Sunday, 29 April 2007

Ravishing radishes

I got up on saturday morning to find my radishes bigger than ever, and some of them even ripe for pulling (the size of a 10p piece). My first produce! Eight weeks after I sowed their seeds. Six gorgeous little red globes. I've manged to grow the easiest vegetable that apparently even a small child can handle, despite their suffering at the mouths of the slugs. I'm dead chuffed. (Cue raddish montage \/)

Mum and Merlin were also present for the occasion...

The first set of Tomatoes have survived the transplanting and are doing well. This was taken on Saturday, but it seems like they're already twice the size!

After sampling my produce I took some down to Rosie's, and we enjoyed them with salad and beer after a walk through some bright yellow Rapeseed fields. I can't believe how dry the ground is still. In the field below it had deep cracks running all over like a desert. We watched Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth in the evening, and it's hammered home even harder to me how we all need to take action on climate change as soon as possible. It's possibly the biggest challenge facing the human race in our entire history (linked in with resource management and over population). To oversome it is going to involve an altogether different way of thinking and acting together.

After getting back from another hot (felt like July), lazy day at Rosie's, I watered my plants and made my slug beer traps. I also planted some Mange Tout, more Little Gem and some parnsips where there should be some but aren't - although the horse may already have bolted for those. I prepared a seed tray of Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Calabrese too. Mmmm....

The plan for next week is to get my first Tomatoes outside in a makeshift mini greenhouse Rosie's parents gave me for my birthday.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The battle begins...

War is upon us! On the way out to get some compost from the shed I found 6 or 7 juicy plump slugs chowing doen on my radishes. No wonder they're full of holes and growing so slowly. Little bastads. I picked them off and lobbed them as far as I could over the fence, but when I came back there were another 3 or 4 there.

After ejecting them this time I put some chilli pepper, which apparently they don't like, down around the plants. Should do the trick until it rains - which seems pretty unlikey right now. I am being councilled, however, that a more hardline strategy involving salt and pellets is required if I wish to save my lettuces. I want to avoid pellets though (for the birdies) so instead I'm going to try and build some beer traps, employ holly leaves, and design some sort of water feature to attract toads (as if the offer of a slug supper washed down with free beer and salad wasn't enough for them!)

In other news, I bumped into Henry getting off the train this evening, so went round to see how he was getting on. His lettuce is much bigger, the onions he grew from sets are slightly bigger than my garlic and he's already got his courgettes on the go. Planting early seems to be paying off for him, particularily with all the global warming (I'm reading James Lovelock's Revenge of Gaia at the moment. It really is scary stuff that we need to face up to) I also found this little mushroom growing by my carrots while I was slug slinging. \/

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Helpers and Bluebells

I had some help in the garden this weekend, first of all from my cousin Jesse, who came round for tea with his brother Harley and my Uncle Frazer. He watered my poor dried out plants for me.

Then later on, Rosie and I re-potted my first batch of tomatoes, sowed some more carrots and spring onions, and then did some weeding and thinning. My potatoes, spring onions and radishes are all looking healthy (see below), and the lettuce and rocket seedlings are getting bigger. I was a bit concerned about the Tomatoes surviving the transplant but they seem OK so far.

On Sunday Rosie and I went for a walkthrough a lush carpet of bluebellls in the woods at Simms Copse, up on the Downs near Effingham. I'm just annoyed my camera batteries died on me before I got a better shot of them.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Lush green shoots and blossom

Well I got back from Nottingham on Sunday to find everything still very much alive. My new seeds have all appeared with the warm weather, so now there are tiny rocket and lettuce leaves as well as the toms on the windowsill. (above) The big surprise though, was the spuds, which seem to have shot up out of nowhere to a fair size already. (below)

Meanwhile the existing radishes, onions, garlic and tomato seedlings have got even bigger. I'm regretting not planting the toms in individual pots! The biggest are a good 4" now and getting sturdier. (below) I'm concerned that the radishes are going to get too big for the onions they're planted with so tried to move a couple. they seeem to have wilted though. The ground is very dry (like the water butt still!) so I've been watering almost daily.

I've been impressed by the speed with which everything's grown over the weekend actually. My walk to work is now much greener, with all kind of dark greens bursting out the hedges, hundreds of flowers out - including bluebells and violets, the cherry trees in full pink and white blossom and oak, birch and chestnut sporting bright green baby leaves. All very lush. Looking forward to a walk at the weekend.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Lambs and Calves

Well, last week we found a pig, this week it was spring lambs frolicking in the fields and calves chewing the cud. Went on a lot of walks over Easter weekend, and spring has truly sprung with blossom, shoots, birds and bees all out en force - as well as quite a few deer.

I got home on Monday to find my Harbringer Tomato and Sprout seedlings growing away quite happily on the bathroom window sill. I borrowed some seed trays from Rosie's Mum and planted some more Harbringers along with lots of Gardener's Delight cherry tomatoes that I bought. They're now germinating next to the others.

Out in the garden, I did a bit of weeding and thinned out my
onion seedlings. It was quite heartbreaking having to throw some away! I also finalised spacing for everything, using stones and sticks to plan out where everything will go and when it will go in.

Then I sowed some Little gem, Loose leaf lettuce and rocket seeds before digging in some more manure into the areas where I will have my beans, sprouts and broccoli.

Meanwhile, the radishes, onions and spring onions are coming along nicely. The garlic I planted has broken through and now even the first parsnip shoots have appeared!

I’m off juggling this weekend so will leave them in Dad’s care and hopefully find everything still alive when I get back. He finally went out and bought a water butt the other day after much pestering from Mum and I.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Carrots and Coldframes

First thing I did this morning (well, after breakfast) was to weed the patch and thin out my radish seedlings. There's a lot of other stuff seeding intself as well as what I've put there. The good news though, is that the first of the onions are now coming through. They're in between the baby radishes, so I had to be careful what I was doing.

When I fnished, I dug a trough for my carrots in order to get all the stones out, before replacing the dirt and sowing the first row of seeds. I also did my last rows of parsnips and onions.

Merlin was out and about in the garden, sniffing flowers and rolling in dirt. Unfortunately (I was told later), this included the seed beds. The furry menace strikes - and not for the first time either I expect!
Mum got some Little Gem and Rocket seeds during the week, but I didn't have time to get any lettuce in because I'd agreed to go round and see how Henry was getting on before lunch.

He's sown his lettuce under an impressive cold frame, which he made out of a window and some skirting boards. The lettuce seems to like it, along with every other seed in the area! He's also been industriuosly sowing tomatoes and peppers which he's got in an outdoor propogater and his utility room. He's even got some courgettes on the go already, but apparently the're finding it a bit cold outside still.This got me excited about seeing my own Tomatoes get going, and when I got home I was surprised to find they have. The first little sprout and tom shoots have started poking up in the yogurt pots in the bathroom! Intersetingly, it was the pots I'd left damp paper on which have done something, so I've now applied this method to the others.

Spent the rest of the day practicing for a Burnt Toast routine with Strugz and Durbs, so now have a sprained wrist and am pretty spent. Time for bed and another week of work - with the prospect of an imminent four day weekend to get me through! :)