‘Giant Single’ variety for this year.
We still need to get parsnip seeds for this year and another variety of carrot, as well as the green beans but other than that we’re good to go, having bought a bag of approximately 26 King Edward seed potatoes a couple of weeks ago. With the propagators washed and dried, it’s time to get the first of this years seeds sown and then the waiting game for the first sight of seedlings begins.
Wow! Where has this year gone? It only seems 5 minutes since I was planning what I was going to plant in the school garden, agreed to help in the local community garden and took the decision to back off from blogging for a while to allow my mojo to heal and rejuvenate. As for my own garden, it has had the year off to replenish the depleted nutrients which have resulted from several seasons of year on year growing and in spite of zealous digging in of fertilisers. My beds are currently buried under a generous layer of farmhouse manure and freshly mulched hedge clippings, ready for the autumn/winter weather and local population of worms to work their magic, breaking it down into the much needed, aforementioned nutrients. With any luck growing season 2018 is going to be a good one. Continue reading
By the time the younger Mudlets and I left the house to go trick or treating this Halloween, it had been dark for just over an hour and yet we had only had one set of callers. This was great news for the girls who were delighted at the prospect of loads of left over sweets, not to mention my marshmallow spiders but not so good for Mud, who wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of hoards of trick or treaters calling after we had left. Continue reading
A couple of weekends ago I spent about 7 hours across two days, in my vegetable gardening clearing away, pruning, digging up and planting, untangling bean vines from bamboo structures interwoven with garden wire or garden twine. I hoisted, shifted and dragged bags of compost, spent and unused growbags, pots, tubs, house bricks and windblown branches from one place to another. By the end of the weekend I could feel with the usual gentle reprimand from muscles not used to so much activity and treated myself to a long, hot soak in the bath to placate them. Continue reading
There comes a time each growing season, when gardeners have to decide that the chance of hard frosts has passed and they can start to move seedlings and young plants out of their greenhouses, into their final positions and for me, this year, that day was Thursday just gone (19th May). It was a warm but not overly hot afternoon, with a gentle breeze – perfect conditions really, especially for planting the willowy, fragile bean plants. Continue reading
In terms of pumpkins, we have definitely done better this year than last in respect of the number of pumpkins that we have, although they aren’t exactly record breakers. By far the best results have come from the Sugar pie plants, with 5 offerings across 4 plants, but the Jack O’lanterns put in a last minute sprint, producing female flowers late on in August, two of which pollinated, bringing our total number for this variety to 3. Unfortunately, the white skinned ‘Invincible’ pumpkins haven’t done very well at all but I have promised Little Mudlet (she gave me the seeds for Mothers Day back in March) that we will try these again next year.
I think the prolonged cold spell at the start of the season has, once again, delayed the growth of the plants, as another local grow-your-own’er, has experienced similar problems to me and many of her plants have also thrown out a lot of female flowers far too late in the season and, as a result, these wont come to much of anything. Soil depletion is, I believe, another cause for the generally poor performance of my garden this year but topsoil, manure and blood and bones, will be added and dug in over the autumn.
But this is post is a celebration of the pumpkins that, in spite of everything, have grown and will be decorating our house this Halloween and will be used in soups, pies and cakes: