Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Insatiable Squash Grower

I think I am just going to have to accept it - I am a perennial squash grower.  Its a force that cannot be reckoned with.  Its a destiny that cannot be diverted... no matter what life throws in its way!

I am shortly to be moving house.  For this reason, this year I did not partake in the annual propogation of annual tenders like tomatoes, chillies and aubergines.  I put myself on pause for the simple reason that they would be difficult to move to another house especially a house move of such a distance as London to Birmingham.

So I denied myself one of my annual rituals.  I get so much pleasure patiently waiting until that day when the new seedling breaks through the soil and everyday after that grows and grows and grows.  I find it so exciting... it brings out the plant geek in me in a big way!

But this year I didn't do it.  I could read about you all doing it, Twitter was rife with it and I was deeply jealous at not partaking myself!

I thought I'd got over it.  Soon I would be able to do a late spot of propagation in April after our big move and all would be well... but alas, today when I was worrying over my wormery, redistributing food stuffs so all the trays will be a reasonable weight to transport in the move... I spotted what looked like a squash that's germinated all by itself....  I couldn't just leave it there to try and grow in the dark.  No doubt our recent heat helped things along for the little fellow.  So I planted him in a small pot.  Surely it will be OK to transport just one seedling?  It can travel on my knee to Birmingham.  Its only small!!!

I anticipate my boyfriend will say something along the lines of "Go on then" with that knowing look of the pains of having a plant geek of a girlfriend.

(Just between you and me I think he likes me cooking those home grown veggies for him though!)

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Root Veg from the Container Garden

I've been spring cleaning all my containers in readiness for a house move to Birmingham.  Today it was time to empty the roots containers and harvest the contents - beetroots, parsnips and carrots.

When I pulled the roots out, there were interesting results.  I probably planted the same quantity of all three but most of the harvest were beetroots.  I had a few parsnips although all the parsnips had good sized roots and only one carrot.

They were growing in containers about 30 cm deep by 90 cm long and there were two pots. 

All the roots were grown in spent compost that was home to tomatoes the previous year with a little scattering of wormery compost right at the base as a motivator for the roots to seek nutrients. 

I thought that the spent compost would be sufficiently poor for the roots, but maybe it was not poor enough. 

It was probably OK for the parsnips and the carrots as the parsnips formed great roots, but maybe not the right conditions for the beetroot. 

The beetroots didn't form nice, round beets.  Perhaps the soil was still too rich for them?  Another possibility is a lot of the beetroots were long, like carrots so perhaps that little bit of wormery compost treat at the base of the pots has encouraged them to seek the nutrients! 

It is looking likely that I will be growing in open ground next season so many more comparisons between the two styles of gardening to follow I'm sure! 

Towards the end of last season, I was trying to form a list of crops I found easy to grow in containers and to concentrate on these in the future and crops that don't grow so well in containers to grow them in open ground in the community gardens I support with growing advice.  Roots were on the list of things not to grow in containers as although they are not much effort, unless you count watering - I don't think there is such a high yield from them.

On a happy note for roots grown in containers, all the roots above provided me with my evening meal this evening.  I steamed the beetroot tops and roasted the roots and they were delicious!  I think the worms in the wormery will also be really happy to eat the trimmings from these organically grown veg too!

Do you grow roots in containers?  Do find them a success or a struggle?

Some ornamental winter salad

Here's a combination of mustard (purple) and lamb's lettuce. I grew them together in my plastic greenhouse over the winter as they are both supposed to be hardy enough to grow under protection in winter.  I had no idea what a pretty combination they would make!

Now inspired to mix lollo rosso lettuce with a really vibrant green one.  

Have you come across any beautiful salads?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Spring Sunshine in the Community Garden

Gardening in Bramford Community Garden on Sunday was such a sheer pleasure this weekend.  It usually is a pleasure, catching up with  TTWandsworth garden friends, a good spot of weekly gardening on the plot working through our exciting action plan. 

But this weekend we were especially spoilt with the hazy spring sunshine that gave it that extra special nostalgic feeling a bit like playing outside when you were a child.

There were chats, Federico brought a good selection of heritage and unusual seeds so a spot of seed swapping (he has a really good selection of Cucurbits!) and we started our Biochar test bed.  There were preparations for the Big Dig event next Saturday and distribution of flyers.  Please come along and garden with us next Saturday from 11am ttwandsworth@hotmail.co.uk

It was so lovely sowing the seeds when this is an annual pleasure I am so far denying myself this year with my soon to happen move up to Birmingham in three weeks.  But I was able to get my fix in sowing some carrot, parsnip, spinach and beetroot seeds in the Biochar test raised bed and its mirror test bed without the Biochar.

I am definitely going to have to come back for a few visits to see the garden in a month or two just to see how things are coming along.  So many exciting things planned for this year... The results of the Biochar test, crop rotation plan, wild flower meadow, edible orchard and that doesn't include all the events and socialising... I think June would be a good month to pop down for a visit!