I’ve not posted for a bit because I’ve been too busy catching up with things outside now the weather has improved. It isn’t too bad but still colder than I’d expect here for the time of year. When rain has stopped play I’ve been catching up with work indoors.
As I walked up to the old pig-sty shed I noticed the jostaberry has burst into life. They are so vigorous, making their parents – blackcurrants and gooseberries – look slow. Hopefully I’ll keep the birds from feasting on the fruit this year.
I’ve had the first disappointment of the year, the germination rate on the onion seed has been pathetic. They were out of date seeds but I was confident they’d be OK. Happily more of the over-wintered onions have survived than I thought when I looked at them in the snow and I’ve got some sets to go in as soon as.
The Aquadulce Claudia broad beans started in pots have finally gone out. They were really overdue but what can you do when the ground is frozen? The roots were circling the base of the pots so some careful teasing as they went in.
The main crop of broad beans have been sown in rootrainers. It will be interesting to compare them with the pot grown. These are Kamazyn, a compact plant with pink beans. Hopefully the flavour will be as good as Red Epicure, which are delicious.
The parsnips are looking well, they’re off heat now and I’ll be planting them out in a week or so. My cunning plan is to use the spade-handle dibber I use for leeks to make a hole and slip them in from the rootrainer with minimal disturbance. I do hope this all works!
Peppers, Aubergines & Tomatoes
The peppers and aubergines in the Vitopod are doing really well, I’ve had to add a second tier to the sides as they were pushing the lid. They’re getting supplementary lighting for 3 hours from dawn and before sunset. It makes a bigger difference than you might think to their growth.
All the propagators are in use now. I’ve added another one to my propagator collection, just a cheapie electric one without thermostatic control but I’m running it through a controlling thermostat bought on Ebay.
It’s all very sophisticated compared to my first heated propagation system. That consisted of a wooden box just wide enough to sit a seed tray on. It took 4 trays. Inside I had two 40 watt lightbulbs with tin heat spreaders above. It was controlled by a central heating thermostat – car boot sale, 50p – so reacted to the air temperature in the greenhouse. I’ve still got the controller!
Less high-tech, the potatoes are chitting nicely in the shed. If the weather is anything like then I’ll make a start on planting out over the weekend. Oddly the Sarpo varieties always seem slow to chit but once they get going in the ground they’re really strong growers.
I planted out some calabrese and moved the cabbage (Hispi) seedlings into the coldframe. They’re doing nicely but it was a near run thing the other day. I woke up and looked outside to see nearly the worst garden pest you can have. A stray sheep.
I don’t know where she’s from – no markings or ear tags – but she’s on her own which isn’t nice for sheep. They want to be in a flock with other sheep so a single sheep is a sad and lonely thing. I went out and shouted, waving my arms, and she ambled to the wall and jumped over like an Olympic athlete. As she headed off down the track towards the village I felt a bit sorry for her. If she’d eaten the brassicas I might have felt a little differently!
To me it’s a greenhouse but to the cats it’s a summerhouse. I’d hardly had the door open for 5 minutes when she was in there.