The other week we wrote about growing kale and tomatoes - if you missed those articles you can find them here:
Now with love, water, sunlight and a lot of nurturing our seeds germinated and before long we had more seedlings than we knew what to do with! Like last year........
So like last year we potted them on, hardened them off and sold them off for 50p each to raise funds for a local charity. We raised almost £100 - so yes, that's 200 seedlings. From a couple of packets of seeds.
Anyway we decided that we'd plant our kale up first. In previous years we've grown Cavolo Nero, Redbor and Curly Green all up at the allotment. We netted it all off so the pigeons wouldn't feast on it and we enjoyed cruciferous veg throughout the autumn and winter.
Last year we didn't protect our plants against the Cabbage Root Fly and everything was covered by small white insects. We learned our lesson! This year however we've run out of space at the allotment so we've planted a couple of seedlings up in large pots and we'll see how they do.
We simply filled a pot with compost, firmed it really well, watered it well, dug the planting hole and added more water - a process called "puddling" - and then popped the plants in.
This year we also added some cabbage collars. Not to make them look smart and formal but to prevent the adult Cabbage Root Fly from laying her eggs at the base of the plants. If we hadn't done that then like last year we would have probably had an infestation of small white flies when the eggs hatched and the baby flies came along.
Here's a couple of photos of our plants.
The collars are biodegradable and will open up as the stem of the plant grows and starts to get thicker. They also keep the soil around the base of the plant warm and moist and help them to grow. We'll report back on how well they work in a few weeks time, but you might want to get your hands on some of these collars and do the same for your plants!
We planted some of our tomatoes out the other week. We're lucky in that we have a partially glazed greenhouse - yes partially as I broke some panes when I bought it and had to dismantle it and then I broke some more when I got it home and put it back together! Notwithstanding it's not yet complete it is in a sunny and sheltered spot so we laid our growbags out and planted some up.
We're growing a number of varieties this year and the Ailsa Craig and Gardeners Delight are in the bags. We use some open bottomed-type pots that increase the depth of the compost and allow easier watering. This is what they look like:
Every year we get asked about pinching out, what it means, when to do it and what needs pinching. Well it all depends on what variety you're growing.
Bush varieties - also called determinate - don't need much looking after and don't really need to have their shoots pinched out.
Cordon varieties - also called vine, upright or indeterminate - so called because they produce a central stem that needs to be supported by a cane or string (note to self - need to get canes in!) - do require pinching out.
This year we're growing Ailsa Craig, Gardeners Delight and Sweet Million - these are all cordon varieties and whilst the Sweet Million won't grow as tall as the others, they'll need some support and will need pinching out. The Tumbling Tom variety is a bush-type and won't.
However for our cordons we started pinching yesterday:
When you read about "removing lateral shoots" this is what you're looking for. The small shoot that appears between the main stem and main shoot - not the main shoot itself as this should - as the plant grows - start to develop flowers that in turn will become tomatoes.
Something we'll do later is give the supporting cane a light shake or tap so that the pollen from the flowers will be dislodged and encourage the fruit to set and the tomatoes to develop. We'll also pinch out any competing leader stems and when the cordon varieties have reached the height we want them - usually after 6 fruit producing trusses have developed - then we'll pinch out the main stem to direct all the energy into fruit production.
And of course keep them well and regularly fed and watered - to help them thrive and to prevent the skins from splitting.
Ok so we didn't mention courgettes in the title but when looking at our tomatoes we noticed that our courgettes need some attention too! They've got powdery mildew appearing on them!
Now that could be due to a number of reasons but it's likely to be down to there being too many plants in such a small space - and that will have prevented air circulation and increased humidity - or the way in which they've been watered.
So they're now outside waiting for me to find the time and get them and their squash cousins - Wee B Little and Festival - up to the allotment where there's a lovely bed of well-rotted horse manure waiting for them. Another job for the weekend!
That's about it for some jobs for this week - although I'm sure there will be more weeding and watering to do!
Let us know how you get on.