Most of southern Britain has been hit hard by the rain during the past week or two. It's starting to feel more like Spring or Autumn than Summer! The good news here in Cornwall that the rain has been interspersed with periods of warm sunshine; perfect veggie growing conditions!
|Tomatoes are taking over!|
My tomato plants are getting almost big enough to flower. I have sixteen plants, which are currently taking up my entire windowsill. I am trying to harden them off, but it takes a good 10-15 minutes getting them all arranged for a day in the garden because I can only carry two at a time!
Top tips for tomatoes:
- Make sure you tie your tomatoes firmly to a stake at several places along the main stem, leaving just enough room so you don't damage the plant (about half a centimetre).
- Regular watering is essential, especially when fruiting. If you allow the soil/compost to completely dry out, the tomatoes will split when they next receive water.
- Apply fertiliser weekly once the fruits begin to develop.
I planted some basil at the same time as the tomatoes. Can you believe the difference in size of the two plants?? The basils are about 1.5 inches high, the tomatoes are about three feet tall!
I also sprinkled some out-of-date carrot seeds in a tub of compost in the hope that I might get some germination. Usually we have very little success with carrots but lots of them have come up (far too close together, so they will have to be thinned later on). They're starting to get their true leaves now too! :)
|Tiny carrot seedlings|
Top tips for carrots:
- Carrots require a sandy soil, so if you have a clay-type soil like mine, your best bet is to grow them in a deep container.
- Try not to damage/crush the leaves because the smell will attract carrot fly (top tip from my Dad!).
- Keep plants well watered to avoid woody carrots.
I have three tiny pea plants too. The seeds were again old ones from a couple of years ago and did not germinate very well. I need to stake the plants now because they have started putting out tendrils looking for support.
A month ago I had a few cooking potatoes left in the bottom of a bag that had started to sprout. This is “chitting” and means that if planted they should develop into new plants. We planted them and the resulting plants are coming up nicely.
Top tips for potatoes:
- Potatoes should be watered during the growing season if there isn't regular rain.
- Apparently you should cut the green, above-ground part of the plant off two weeks before you lift the crop. This enables the tubers to develop a thicker skin less prone to damage from digging up and storing.
Sharing the vegetable patch with the potatoes are some onions (growing nicely from sets), some lettuces, swiss chard, swedes and some cabbage plants. (The leeks did not fare well against marauding pigeons!) These little guys are coming along well, although none of them are without a few slug-chomp-marks.
Tips for growing cabbages:
- Grow cabbages in a different spot every year, to reduce build up of the many diseases they are prone to contracting.
- Watch out for butterfly eggs (small oblong-shape) on the underside of leaves. Caterpillars can devastate your crop almost overnight!
Over to you, Mary, Mary, quite contrary. How does your garden grow?