Friday, 27 May 2011

Can I grow proper watercress at home?

In the past, I've grown land cress which, whilst quite nice, is far more coarse than normal watercress bought from the shop.

True watercress is commercially grown in running water - obviously not possible for the likes of me with my shady, postage-stamp sized garden. However, I came across what seems to be a new variety called Aqua, which suggests it's much more refined than land cress. So I decided to give it a go.

The instructions on the packet recommended growing the watercress in containers which are permanently stood in trays of water throughout their growing cycle so I sowed the seeds outdoors in late April in a couple of 6-inch pots. Germination was a little patchy, so earlier this month I spread the little plants out more evenly to give them space to develop. As the picture shows, they are doing very well, despite the fact I let the trays dry out a couple of times though not for very long - naughty me !

They are still quite small so I have resisted tasting them as they are bound to be tender at this stage, but I reckon it will only be a few more weeks before I can start harvesting.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Hardening off

Once again, my runner beans have gone loopy and should be planted out sooner rather than later. Good job the weather has been so good in my part of the world. I skipped the usual steps of putting them out for just 1 hour on the fiurst day and gradually increasing the time they spend outside. I've just brought thhem in in the evening.

My extra long bamboo canes are already in place - they are about 8ft tall. As with last year, I plan to sow some extra runner bean seeds direct in the ground when I put the plants in so i get a prolonged cropping period.

I've done the same with the courgettes, butternut, tomatoes and chillies re hardening off, although I must admit I made a mistake with the courgettes. I placed them on the windowsill of a very sunny window to germinate but it was too sunny and scorched the edges of the leaves. I'm hoping it won't have too detrimental an effect on the plants.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Plums Galore

My Victoria plum tree is outdoing itself.

It's in its 2nd year in my ownership, so I am guessing it's actually 3/4 years old. Currently standing around 6ft tall with a 4ft spread in a 2ft wide container.

Last year I got 2 lovely plums. I have just counted over 40 small (about 2.5cm/1-inch long) plums and they don't look as though they are in any danger if falling off either !

The next important decision is whether to thin them. The last time a grew a plum tree(fan trained) in a pot, I just let it do its thing but after one really heavy crop, it never did very well. I don't want the same thing to happen again, so I think I am going to remove 1 in 3 plums so it doesn't exhaust itself too much this year...despite my old man's protestations.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Indoor sown veggies

Last year I sowed my tender veggies such as courgettes and beans indoors too early which resulted in some of the plants getting a little leggy before the weather was warm enough to put them outside. This year I waited until the very end of April before sowing courgettes, tomatoes and chillies indoors.

The given advice is to seal in a polythene bag or place in a propagator, but I did nether - just stood the pots on a windowsill and kept them damp. A week later the courgettes and tomatoes started to germinate: this picture was taken yesterday. Looking promising although the chillies haven't made any show at all.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

New Herb Plants

Earlier in the year I came across what seemed to be a good deal online: 6 herb plants for £7.95. So I ordered them. They arrived yesterday. For some reason I thought they would be much larger plants, perhaps in 10cm/4-inch pots but as you can see from the top picture, they are just small "plug" type cuttings. I probably read it wrong.

Never mind, I'll just have to wait a little longer than anticipated to harvest. The collection consisted of 2 different thyme plants, 2 different sage plants, 1 tarragon and 1 rosemary. Anyway, I have done as directed and potted them up. I've used 7.5cm/3-inch square pots. I'll re-pot again into larger containers them later in the season as and when necessary

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Update on my seed Potatoes

As I mentionbed in a previous post, this is the first time I've grown potatoes from bought seed potatoes. I am very pleased to report they have all sprouted, albeit some earlier than others.

This is mainly due to the fact that they are different varieties which mature at different times, but as you'll see in the photo, there are a couple of plants which are much larger, so I am guessing I didn't plant those as deeply as the rest. Doesn't really matter.

Once up, the plants are growing quite quickly so I will have to start earthing them up very soon. I've got quite a lot of earth available to earth them up (partitially cover the green parts with soil) so hopefully that will be more potatoes.

I planted 3 varieties. The ones on the right hand side should be ready to harvest by the end of June; the ones in the middle should be ready to harvest by the end of July; the ones on the left will be last and I'll probably leave those until September/October in the hope they will grow into bigger specimens.

I'm planning to replace the right/middle harvested potatoes with spring cabbage plants in August which should last through the winter to provide me with fresh greens next year.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Not just edibles

I thought I'd just do a quick post to show off my clematis which is growing in a 30cm/12-inch pot.

It's an early flowering Montana Rubens which I brought with me this time last year when we moved. I had to cut it right down which is always a worry, but it bounced back pretty quickly and, as you can see, is flowering beautifully a year later. It may look a bit sparse but that's only because I didn't put up proper training wires or trellis and the top bit has drooped down. Still pretty though and a welcome splash of early colour. With a bit of luck, it will flower again later in the year.