Last year was a mixed bag veg-wise.  Runner beans, spuds and onions were cropping winners, the rest, meh.  I’m hoping to do better this year.

I have three raised beds available for veg, each 4’x8′ and about a foot high. Each bed is divided into 2′ squares.  Sort of a middle-ground between square foot and square metre gardening.  I generally do one variety per square and cram them in.  As they are raised beds the veg get a good root run and don’t seem to mind being closer than the recommended planting distance.  I have started the process of topping them up with compost, spent mushroom compost this year.  I’ve done one and a bit beds. I’m hoping this will give things a boost. It certainly smells like it should…

Make room for the mushrooms.  Bed 1 topped up.  Except for the carrots in the corner.

In a last ditch attempt to grow proper carrots, at the weekend I excavated one 2′ square completely to its full depth and sieved the soil back in.  A bucket and a half of stones came out of that one square, 4 cubic ft of soil.  I added some multipurpose compost to top it up.  The carrots can have no excuse, I am expecting a good crop, fingers crossed.  No ‘shroom compost for this square, too rich for carrots.

Here is the state of play on the veg plot.

Not yet sown

Swede, Runner beans, Radishes. I’ll sow these direct into the ground in early May when likelihood of further frost is very small.

Sown at the weekend, germinating, I hope.

Turnips.  Sown into modules, a few-ish seeds per module.  I might thin them out bit, but will plant as little modular clumps.  I gather they do well like this, the roots will push eachother aside.  Smaller roots, apparently, but tasty and more yield per sq foot.  We shall see.  We’ll ignore the fact that no-one in the house really likes turnips….
Spring onions, I’ve sown oodles of them in one 9cm pot.  When they grow to a manageable size I’ll separate them and plant them all out in one square, close together.  Might not take a whole square in which case I’ll squeeze something else in, lettuce or rocket.  Both these and the turnips are in the heated bench.
Snap peas. I grew normal pod peas last year, what a pain in the bum. Never again. I’m hoping for a less tedious and heavier crop this year from the snap peas.  They are on staging in the greenhouse.

Pricked out/growing in modules.

These are all on staging in the greenhouse.  It’s still too soon to plant out, frost would finish them all off.

Tomatoes ‘Bajaja’, ‘Ailsa Craig’ & ‘Sweet Million’.  The bajaja were sown about a month before the others so they look like good little plants already whereas the others are still in seedling territory.  Sweet million on the left, bajaja on the right.

Chilli peppers ‘Razzmatazz’ & ‘Prairie Fire’.   These are growing away pretty well, not quite ready to pot on yet.

Borlotti beans.  Growing nicely, germinated in about 5 minutes flat it seemed.  I’m a bit worried they’ll get too leggy in the greenhouse but want to wait till last frost-date before planting out. As an experiment, I’m going to try to keep these to one square, growing up a wig-wam of 8ft canes.  In the past I’d have used up 2 squares for an a-frame arrangement, same as for the broadies.

Full of (borlotti) beans

Carrots ‘Jeanette’.  Doing OK in modules, again, will plant out mid-may into their lovingly (grudgingly) prepared feather bed.

Carrots – looking lively

Leeks ‘Musselburgh’. Two batches, first sown in modules, one per module, second batch sown in a pot and pricked out the other day, a few to a pot. I’ll plant the first batch old-skool, plonked in a dibbed hole and watered in, the second batch I’ll plant in their groups and we’ll see which works best.  Ooh, a Trial!

Courgette – sowed just 5 seeds, all 5 germinated. I offloaded one so have 4 left.  This is probably 2 more than I need as they are heavy croppers.  I’ll plant them out in a couple of weeks. I will try to train them vertically so they don’t take over the plot.

Courgettes.  Thugs.  Need keeping in line.

Parsnips.  I sowed these early and transplanted to modules. They were in the heated bench for a while, and are now on a shelf getting some good light.  They really need planting out. Lesson for next year, no need to go off half-cocked on sowing, it just creates a greenhouse space problem. I’ll see what the two week forecast is at the end of April, might take my chances.  I’ll start hardening them off now.

Parsnips.  Going good but outstaying their welcome.

In sacks (Potatoes)

Earlies, struggling to keep up with the earthing up, they’re growing fast.
Mains, planted them in sacks a week or so ago.  Both spud varieties are cluttering up the greenhouse for now.  I’ll move them out at the end of this week once the predicted cold snap is over.

Earlies at the top, mains at the bottom.  Just sacks of muck, really.

In the ground

Overwintered cabbage.  Was looking pretty ravaged by something insectoid, or possibly pigeons, but now they have recovered some poise.  I don’t know whether they’ll form heads like wot a cabbage should, we’ll see.

Cabbages.  Sort of.  We’ll see.

Overwintered onions.  Some from sets, doing well. I put them straight in the ground in November I think. I also have some which were either grown from seed, or from seedlings bought in the garden centre, can’t remember.  These look a bit weedy in comparison. Sets on the left.

Overwintered broad beans.  Just 3 plants survived the experience, shan’t be doing that again.

Overwintered carrots, can’t recall the variety, they are ball-shaped ones, I wasn’t keeping good records back then. I have two squares of this on the go, they seem to be doing OK.  Me and carrots don’t get on.

Spring planted broadies.  I took the plunge and planted out 15 plants at the weekend.  I’ve been hardening them off for the last week or so and they’re fairly hardy so hoping they’ll manage the little nip of frost we may get this week.  I mixed them in with the surviving overwintered ones.

Broadly speaking, they’ll be fine.


Rhubarb.  Bought as a crown 18 months or so ago, so this is the first year we are harvesting stems.  I gave it a good mulch of the spent mushroom compost at the weekend, I hope it appreciates it.  We haven’t cut any stems yet, we probably should.


Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

So, that’s it from veg central.  Feels like a lot going on.  How will I cope if I ever get an allotment?

I’ll be back with another veg update in a couple of weeks, by which time I should have sown the last few veg and planted most things out.  We’ll see.