|I was reading a magazine the other day and its cookery section extolled the virtue of something called Steve’s Leaves, bags of ready-to-eat loose leaf salad which you can buy on Ocado apparently. I was curious to know exactly what was in the bags so I duly headed to Ocado and found that it consisted of 60 g of pea shoots, baby spinach and baby chard. For £1.35. Given that I’ve been picking the equivalent of this at least every other day for well over a month, I feel quite smug! Pictured right is Lottie and a bowl of baby chard, parsley, oak leaf lettuce, rocket, pea shoots, Welsh onion, baby spring onions, red mustard leaves and chive flowers. BTW, the red mustard is starting to bolt so in future I shall be sowing it half a packet at a time rather than using a whole packet all in one go.|
The other day I finally admitted to myself that using my home-made compost (lovely though it is) and buying the occasional 20 litre bag of compost from the local shops wasn’t really a very satisfactory way of going about things. I have a whole load of plants that are crying out to be potted up, and it’s just not fair on them to make them wait!
You might be thinking “why doesn’t she just hop in the car, go to B&Q and buy compost in bulk like everyone else?” The trouble is, I don’t have a car. Buying compost when you don’t have a car is a nightmare. Plus those 20 litre bags are expensive – about £3.00 a go. So when out shopping one day in Birchington I popped into the hardware store (Brills, which also does seeds and other gardening supplies), and ordered three 70 litre sacks for £10, plus £5 delivery (if you do the maths that works out at less than half the price of the 20 litre bag, litre for litre). The sacks arrived on Monday, and I’ve already used one of them!
|As you can see from the picture, the answer to the question is “yes”, but perhaps a more pertinent question is “Is it actually worth growing globe artichokes in containers?” Given that after three years of gradually potting up this particular specimen (it now lives in a pot that’s 14 inches across), it’s managed to produce ONE artichoke, then I’d have to say the answer is “no”. It does look nice though. And we will be eating the artichoke with due ceremony when it grows to full size. On a more prolific note, we do have some nice strawberries coming along – we should end up harvesting enough to fill a half pound punnet… just not all at once LOL.|
As you can see below, the giant red mustard that I planted in early April is now coming along nicely – it’s already featured in several of my stir fries and mixed salad lunches. As the plants grow bigger, I just keep on thinning them out and when they no longer need thinning, I’ll just treat them as you would any cut & come again salad crop. Next to the giant red mustard is a container full of pea shoots, grown from a handful of Morrison’s dried peas which cost all of about 40p! Tip: if using pea shoots in stir fries, don’t fry them (it makes them go all fibrous and lose their lovely delicate flavour) – just cut them up raw with some spring onions, and sprinkle on top.
…are the varieties of the three courgette seedlings I bought at a local charity shop yesterday – I will be planting them in suitable containers this week, with a mulch of home made compost! I told the man who sold them to me of my singular lack of success when growing container courgettes in the past. “What size container did you use?” he asked. I made a gesture to indicate 12 inches or so. “Ooh no, that’s not big enough”, he said. You need something really big for a courgette. Really big it is then. See if that makes a difference.
Yesterday I potted up four of my Brandywine tomato plants into a trough filled with a 50/50 mixture of home made compost and bog standard container compost, bought from Aldi. I’ve chucked a lot of the other Brandywine seedlings out because they just looked too wind- and/or sun-scorched. Ditto some of the Gardener’s Pearl, although I did pot up seven of those into hanging baskets. They’re all going to have to take their chances in the big outdoors now, anyway.
Next year I shall plant my tomatoes a bit later – say, the middle of April, so that I can transfer them outside asap without having to worry about them being damaged by the elements! This part of England is a bit deceptive; it’s sunny and hot (compared with say, Manchester), but the April winds do blow ‘cos we’re surrounded on three sides by the sea!