The 2018 growing season is swinging into gear! All the planning is now becoming a reality in the greenhouse and out on the plot. I have a smallish space available for growing food, just three raised beds, each 8’x4′. I spent a lot of time over the winter planning what I would grow with the aim of squeezing the maximum possible yield out of the plot. This is the layout for the first part of the growing season, taking us to mid-summer or thereabouts.
So, what’s going on?
I have been busy in the sowing department since the February plot update.
Beetroot ‘Boltardy’. I’ve sown in modules, 3 or 4 seeds per module. They germinated fairly fast and are doing ok in luxury accommodation in the heated bench. I’ll move them on to cooler unheated accommodation in the greenhouse and then on to the cold frame. I aim to plant them out on the plot at the end of the month, or early April. I’m aiming for 4 or 5 seedlings per module, I will thin out to that number if they are more crowded than that. I will plant out as a clump, leaving a bit more space. This is the approach recommended by Charles Dowding.
Rocket. An over-enthusiastic early sowing which are a bit straggly and leggy. I might compost these and go again.
Peas ‘Blauschokker’. Sown about 10 days ago, no sign of germination so far.
Leeks ‘musselburgh’. I’m doing two lots of leeks this year, an early and a maincrop. This is the early batch that I am intending to harvest in the summer as baby leeks. They are just about germinating now, having been sown a couple of weeks ago.
Onions, two varieties ‘Bedfordshire Champion’ and ‘Red Brunswick’. I sowed more than I need, so the fact that germination has been a bit patchy is less of a concern than it might have been. These will go out on the plot in clumps like the beetroot. I’ll be able to harvest spring onions from each clump, allowing the rest to grow to medium size onions.
Carrots, three varieties ‘Early Nantes 2’, ‘Early Nantes 5’ and ‘Firewedge’. These were sown direct on the plot to avoid root disturbance. It’s still quite cool out but I have had cloches covering the ground for a few weeks now which should have raised the soil temperature a few degrees. I have sown seeds in half of the alloted squares. I’ll do half of the remainder in 2 or 3 weeks, then the rest a few weeks after that. This should mean I get a nice crop of carrots over a period of a couple of months. Or that’s what it should mean. In practice, carrots have always been rubbish for me, so my confidence is low. We shall see. I sowed 3 or 4 seeds in each location, 16 locations per square foot. I’ll thin them out to 1 carrot per location once they’re up.
Spring onions, two varieties ‘Apache’ and ‘White lisbon’. These went in the gaps between the carrot seeds. There are two reasons for this: firstly to get more crop from the space, but also because carrot fly allegedly don’t like onions. The spring onions grow more quickly than the carrots so will be harvested and out of the way before the carrots grow to fill the space.
Radish ‘Celesta’. In a couple of the carrot squares I sowed radishes in the gaps instead of spring onions. Same principle, they are fast growing.
Potatoes ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Lady Crystl’. My earlies and second earlies, these have been chitting on a sunny window sill for the last month or so. They are taking their time, the shoots are all still small. I want to plant these by the end of the month so they had better get a move on. Lazy chits!
Broad beans, three varieties ‘Crimson flowered’, ‘Red epicure’ and ‘De monica’. These were just beginning to germinate last month, but are now growing on nicely. They were on an unheated shelf in the greenhouse which saw lows of -5 deg c during the Beast from the East a week or two back. I was worried about them, and they did look a bit sad for a day or two. They perked up though, and are now in the cold-frame, limbering up for a transfer to the plot, possibly this coming weekend.
Tomatoes & Chillies. I will be following these more closely in separate posts, but in summary, the tomatoes are doing OK, I potted on a batch at the weekend. The chillies are coming on, but very slowly. Next year I think I will rig up some insulation and lighting to encourage faster growth.
Planted out on the plot:
Onion sets ‘Electric’. These have been overwintering in modules in the greenhouse then the cold-frame for the last couple of weeks. For some reason the modules were not free-draining so they were getting a bit soggy. Still, they all have decent top growth and a good set of roots. I hope they will grow on OK. I have planted 9 per squre foot, 34 onions in total as I didn’t quite have enough – I’ve sown more spring onions into the spare spots.
Garlic. Several varieties. All except the elephant garlic seem to be growing on well. No sign of the pachydermic ones, I think they must have rotted off in the ground, or been disinterred by the local squirrels.
Rhubarb. I just have one crown, this is its 3rd year in the ground I think. Last month it was just poking through, but now it is showing signs of more serious growth.
Cabbage ‘Rodeo’. Last month there were 10 or 12 of these growing in a congested corner of Bed 3. I have removed all but 4 plants, hoping that a bit of extra space will encourage more enthusiastic growth. I still might jettison these in favour of the leeks and beetroot I have planned for this spot.
Sweet peas, several varieties. These have been in the cold frame for the last month or so. They are looking a little bit bedraggled, far from the neatly vertical seedlings they were when I first moved them. Still, there are lots of branching stems, so I am hopeful of a good crop of flowers. I will plant them out at the end of this month. Apart from anything else, I need the cold frame space!
As you can see, things are getting busy! How are your GYO plans coming along?
I’ll be back next month with another plot update.