Thursday, 23 June 2011

Update on basil cuttings

Back on 1st June, I decided to try to increase a basil plant by means of cuttings rooted in water. I was a little dubious about this method but I shouldn't have been. The cuttings put on so many roots I was quite taken aback. Not only at/below the leaf nodes, but all the way down the stems.

I have further experimented. The stems were around 10cm/4-inches long so I potted 2 up without cutting the stems down - one in a deepish 7.5cm/3-inch pot, the other in a large pot with some other herbs. The last two I cut down by half and potted into smaller pots. I've used a multi purpose compost rather than ordinary garden soil.

That was about 6 days ago and they seem to be least they haven't drooped or died off.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Ups and downs

This season seems to be a bit hit and miss for my shady patch. Whilst the plum tree is still doing really well (lots of fruit) my rhubarb plant has died. It started off ok but then suddenly went.

The potatoes are romping away as are the carrots, parsnips and leaf beet but all the seeds I sowed indoors are very dodgy. The beans seem to be perking up now, especially with the recent rain, but I lost the two butternut plants (I've now sown some seed directly in the open ground) and the courgette plants don't look right either. I've never seen such small leaves.

The chillie seedlings are also languishing and I am convinced the tomato seedlings aren't actually tomatoes. A friend thinks they look more like aubergines. Good job he happened to bring me a couple of tomato plants he had raised. Thanks Simon.

I guess that's gardening.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Basil plants from cuttings

I never have much luck growing basil from seed or keeping basil plants bought from supermarkets indoors for any length of time. Last year I planted an indoor plant outside in the open ground which survived in the open ground all summer. This year I'm going to have a go at taking cuttings from a plant I recently bought from a supermarket (before it dies on me) - something I've never done before. The instructions seem simple enough

1. Choose 10cm/4-inch stems and using a sharp blade (not scissors) cut just below a leaf node - the part on the stem where new leaves/stems sprout.

2. Strip any leaves from 3/4 of the stem then place in a glass of water and leave in a very bright but not too hot place until roots start to form on the stem making sure to change the water every couple of days.

3. Once the roots are around 5cm/2-inches long, pot up individual stems into pots at least 10cm/4-inches wide, filled with potting compost. Water in and then place in direct sunlight. It recommended that the plant gets at least six hours of bright, direct sunlight each day.

I've done steps 1 and 2 as you can see in the picture above and hopefully in a few weeks I'll have 4 new basil plants potted up whilst still having the main plant available for use in my kitchen

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.