Potting on the globe artichokes

We have four young seedlings of globe artichoke Violet de Provence that we sowed a few weeks ago. They are in the usual sort of 3.5 inch plant pots that, for most crops, would serve well for several more weeks. Artichokes, though, are deep rooted. Importantly, they develop a deep taproot, and do so rather quickly. If left in these small pots for long, the taproot may become wound around the pot and they may not then establish well once planted out. Continue reading

Crops in the ground

As much fun as it is to sow seed and dream about the crops to come, there is something special about getting those first crops in the ground; it is the moment when all of that bare soil suddenly starts to look productive. We recently planted out the first rows of peas and the broad bean plants. This weekend we planted out the first lettuces and endive, chard and spinach, and a variety of brassicas. Continue reading

The artichoke chore

The Jerusalem artichoke is almost the perfect crop: easy to grow, requiring little or no maintenance, nor even irrigation under typical conditions; perennial; rarely affected by pests and diseases; producing a fairly good yield for the space; and can be dug as needed from late autumn through to mid spring. Its only drawback is that the flavour, and the effects on digestion, are not to everyone’s taste; if it were not for that, this would be the king of winter vegetables. Continue reading

Earthing up the potato pots

In early February we planted 20 tubers of potato Sharpe’s Express in 15 litre pots half filled with a rich compost mix. They have been a bit varied in their development but some were now ready to be earthed up and the others should follow in a week or two. Earthing up with pot grown specimens is simply a matter of gathering the stems together and filling in the remaining space with more compost. This gives the plants plenty of depth in which to develop. They have been a bit on the slow side thanks to the recent cold weather but now that the temperature has improved the growth rate should increase. We are still hopeful of getting our first tubers by the end of April. Continue reading

Sowing this week

With April just around the corner, it was time to sow some of the tender crops, to be planted outdoors in early to mid May or in the polytunnel or glasshouses as soon as large enough. First were the French beans, Meraviglia di Venezia, a yellow climbing bean, and Beurre de Rocquencourt, also yellow, but a dwarf sort. It is a little early to sow beans for outdoors, but these are destined for the polytunnel, where they should be fine planted out in a few weeks’ time. The dwarf beans should crop first, with the climbing beans to follow. Continue reading

Broken door

Our Haygrove polytunnel has given us several years of good service since we assembled it in 2012 and we have been quite happy with it. However, we had a setback with the door, which developed two broken welds. It is galvanised, so fixing the welds would be a chore. Whilst wondering about the best way to effect a repair I thought I would check with Haygrove whether I could get a replacement. One week later and a new door packaged arrived at no cost. Continue reading

Shallot or not?

Shallots have been cultivated since ancient times, possibly originating in or around Ashkelon, now a city in modern day Israel, for which a former classification as A. ascalonicum was named, as well as the term scallion, which is now applied to several sorts of allium grown for use whilst green and typically with little bulb. Shallots are well regarded for their culinary properties, with a more refined flavour than onions. The question is, though, what constitutes a shallot and how does it differ from an onion? Continue reading

Sowing this week

This week’s main task was planting out some of the broad beans that we sowed a few weeks back. They had developed into robust young plants in perfect condition for moving on. Whilst we planted out the peas in the polytunnel, broad beans do not do so well under cover as they rely on pollinating insects and the pods are often poorly filled. Destined as they were for an outdoor bed, I should have hardened them off for the last week or so. That simply involves getting them acclimatised to the cooler conditions outdoors, where they have been enjoying the protection of the polytunnel. Continue reading

Sowing this week

This week we got our main crop onions, garlic, and shallots planted. Usually, we would have an autumn sown crop running along the side beds of the polytunnel, where they produce well, especially the garlic. As we did little in the garden last year, we are missing out on this crop, but have planted two beds outdoors from spring sown sorts. March is a good time of year to do this and we have been waiting for the last couple of weeks for the weather to turn; the weekend weather was good so we got this task done. It is quite a big job as some three hundred or so sets needed to go in. Continue reading