Sunday, 22 January 2012

Using beds not rows...

You just get more for your area with beds. That is all...

Sowing 22nd January 2012 - a fruit day

The latest sowing from the Circle 

Anaheim Chillis - all sown

Small Chilli - all sown

Sorrel Belleville - some sown [yes, I know it's a fruit day but I think HSL want some of these so I am sowing for the seed not the leaf hence - sowing on a fruit day]

Albert's Locoto Rocoto Pepper - all sown

Tazmanian Chocolate Dwarf Tomato - all sown. 

Napia Pointy Red Pepper - all sown

Golden Sweet Mange Tout - most sown

And here is how close I sow peas; there are 5 in each small pot; you can see how close they are to each other. Half of these are covered with soil and half aren't. I'll transplant these outside in a block once they are up and running and cover with netting as I really really don't want pea moth in them.

Oh, and the He-Man root stock seedlings are just showing, and the Stamme onions are up and in the greenhouse. And the Babington Leeks, and Egyptian Walking Onions mostly have green shoots. Photos to follow probably on a root day. Hey, plants like to have their photos taken on the right day too, don't they?

How to grow tomatoes

 So, tomatoes. Usually started from seed around the end of Feb/March - potted on and either put into the ground or pots after the last frosts. However, they can be started quite early, put outside in a frost free greenhouse [if you haven't got greenhouse heating, use polystyrene fish boxes for insulation with fleece over the top]. They will grow very very slowly and then romp away once the warmth kicks in. I find that the advantage of this is a slightly earlier crop but a longer finish at the end of the season as they have been subjected to cooler temps at the start so cope with cooler temps at the end. 

So, I started some seeds off a few weeks back, and tipped the little pots out today.
 As you can see, even though the seedlings look a little leggy - they have decent sized roots - these ones today I guess have roots touching the bottom of the pot and are at an ideal stage for repotting.

Repotted by putting a small amount of compost in the bottom of the very small pot....and using the seed leaf only - seedling moved into the pot above the compost. Because I don't know how much compost each will take, and the seedlings are quite leggy - I have not filled the pot with compost and made a hole - but sometimes I do this and drop the seedlings in. 

If the seedling is too long to pot it up to its seed leaves -  I will bend the seedling stem around the inside of the pot as I fill it with soil - the ideal is to get the seed leaves at the top of the pot and the compost up to 1/4 of an inch/5mm of the seed leaves. Roots will grow from the stem so get as much anchorage into those little pots as you can.

And water in by placing into a tray of water and letting the soil soak the water up. 

About 1 in every 100 seedlings will grow 3 cotyledon leaves. It's not that rare, but always a joy to see. 

So, all these will be grown inside my kitchen until I select a few to carry on inside, and the others will go into the greenhouse as soon as the next 2 [the real] leaves have grown.

To increase stem strength - as soon as seedlings appear, blow on them gently to mimic wind movement. The thicker stem also seems to give better cold resistance when they go into the greenhouse.

Keep on the dry side of wet, these probably won't need water now for a week or so; but to determine if they do - don't just water indiscriminately....pick up the pots and if they are very light, soak in water for 30 mins then take them out. If they aren't then don't.

These are part of my Bush Tomato experiment, as mentioned on the Grapevine.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Bean Project 2012 and beyond

So, out of my 133 varieties of beans:
The Maria Zellers - of which I had 2 left, have landed safely in the US of A to be grown on by a fellow Bean Nerd. No offence. If he gets a decent crop in a couple of years, I may get some back but I had a total fail with these and was worried about losing them all.

The Sweet Lupinos, which are edible beans from the Lupin genus in the Fabaceae family; are incredibly hard to germinate and grow in this climate so with my 3 remaining seeds, I am going to try and crack them this year.

I also want to crack the Hopi Yellow, which are from a packet of seeds found at the bottom of a box in the HSL 'too old to share with members' pile. I really really REALLY want to grow these as they look fantastic and I am totally in love with these.

I want to bulk up the ones given to me by my US of A fellow bean nerd; he has been growing beans for a long time it would seem and has stable crosses so the Vermont Appaloosa, Scarlet Beauty, Italian Rose, Blue Jay and Littlefield's Special - all bush beans - will be given pride of place in the plot.

I will be growing Montezuma's Red and Rognon De Loise at home for the Heritage Seed Library in our new 'Heritage Seed Only' garden. And Malawi Red which I also got from a box of 'too old' at HSL

I have a mystery bean which I cannot name where this came from, once it's grown and I know what it actually is, I'll share but until then - I cannot say.

Also, I want to get some beans from the Gigandes - I grew one plant this year and got 4 whole beans from it; so now that I know how it likes things, I will sow those and see if I can bulk them up to maybe 16 or even, 20 if I'm lucky.

I also have some lovely beans from the US of A through the A4A Seed Circle so those will also be grown and bulked up.

I have quite a few non-heritage varieties and I have decided to [shock horror] grow these for the green bean stage and eat them.

Quite a few I think I am down to my last small bag of seeds but this is because I have grown them, bulked them up and now want to get rid and leave others to do so. So I may get rid and drop them completely from the list.

The rest - I'll pick and choose what I want to grow on the day - so stuff like Royal Red, Canadian Wonder, Black Valentine, Black Coco, etc etc - I'll bung 8 in a large pot and just grow them to keep myself in soup for next winter - or the next as I still haven't eaten any of this year's dried beans yet. I am giving a fair few away for people though - so spreading the Dried Bean Love, so to speak.

The Bean Project 2012 and beyond

As of today, the list of 133 beans that I grow is:

A Grand Nero
Annellino Giallo
Baby Red Soup
Black Box Pinto
Black Canterbury
Black Coco
Black Croatian
Black Eyed Pea
Black Turtle
Black Valentine
Blue Coco
Blue Jay
Blue Lake
Bobis d'Albenga
Bonne Bouche
Canadian Wonder
Cardigan [Jersey Rogue]
Cherokee Trail of Tears
Chinese Long
Coco Bianco
Coco Di Paimpol
Corona Di Spagna
Cose Violette
Cranberry Lilac
Dapple Grey
Early Warwick
Emperor of Russia
Ernie's Big Eye
Fagiolo di Spagna
Greasy Grits
Henderson Lima
Hopi Yellow
Horticultural Bird's Egg
Hutterite Soup
Ice Crystal Wax
Inca Pea Bean
Italian Rose
Jacob's Cattle
Kentucy Wonder
Kew Blue
Kinghorn Wax
Lazy Housewife Brown
Lazy Housewife White
Littlefield's Special
Madeira Maroon
Major Cook's Bean
Malawi Red
Maria Zeller [last 2 seeds sent to a grower in USA - may return one day]
Marvel Di Piemonts
Minidor Yellow
Monastic Coco
Montezuma's Red
Mountaineer's Haf White Runner
Mr Fearn's Purple Flowered
Neckar Queen
Necktar Konigin
Norweigan Dry
Nun's Belly Button
Oregon Giant
Pea Bean
Purple King
Red Calypso
Red Soup
Redlands Greenleaf
Rio Zappe
Rognon De L'oise
Roqueen Court
Rose D'Eyragues
Royal Red
Ruth Bible
Ruud's mystery
Scarlet Beauty
Speckle Chucky
Star 200
Swedish One Dot
Sweet Australian Purple
Sweet Lupino
Tar Heel
The Prince
Tiger/Tiger eye
Top Crop
Triomph De Farcy
Vermont Appaloosa
Wild Pigeon
Wild Pigeon Rogue
Xenia Field
Yin Yang

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sowing 7th Jan 2012 - a root day

 I only have packets to show; as pics of little plant pots with soil in them are, well, pretty boring until the seedlings are actually showing, aren't they.

So, today I have sown the Stamme Onion seeds, and [no - don't start writing letters of complaint in] the Tomato Rootstock He-Man seeds. These are for grafting tomatoes onto; later in the season and - as I summated that it's the ROOTs that need to be strong here, I have sown them on a ROOT day and not a Fruit day. It's confuddling my mind though as I've been to the seed box 3 times now, to pick out other tomatoes to sow - even though I know in my head, it's a ROOT DAY. I just can't help it - I sow tomatoes and want to sow more.

Anyway - here's some pics of the packets, just to show I've sown them!

A now empty Stamme Onion seed packet

A half empty He-Man Tomato Rootstock packet; will sow the others in a few weeks. 


 So, I was driving home last night, up the M1 - and in the distance I saw what Tim Wheeler would call a 'Shining light' - it was just shimmering and I had to get the phone out and take a photo. One of those times when you wish you had your proper camera with you....

As I drove on, it seemed to start extending on the right hand side, and lo and behold; it merged itself into what can only be described as a 'Sun-Bow'. There was no rain - anywhere - it was just 'formed' and reflected off the clouds...

I have never seen a 'sun-bow' before - and potentially never will again. Quite fascinating. As soon as it was there, it was gone.