Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Salvias and tomato cuttings

It's muggy out. 
Today the greenhouse, which for so long has been a place of refuge and shelter, has at last begun to become unbearable to work in in anything more than flip-flops and a vest-top. 

There are a million tiny spiders everywhere. Strung like tiny tawny pearls, usually in the most inconvient places. Mouth height across the doorway.  Judging by the numbers of plump little bodies scrambling around every time my shadow looms, they clearly don't object to the humidity. Just as my sundew plant remains pretty pleased to see them every time they fancy a stroll.

'One advantage,...' I told my self as I unstuck another plastic plant label from behind my knee, 'is it's possibly that much better for the cuttings.' 

The latest fistful of twiggy hopefulls are gleaned from my tomatos, an odd assortment of  zesty greens, yellow pears and blushing tiger stripes. Growing them as cordons means that any springs which do not fall into the categories of either flowers or furthest up the stem (as the leader is) gets nipped out. The lucky ones who managed to evade me the longest get either dunked in a jam jar or potted up into moist buffered coconut coir (soil would be just as fine). In either case, roots will start to grow within three weeks and the plants will be romping away, ready to be traded for their redder brethren (may have forgotten to grow some 'normal' toms) or to brave it outside.

As well as potting up tomato cuttings, this morning was well spent planting up one of the last remaining borders of a project that I'm helping out (a little) for landscape architect extraordinaire, Pip Morrison. 

This is salvia 'Amistad' a gorgeous plant with stunning rich greens and purples that works brilliantly with the yellow roses we left behind after the great alstromeria extraction of last summer.
Let's hope the cuttings take. ;) 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Some things to sow..... now!!

Ahh. Spring has sprung.

Not only is the sun shining more often and the temperatures gently ambling ever closer to bared-midriff (fishbelly) level but we're a whole three weeks early.
There exists an old French saying, pertaining to sowing times and soil temperatures and bare bottoms being the instrument used to judge, but an elbow will suffice. With the balmy April weather we've been having, it's fairly safe to start sowing some of your favorite veg.

Here are a few things to get you started:

Asparagus Crowns - enjoy around June/July 3 years from planting. Resist scrumping too early, as you can really knock the plants back.

Aubergines - ready to pick in August. Best grown under cover.

Broad beans - should be plump and pickable around June/July, though I like them as fingerling baby pods.

Carrots - from June to September, depending on variety and size you'd like. I like to sow coriander amongst the rows to help hide them from carrot fly.

Celeriac - Lovely and slow, this delicious veggie is about ready in October.

Climbing beans - I little early I think, but you can always chance it and sow some more later. Ready June/July.

Cucumbers and Gherkins - lovely fresh and pickled! Ready around July/August.

Kohl Rabi - Such a great looking plant, in an odd way. Pick from May onwards.

Leeks - Ready from September to April depending on which sort you choose.

Peas - I've tried some purple podded peas this year. Pick from June onwards.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli - Actually, I prefer to sow this in May. The plants still produce lots of spears around January/April next year but are a little shorter, and much less prone to toppling.

Radish - Lovely, peppery little crunch-bombs. June/July.

Spring Onions - So good in broths and chopped into salads, ready around June/July.

Sweet Corn - Beware! Mice LOVE sweet corn seedlings and any vestage of warm fuzzy feelings you harbour towards the little mites will be snipped as neatly as all the rows of seedlings if they get to them. Those that make it will produce ears around July/September time.

Summer Squash - Not as commonly loved in the UK as in the States, but crookneck squash (scroll down a bit, till you get to the yellow knobbily ones) are delicious, slighlty crunchier than courgettes. June/August.

Sweet Potatoes - Ew. Sorry, but you try being forced to eat them as a child. Smushed, with melted marshmellows on top. Anyway, I've been asked about them often enough so if you'd like to grow the little horrors now is the time to get them going to harvest in July/September.

Tomatoes - Now thats more like it! Sow a wild mix of bannana legs, emerald cherry, yellow pear, black seaman, cream sausage, and ghost cherry for a delicious rainbow of tomatoey-goodness.