I gave up on my early sowing of carrots under cloches and will try again next weekend, I think it has been too cold even with the cloches. I did sow some Autumn King carrots in the bucket though which I have high hopes for this year.
I also sowed some more beetroot, cucumber and some more chilli peppers. I seem to have a slug in the greenhouse since only one chilli pepper and two melon seedlings remain. I also put some early pots in two buckets which I hope will produce some nice salad potatoes.
I pricked out the tomatoes into individual pots and what with all the sowing, the greenhouse is looking quite full now and that is how it should be of course.
The recent warm weather has at last got the plants growing. Both the apple and peach blossom are looking good.
The broad beans are making lots of flowers, but the plants themselves are a bit small so I'm not sure how big the pods will get.
Even my onion sets I planted at the end of March are showing now.
The close up above really shows how stony my soil is, and this is a bucket I collected earlier with help of my kids; still plenty more to go.
Above is a picture of the greenhouse. This was moved last year from the bottom of the garden where it was under trees and did not get enough sun. The tomatoes and cucumbers I tried to grow there never thrived. Furthermore, watering it was not easy although I did set up a drip feed system. It was quite a job to move but I had help from my father. First I had to take out the glass and then lift the frame intact off the old base. The slabs of the old base were used for the new base which I had to extend; my dad helped lay a small brick wall on which the extending slabs could rest. The old base was broken up with a pneumatic drill (hired for the day). Then the greenhouse was reassembled and in the process I managed to break 7 panes. I was expecting that.
The rubble from the old base was used to make a path at the bottom of the garden, Now the greenhouse area is cultivated and raspberries and tayberries are growing there.
In the summer, the greenhouse is watered automatically with a drip system connected to a timer on the outside tap, this also waters my collection of bonsai trees which can dry out very easily on hot days. I set the timer to 15 minutes in the morning at around 5am and another 15 mins at around 7pm. At the moment however, my wife waters the greenhouse by hand, thanks!
In front of the greenhouse is a coldframe which I made from two double glazed window panels that I got from a colleague at work. By the fence is a grey bucket in which some of the carrots will be grown.
The cloches are protecting a row of early carrots and radishes.
I need to tidy the area by the coldframe but some of the pots will be used for the peppers and aubergines.
Below is the greenhouse last year. You should be able to see 5 tomato plants (Gardener's delight) with plenty of flowers on them, 2 blueberry plants and at the back, melons.
I found a dead rat in the pile which did give me a bit of a shock but it wasn't a total surprise . I know the neighbour has been putting rat killer down and a few weeks back I saw Roland (aren't all rats called that?) in the compost bin rather sick looking. I added his body back to the pile to aid the decomposition process; I learned this from Bob Flowerdew (Gardener's Question Time, BBC Radio 4) who recommends adding dead animals (such as roadkill) to the heap as well as peeing on it. I do both now!
I've got 6 compost bins and even that doesn't seem enough. I did collect and fill the bins this January with farmyard manure. My wife's friend is a farmer's wife and they let me have some although I did have to go and bag it and bring it home myself. It didn't smell too bad.
Compost bins at the bottom of the garden. It would be better if they were in full sun to warm them up and promote the rotting but they have to go out of the way under the trees.
Below is a picture of what I call the side bed with south to the right, so it gets plenty of sun. It's full of the maincrop potatoes. The soil is still quite pale so I must add all that lovely compost. This bed used to be a flower bed so the soil is in reasonable condition, but it still is very heavy to work and the hedge, although providing a wind break dries the soil out.
Below is the bottom bed and part of the middle bed to the right. The viewpoint is due south with the base of the Bramley apple tree in the background. Under the enviromesh are the spring greens and behind them are the overwintered broad beans. This soil is very stony and has large clumps of pure clay in it. It's going to take several years to get the soil how it should be so growth on these beds may not be exceptional. Certainly, last year's onions and cabbage could have been bigger, and the soil dries out quickly and becomes concrete. I think I will be making another trip to get that farmyard manure again (and again).
Leeks: last year I sowed these in modules, but they took up a lot of shelf space in the greenhouse, so this time I'm trying two 7" pots with about 50 seeds in them (that'll be a lot of leeks!). The variety is Porvite and I sowed them in early February. They are very slow to grow and are about 4" tall at the moment.
Notice the labels? I use cut up plastic milk bottles.
Sweet peppers, chilli peppers and aubergines: I grow these the same way as the tomatoes. Sown late March/early April. Varieties: pepper - Gourmet; chilli - de Cayenne; aubergine -Florida high bush.
Courgette: last year I grew 4 plants and we had a glut which we made into soups/meals and froze, or we gave some to the neighbours. So it's the same this year! I grow about 5 or 6 seeds in a large pot indoors and then transplant them into their own pots later for the greenhouse and then finally planted outdoors. This year it's a variety called Venus and they were sown a few days ago.
Here's a picture of the onions (foreground) and garlic with the spinach behind them.
Blueberries: 3 pots in ericaceous compost.