MAY 2010

29th May.  The last of the Marshalls order arrived (and I have a credit for £9 with them- I’ll use it for seeds, no way am I buying plants from them again) They’ve grown okay (apart from the tomatoes) but they are all so small that I have grave doubts about getting stuff edible by the time winter sets in!  I’m glad I sowed my own squash and courgettes as well, but of course am now a bit overwhelmed for space. However, an hour moving things around in the polytunnel and here’s how things look at the moment:

10 squash in various stages, 20 cabbage, 20 cauliflowers, more spinach than I can count, 3 peppers, 6 tomatoes, 40 broccoli (normal and purple sprouting) 11 courgettes and a goodly selection of salad crops including chinese veg.  In the pots(which I’m still resisting putting outside as it’s not JUNE yet) are french beans, borlotti beans, yin yang beans, mange touts, asparagas peas.  

Outside all crops seem to be coming on well. The potatoes have enjoyed the warmth and rain and earthing them up is impossible, as soon as I do it they burst through – they WANT the sun. 

I’ve transplanted a deal of sunflowers and sweet peas out into the garden as well as a load of nasturtiums (keeping some in polytunnel and raised beds to fend of cabbage whites) 

Slugs haven’t been nearly as much in evidence as last year – maybe the snow killed them all off? Can but hope.

Onions and garlic look not too bad and I’ve put some extra brussel sprouts out behind them in patio pots – not sure how that will work out but since I don’t eat brussel sprouts I’m prepared to experiment.

That’s the month’s update done with.

19th May. Finally got fed up waiting for the rest of the Marshalls order and went out to the garden centre where I picked up 4 BIG tomato plants and 2 big Squash plants. £6 the lot against the nearly £20 for tomato/pepper and squash of which I’ve only had 3 tomato which died instantly, and 3 pepper which after 2 weeks are still too tiny to transplant. If they send the rest of the stuff at that size they’ll never grow duringthe season. Feeling ever more ripped off by Suttons/Marshalls.  I planted out some sprouts, beetroot, leef beet (which was what they called spinach… sorry, NOT the same thing) Some of them had come on a bit but most of them were still pretty tiny. Just hoping that with the good weather they’ll have some chance of survival outside.  Also transplanted some beans outside (and inside) and planted nasturtiums amidst the brassicas. I have some spare brassicas to fill the slots (only one or two) of the seedlings that have been munched or otherwise not flourished.  So the main planting is nearly done – and WATER is now becoming an issue.  Overflow tanks are now nearly empty. I’ll have to go onto priority watering til it rains again and/or the pump kicks in.  

12th May. Yesterday the Suttons plants arrived. 180 of the tiniest plug plants known to man. One word response. PATHETIC. And I think they’d been on the move since 6th May – 5 days in transit!  It took me 2 hours to repot/plant etc and they are all at a size when nornally I wouldn’t even be touching them. But the polytunnel is now full. I’ve planted out the leeks but having to keep fleece over the outdoor plots. And only the biggest of the Marshall’s plants from last month are going out there now. So there’s a lot of sick looking little plug plants which should really be either in bigger pots or in the ground. Hopefully I can transplant them without too much damage in a couple of weeks, but it certainly hasn’t helped with successional sowing and I will ALWAYS grow from seed in future. This was a BAD experiment. I don’t know why I thought it could be easier or cheaper in the long run.

9th May. Planted out the rest of the main crop potatoes – despite hints of sleet tomorrow -things are going to have to be brave and get out there!  Suttons veg plugs still haven’t arrived. don’t know how they can say they’ll be delivered w/c 3rd May and they’re still not here. Once again proof that growing from seed is by far the easier and cheaper option. At least you get to grow things and plant things when you want to instead of spending your time chasing folk up for crappy little plants that don’t even survive.  I’ve got a few more courgettes and 3 squash on the go now in the propagator and a reasonable amount of nasturtium’s which I’m going to plant among the brassicas.   I’ve put down more coffee grounds and some eggshells as there are some chomped leaves on the chinese cabbage and the cauliflower so I suspect slugs.  We are eating salad at least once every day now and the spinach that I planted in september is still going strong – soon I’ll have to terminate it in favour of the new baby spinach. Also, the main event of the weekend was replanting.  Three of the trees in Jake’s orchard didn’t make it so we went out today and got bigger, stronger trees. Dodgy replanting at this time of year but since the seasons can’t make up their minds. We planted 2 x cherry trees which hopefully will blossom right into the middle of the Chinese garden, and a greengage tree (Rumer Godden’s Greengage Summer inspired) Also a hazelnut tree replaced a scots pine in the front of the house which went to bulk up the dog rose hedge.And finally the small but mighty red cedar has now gone into place to ultimately replace the huge pine tree. It wasn’t thriving amongst the dog roses so lets hope now it has a bit more space to express itself it will repay by growing ENORMOUS. Not in my lifetime!

4th May. Yesterday I planted out half of my main crop potatoes and I’ll do the rest next week. I’m taking no chances because the weather is still pretty ropey. Today I noticed the first of the early crop are poking above the earth, so soon I’ll be earthing them up and I’m going to give “scary” Alys’s tip of using grass cuttings to do it.  Seems a lot easier than earthing up, but will it work?   Today I heard from Sutton’s that my bumper veggie pack should be dispatched this week, so hopefully I’ll get them planted out in the next week – weather permitting of course. It’s soon going to be hooching in the polytunnel.  The Marshalls tomatoes are HISTORY. Wrinkled, shrivelled history. The peppers are being cossetted under cloches in the polytunnel, but really….  Temperature went up to nearly 80 today, but still cold at night so down to about 40-50. 

2nd May.   Totally underwhelmed by the Marshalls plug plants! Got 3 peppers today. Nearly as bad as the tomatoes – which after 1 day in the polytunnel have shrivelled up and died. I put them in small pots as instructed but they were tiny little things not even an inch tall and I’m glad I went and bought two cheap 6inch tall plants from Spotty Bag Shop for 90p each!  I’ve taken more care with the peppers, putting them under cloches in the polytunnel and we’ll see if they do any better. But I’m pretty resigned to cutting my losses and buying from local garden centre where I can  get plants of a decent size that I can SEE what I’m buying.  Hopefully the Suttons bumper veg pack will be better.  Though it’s now late in arriving!  I have 3 more tomato and peppers due from Marshalls as well as 6 squash.   The Marshalls brassicas have established well enough in 2 weeks and are about the size of the ones you can buy locally BUT if you look at the price they are much more expensive.  All in all, I’m NOT going to advocate catalogue shopping for vegetable plug plants.   Polytunnel is keeping a minimum temperature of around 50 now and getting up to 70 or 80 if we get a sunny day.  Still too cold and windy to plant stuff outside though, but I hope to do that in the next week or so as well as get the maincrop potatoes in.

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