Harvesting, sowing, tending

So Monday was a sad day, last hands-on session of my RHS Practical course at Hadlow.  It’s been really inspirational, well worth the hands on experience of pruning, propagating, sowing, digging, and the conversations with such a diverse group of gardeners.    We have 2 trips out to consolidate the learning, and chat about gardens, but then I have to decide wether I can cope with the Level 3 Practical while also doing the L2 Planning and Maintenance course.  This is the veg plot we planted tended over the past year

Lovely, isn’t it!  

So, on the allotment this week I have finally harvested the broad beans, prodded, blanched, and frozen my crop.  Fantising about broad bean and chorizo salad as the best use over the summer.  BBQ anyone?  Chopped down the tops and popping into the compost bin, and left the roots to do their thing with the nitrogen.  At the other end from the broad beans the courgettes are beginning to swell, and the sweetcorn is thrusting through their prickly leaves.  Lost one of the onions.  The runner beans have been playing host to black aphids, so sprayed with soapy water.  I have also planted dwarf French beans in the gaps.  

Courgettes swelling, sweetcorn doing its thing

In other news, I’m still baffled by the parsnip seedlings.  Partly because by sowing in threes I have little groups of coriander-like leaves, rather than a neat row.   However, I’ve also sown some at home in the mini greenhouse in toilet roll inners which should be easier to spot once planted out.  Carrots are as carrots are, easier to spot so I’m anticipating the carrot white fly to make an appearance any day now!  And you can see how the beetroot is finally swelling next door.  Looking forward to roasting these, black pepper, rosemary, goats cheese sprinkled on top …

Brassicas are coming up, so I’ve sown a further set (purple sprouting, kale, cavalo-de-Nero, cauliflower romescue) are now propagating in the mini greenhouse, the lettuce (Little Gem) and rocket are coming up, and the potatoes are making flowers.  Soon I’ll need to get my first firtling fingers ready …

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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!