An actual, genuine crop appears!

I can confirm the beans inside were very small, but tasty!  So pretty impressed by that.

I’ve installed a 100l water butt; however the tap is busted.   As a result I’ve had to rig up a temporary bung for the tap-hole using an old wine cork.  Strangely I seem to have a reasonable number lying around.  You may recall that ever since I bought the hose the rain has been much more prolific.  So I anticipate that actually getting a water butt probably means I should move onto digging out paddy fields.

Asparagus looking much happier with visible means of support

Think the yellowing means a deficiency.  Feeding time!








Today’s tasks have been: sowing brassica’s to fill Brian with more green stuff than I suspect he ever actually ate.  That means sowing purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo de nero, and cauliflower into half seed trays and popping into the plastic greenhouse to get them going as strongly as possible.  And providing support to the asparagus, which wasn’t enjoying the delightful May breezes, alongside siting the water butt.

As for Mick, well, the spuds are looking very perky; so I’ve started to earth up (mound earth round the base of the plant).  They are too tiny at this point to really need it, but it’s supposed to protect the new tubers from the light (which makes them green), and helps with warmth and moisture (moisture trickles into the rows that you make to water the tubers, the steeper sides of the mounds capture the sun’s warmth better).  May just be to make the firtling easier when you come to harvest!

And it’s raining again – hence the blog update….

Starting to rock now …

Broad beans went in last week, and I’ve now (yesterday) tied them up a little better as the droop wasn’t too appealing.  Look strong ( if wonky), and the bees are clearly happy enough to pollinate.

Initial burst of courgettes has suffered a little from front, but most of leaves are fine.  Four more planted, and I’ve now built a wigwam for the runners.  Which, as you can see on the right, have stormed up since the weather turned warmer and moister.

Sweetcorn is now in as well.  Everything in this bed started at home in a small plastic greenhouse as I’m hoping that should give them the best possible start.  Theory that didn’t work with the sweet peas: planted 12, and only 3 seeds have come up.  So I’ve planted them along one of of my bean supports to encourage pollination (well, to add some colour too).

Eagle-eyed viewers will see I’m using the low tech string approach to the runners: train the beans up string tied to a cross- beam. If it’s good enough for Hampton Court, it’s good enough for me.  And if the sweet pea survivalists actually manage to put in any growth, I may experiment with string cordons too.

The eagle-eyed will also spot that the corn / runners are not doing the pucca 3 sisters thing with the beans growing up the sweetcorn.  As the beans are taller than the sweetcorn it didn’t seem practical … Learning for next year, get the sweetcorn off to an earlier start.

Meanwhile Mick is incapable of keeping out of the action, even during Keef’s better solos.  The chitted potatoes are poking through.  Whoop-de-do!

Sir Walter would be very proud

No sign yet of the carrots or parsnips, but I have popped in the beetroot that had germinated.

Next task is to populate Brian with brassicas.  Seed sowing into the plastic greenhouse, and then a fortnight later I hope to be planting out.  And I really must remember not to plant all at one go.  Half trays will be fine, different seeds each end.  Oh, and salad onions; to help protect the carrots when they come up.  It’s all go!

The planting continues apace …

Back to the plot this morning; and I’ve finally moved the broad beans, and courgettes into place.  They look a little floppy at the mo; so I’ve given them a rather good soaking.  Think they will need a little more staking.  Worryingly spotted a number of small holes in the leaves of the beans.  Something to keep an eye on.  

Also planted out 4 courgette plants; mindful that they ‘don’t like being transplanted’, and since two out of each set of 3 seedlings came up successfully, they are nestled together in little pairs.  I can’t be the only gardener who hates culling the smaller, weaker seedlings.

And finally; 4 onions, grown from seed (planted back end of January) at Hadlow.  Refugees from my ‘allium bed’ that has been converted to asparagus.

I’ll need to add some staking for the runner beans, and I’ll pop in a couple of sweet pea seedlings (the only one that actually germinated) to aid pollination.

Hope we get to see some sun soon!

Mick is filling up …

Couple of days of rain and …

Only a short post, but I’ve finally been able to sow carrots (trying Rainbow Mix & Yukon), and parsnips (Albion) into Mick – which is roots, toms & tubers.

I’m leaving the space at one end for beetroot: I have some seedlings hardening off in the back garden.Taking a look at my tomato seedlings; they are still pretty small.  Think that’s because I’ve gone for hardening them off outside already.  Might have been better off leaving them in the mini greenhouse.

I bought a new hose: it’s still raining ….

I have started planting …

Liming complete, along with a hopefully healthy dose of fertiliser to deal with the low potassium / phosphorous diagnosis from the RHS, and finally the bulk bag of top soil spread and raked over each bed.  I’m ready to plant.  And I’ve decided that one bed will be dedicated to asparagus; so the onions will have to make their own way alongside the peas & beans.  Slight re-draft of the planting planogram (plantogram?), but a plan has to adapt!

Charlie therefore has been manured for a second time; and the 2 packs of teeny-tiny asparagus crowns have been planted at the recommended spacing.

This has left me with a chunk of space at the end of Charlie: means I can deploy another lovely piece of horticultural terminology and claim I am catch-cropping (at least I think that’s it).  So salad leaves is the answer to the question of what I should plant in the top (or bottom) quarter of this bed.

This re-think means:

  • Mick is now roots & tubers;
  • Keef is peas, beans, corn & squashes;
  • Brian is brassicas;
  • Charlie is a 3 year commitment to asparagus.;
  • and I have 4 onion seedlings to pop in somewhere.

I also managed to get my first batch of potatoes in; having chitted them (left in the light for the eyes to sprout for a couple of weeks) first.  I’ve selected Nicola variety (I remembered the name from RHS Level 2 as being resistant to something nasty).  This leaves about 2/3 of space in Mick for the beetroot (I have around 6 healthy-looking seedlings pretty ready to go, and the rest will have carrots.

Next planting session should start to populate Keef.  And I need to think about protection from insects / bird-life.  Fortunately the construction or the bed frames should enable me to attach netting pretty easily as I can tack it to the stakes at each end.  Well, that’s the theory at least!

Wednesday arrives – and some rain

Well, it’s raining, drizzling to be frank, and it seems like ages since it’s actually rained.  Given I have 4 beds all neatly dug, which have been drying out for a week or so, I’m thankful.

I’ve managed to get the frameworks in for all four beds this week – Mick & Keef, and Brian & Charlie.  The frameworks were fun: a chance to try out long lost drilling skills ( what is the precise difference between a masonry and a wood drill bit?) and then play with my new toy, a battery powered screwdriver.


Think a woodwork course may be next
Minding out for fingers

My other task for the weekend was to source lime for all the beds, and to order topsoil.  My RHS should survey came back: soil is low in potassium, and pretty acidic with a pH of 5.5.  Not entirely sure if I need to do this if I’m covering the beds with topsoil, but it seems a ‘belt and braces’ approach.  I’ve got at least 1 bulk bag already delivered, and will order more if needed.

I decided I need to name the beds so that I can keep track of the much mooted 4 bed rotation.   The Ramones would have been a better bet – but blogging about the progress that Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny and whats-his-name have made would have given away my poor rock credentials.  So it’s the Stones – easier to remember, and leaves room for some changes after that difficult second album (Brian out perhaps, Ronnie & Bill in).

The plan is Spuds & Toms, Beans & Squashes, Onions / Leeks, and Brassicas.  Even as I type I know my enthusiasm for growing onions / leeks etc in a separate bed is waning.  I want to grow asparagus in a permanent bed.  And I don’t want to dig another bed until I’ve actually harvested something.  So I may use one for asparagus, and see how this year pans out by popping the onions & spring onions in opportunistically.

I’m hoping that this time next year the turf stack will be usable as compost; but I’m not convinced.

Four beds, turf all removed and stacked tidily
Hope that Monty would approve!


Anyway later this week I’ll finally be on the final stage of bed prep, and able to plant something: the asparagus crowns probably.

Onward and upwards!

‘Morning all…

Well, I thought I’d start by explaining a little about this blog.  I’ve started a veg patch.  Frankly I blame Monty Don: which might be a bit too UK specific, so I’d better explain that before I actually get going.

Having stopped work a year ago, I started to garden and garden properly too.  With kit, and training and all that.  So off to the RHS and their Level 2 Course in Horticulture.  Last year was all botany, propagation, pests and diseases, and I now understand the connection between Potato Cyst Eelworm and Ridley’s cat.
This year the Practical: which has meant double digging, creation of a Wildlife Friendly garden, properly understanding how to take cuttings, how to sow seeds in perfect ‘Victoria sponge’ seed compost, and creating wigwams for beans.  Runner beans, broad beans, French beans, all manner of beans.  It’s a blast; and because I’m really going to miss Monday mornings digging in Hadlow my need for some ground to dig up has grown.

Add watching too many episodes of Gardener’s World on the BBC with Monty Don as Head Gardener and his fab loam and perfect pottager, and this means I have become fascinated by growing veg.  One pub conversation too many, and my poor friend is now interrupting her new ‘working from home’ efforts at downshifting and peace and quiet helping my efforts at digging.

So, after quite a lot of digging, I now have four beds, dug out of pristine pasture, each 8 foot by 4.  I’m currently enclosing with timber, and once finished, I’ll top off with topsoil.

Next post: aches, pains and lessons about digging, drilling, and planning the patch.