I have learned a few things this year which I will be taking on board for next year’s gardening activities, and I thought I’d put them in this blog because that way, I’ll be able to find the list! So, here goes:
1. When it comes to planting tomato seeds indoors, don’t do it too early. Early to mid-April will be fine – it’s only people who grow their tomatoes in a greenhouse or conservatory who can get away with doing it earlier.
2. This year, I am really kicking myself for growing the Gardener’s Pearl variety of cherry tomatoes as opposed to Tumbling Tom, as I did last year. Although the Tumbling Tom seeds were humungously expensive, the fruit were DELICIOUS. The Gardener’s Pearls are OK, but bland – better for cooking than eating.
3. Use big containers for courgettes – buckets with a 14 or 15 inch diameter, at least.
4. Two varieties of courgette which seem to be happy with container living and give nice yields are One Ball and Golden Zucchini. I don’t know if the fact that they are both yellow has anything to do with it. Just mulch ’em regularly with home-made compost and water them generously.
5. Boot fairs and charity shops are great places to buy cheap plants if you don’t want to grow everything from seed.
6. Order a bulk lot of compost early on – litre for litre, it works out half the price of the titchy little bags.
7. Planting dried peas in a container (yes, those dried peas you get in supermarkets) gives amazingly good results – a small but steady supply of pea shoots and tiny mange-tout.
8. A top tip from a man I know who lives around the corner and also grows veg: plant nasturtiums near your runner beans. Any blackfly will eat the nasturtiums and leave the beans alone. EDIT: don’t bother with this one – he reckons that the nasturtiums were what encouraged the blackfly in the first place, and has since got rid of them. Result: no more blackfly.
And finally, here is a picture of Lottie standing guard among the elephant garlic:
|The first of the Gardener’s Pearls are ripening, as you can see. They taste OK but nowhere near as good as last year’s Tumbling Toms, which were out of this world. Fine for cooking though. The first Brandywines are appearing, ditto the faithful Gardener’s Delights. Soon be time for home-made tomato sauce, mmmmmm.|
Step 1: use a big enough container. That’s the conclusion I’m coming to anyway, ‘cos so far, we’re doing quite well on the courgette front. OK, so a few of them have succumbed to the dreaded blossom end rot, but the majority are ripening into nice, healthy looking fruit. The buckets I’m growing the Black Beauty and Golden Zucchini in are 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter. Of course, there are other things I’ve done differently this year – like buy young plants from a shop, rather than growing them from seed. So you can’t really call it a scientific study lol. As far as yield goes, the Golden Zucchini is doing much better than the Black Beauty and Golden Ball. I will definitely be doing Golden Zucchini again next year.