Sowing, potting, planting … and watering

It’s all systems go here, with an endless round of planting out, potting on and sowing seeds, and we haven’t even really started on successional sowing yet (where you plant a second or third batch a few weeks later so you have later crops when the first lot finish).

The spring broccoli haven’t really produced anything yet, the spindliest ones produced some apologies for flower buds (which I ate in a risotto) and the larger ones are just larger and growing, but not budding up.  It may be lack of rain – we havent had any to speak of for two months and my rainwater water-butts are practically empty as I’ve been putting about 10 litres per square meter per week on the plants that are either seedlings or flowering (most of them).  And of course the seedlings in pots on the patio need watering too.  Mind you they are all looking healthy and I seem to have done better with my seedlings than in previous years so far.

The summer broccoli are growing well and I’ve been thinning them out to give leaves to the guinea pigs.  I’m down to about 12 young plants now (from the original 36 seedlings planted) with an aim to get 4 or 6 mature plants.  They’ll be growing in amongst the corn which I sowed yesterday.  I read a tip in the paper to water thoroughly before sowing corn then not to worry about watering, let it go down and find the deep water below ground.   I’ve sowed something like 24 seeds and aim to get 8 to 12 mature plants.  There were only a few seeds left so I planted those in a pot so I can plant them elsewhere or use to fill in empty spaces if the ones sown in the ground arent in the right places.  The boys adore corn leaves so the seedlings won’t be wasted!  Also in that bed are the cucumbers climbing up the archway, and some transplanted cos lettuce (Chartwell variety which was very nice last year).  I have about 12 more lettuce looking for spaces to be planted out, currently sitting in a small pot each.  They need watering but lettuce grow well in pots so they should be fine till I can give them more space.  The winter lettuce has done well and is eating nicely now.

Tomatoes and beans are all growing on nicely and the french climbing beans have gone into the ground to climb up the other side of the archway.  They are surrounded by onions and peas, the last of the overwintering carrots, and I’ve sown a few chard seeds nearby.  I didn’t sow an early crop of chard this year and I’m really missing it.  Fortunately  the row that didn’t get going before winter has thrown up a few plants (and a lavender bush!) so I have a few leaves – not enough for a meal though.

The overwintered broad beans (Super Aquadulce) are started to pod up and the February sown (Crimson flowered) are just showing their flower buds.  Next to them the kohl rabi and pak choi are doing splendidly, the latter being both picked and thinned both for my and the guinea pigs’ delight!

I’m just ready to plant the Moneymaker and Black Russian tomatoes in my new permanent growbag on the patio, which I filled with a mix of commercial peat-free compost and my own compost yesterday.  I also have Brandywine, Outdoor Girl and Gardener’s Delight tomato seedlings and a puzzle over where to put them.  The other cucumbers are growing on nicely in their big pots beside the fence, and I have four pepper plants in two varieties waiting to go into big pots for a sunny spot.  Those may well find homes today.

The celery and parsley that I started in modules have gone into the garden in small clumps, as has the red kale.  Some of these are in the veg patches but quite a lot are dotted around in the borders and other flower bed, wherever I could find room really.  The strawberries have taken over most of the borders and have masses of flowers.  I need to net them before the blackbirds steal them all the fruit again.

Waiting in the wings are the runner beans which are getting close to needing to go out (the plan is to grow them up the fence this year), and recently sprouted dragon kale, winter broccoli, celeriac, and some beetroot to replace the seedlings that were scratched up by hungry blackbirds looking for worms.  And the first batch of fennel, started in modules, have just set their first true leaves, so they’ll probably go out in a couple of weeks.

One thing I’m waiting for is the SW bed which has the winter lettuce and some rogue tulips.  The compost on it hasnt been taken into the soil so the whole bed really needs clearing and forking over before planting with chard and beetroot seeds, celeriac, and lettuce.  But I reckon I have about a week or ten days before it really needs tackling, and it could do with a good soaking before then.

Not that any rain is forecast of course.  In addition to the basin for drips and veg washings in the kitchen sink (which gets put in my ‘grey-water’ waterbutt), I’ve started keeping a bucket in the shower to take the first run of water and any splashes off me in the morning.  It saves enough to do most of the daily watering!

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