Saturday, 28 February 2009

My first casualties

Oh dear, so its happened. I'd always known that there would be some casualties in my new vegetable growing enterprise, either from ignorance or pests and diseases, but ignorance has won out first.

As I have confessed previously, I'm not too sure, but I think that the first seedlings to germinate were my marigolds (tagetes patula) and they looked great!

I was so overcome with excitement at my first seedlings shooting up, that I pricked some out into a module tray.

They seemed to be ok for four or five days, but when I looked at them yesterday, they were uniformly sick looking. The leaves were furling up, the stems had all bent and crabbed and the vibrant green colour had gone!

What have I done? Some quick, if belated, research has revealed that apparently, the optimum moment for pricking out is when the seedling has developed its first 'true' leaves, rather than its 'seed' leaves. Oh. Well, that might be the root cause of the problem (although its also possible that the roots are the problem - they may have been damaged by my amateur manhandling of them from seed-to-module tray....)

Actually, they're not looking quite as bad this morning. I took some remedial action for all of my indoor seedlings yesterday when I mentioned to WH that apparently the reason my seedlings have 'shot' so far is due to lack of light (when they were sown it was a gloriously sunny week, but this last one has been a bit grey). WH suggested I move the youngsters to our back bathroom (which we never use as a bathroom as its downstairs and we've a perfectly serviceable en suite) which is nice and white, as well as being south facing with no obstructions, so the seedlings are getting a lot more light now.

Having just read the back of the seed packet, I may have been ok with my pricking out for the marigolds (assuming that they are marigolds). The growing instructions refer to transplanting the seedlings when they are large enough to handle (which they were) and growing them on in cooler conditions. We don't have the heating on in the back bathroom, so hopefully a combination of more light and less heat will help the little blighters. Watch this space ...

The other seedlings are all looking quite healthy in their seed trays, except for the thyme (?) which looks a little leggy. None appear to have developed 'true' leaves yet, so maybe I'll leave them alone for another week or two.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

There's something about herbs

The herbs that I sowed last week are already peeping their first green shoots above the layer of vermiculite I applied on top of the compost for extra insulation. Unfortunately for me, I have already managed to forget which seeds I planted in which container, so all I know is that one variety has shot up, with some stems bearing four leaves already, whilst some of the others remain very small, their little green leaves rounded still, as they cup the light and air.

As its been so mild this week, and the sun is shining brightly today, I've also just been out to plant my garlic in a long deep container. As with my seeds, I suspect I've planted too many cloves, but I'll thin them out if they all grow! Hopefully, they'll be as successful as my first plantings - fingers crossed!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Come into my garden

I'm planning to grow a relatively modest range of vegetables this year, as we're only in the property for a limited time and don't want to invest too much in the garden. Hence, all of our crops will be in a variety of pots, picked up from our local HomeBase (c. 25 min walk - longer when you're coming back laden down with compost/heavy containers!)

This year I'll be growing:
  • Tomatoes - Legend and Roma, possibly some other varieties as I got some free seeds with Kitchen Garden magazine. I'm also trying some companion planting by growing some marigolds, to try and keep the pests at bay.
  • Garlic - spring planting
  • Dwarf beans - borlotto
  • Spring onions - shimonita and lilia
  • Asparagus peas
  • Courgette - Summer Ball F1 hyrbrid
  • Spinach - Bordeaux F1 hybrid
  • Salad leaves - herby mix
  • Herbs - rosemary, oregano, sweet basil, thyme and parsley
Although this might seem a strange selection, I was trying to pick a wide range of vegetables that would complement the selection we get in our fortnightly organic box.

In terms of equipment, I've a miniature greenhouse where I plan to grow a couple of things from seed under cover once the weather gets warmer and a makeshift shelf set up in our dining room for the first seeds I sowed last weekend - the herbs and marigolds.

Ta da!

My very first post!
I'm planning to post frequently on my adventures in the garden this year, as I experiment with growing a range of food from scratch, to share with my wonderful husband (WH). As I come to realisations and decisions about issues and how I can make greener choices an integral part of how I live my life, I'll also post some of my thoughts and suggestions - you can guarantee that they'll all be user-friendly and rigorously tested.

Just a little bit of relevant background - WH and I are currently living in a rented 2-bedroom mid-terrace Victorian property, within 10 minutes walk of a major train station. We don't own a car (WH hasn't even learned to drive, although I suspect that's an enthusiasm thing, rather than an ethical choice!), so we walk, cycle or use public transport wherever possible. We both have to commute to work by train and our choices for living location are therefore tied very closely to being able to continue to do this easily. We're currently saving for a deposit for our own house, for which we have a number of requirements:
  • within 20 minutes walk or cycle of the mainline train station
  • above the flood plain
  • at least 2 bedrooms
  • at least a 60 ft garden for growing veg and fruit, and, ideally, keeping some chickens
  • opportunity to add value through implementing 'green' technologies, etc, such as solar-heated water, grey water recycling, insulation, etc