Growing Vegetables Week 5

Welcome to Growing Vegetables Week 5 with Bob and Sammie. This past week has been very exciting as we have taken on a new experiment, more on that later and we are also starting to harvest courgettes! Enjoy reading about our adventures in the garden.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 5 Glossy Green Courgettes.

It was such a thrill to capture the shot of the bee happily pollinating our courgettes. Bee’s and other pollinators are vital to the success of our vegetable growing adventure. Without them the Gartenpearle  tomatoes you see below, sown from Groseeds seed, would not be forming, in fact none of our vegetable flowers would produce fruit.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 5 Gartenpearle tomatoes forming.

It is true, some vegetables are wind pollinated. Sweetcorn is the first one that springs to mind. They are grown in blocks so that as the wind blows, it blows the pollen from one plant to another. We are hoping to grow sweetcorn next year.

I love seeing the bees, butterflies and hover flies, not forgetting moths our nighttime friendly pollinators. Bob and I were also really pleased to spot a couple of frogs, hiding in the damper parts, behind the plants, as we were gardening this week. We have not had a problem with slugs or snails for a while now, so all the new plants we potted up this week have not had any slug pellets on them.

Any slug pellets that were used earlier in the season were at a height where the frogs could not get them. Whilst trying to grow as organically as we can, our garden was full of snails, hiding in and under containers. We manually dispatched as many of them as we could, however, all of our efforts to grow our our vegetables would have been in vain, had we not used slug pellets on the first seedlings. Now we have fewer snails and are happy for frogs and hedgehogs to munch on them.

Yes we have some snail damage on our plants, but we can live with that!

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 5 Baby runner beans starting to form.

After initial concerns that our runner beans weren’t setting – due to the hot weather – I was pleased to see these two baby ones this morning. Painted Lady, the variety we are growing, have always been reliable in both containers and the ground. A good straight bean that isn’t stringy! I definitely recommend them. We will be sowing a second lot, straight into the pot for runner beans into Autumn.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 5 the Chilli and Borage plants have settled in well.

Chilli, borage, basil which is flowering, all in the front garden and settled. Lots of bees were buzzing around as I took the above photo.

A quick update on jobs carried out this week before I tell you about our exciting experiment:

  • Lettuce/Wild Rocket/Radishes that had bolted and run to seed – tubs emptied on to the compost heap. We are hoping to sow more over this weekend.
  • Picking courgettes as soon as they are 3 inches long. This helps increase the yield from each plant and stops enormous marrow-like monsters that are tasteless and reduce yield. Also whilst checking over the courgettes we remove fallen flowers and yellowing leaves – this prevents mould from forming and spreading.
  • Picking ripe long beans, our variety is Purple Queen and they are going to be eaten with dinner tonight!
  • Daily watering – we have had very little rain since before the heatwave. The Chilli’s in the front garden are watered twice a day now and that should be reduced to only once as the weather dictates.
  • General clearing, light pruning of Spring flowering shrubs and dead heading roses.
  • Tomato feeding – now the Gartenpearle tomatoes are setting a light feed is given once a week – we are also giving a weekly feed to the courgettes and will feed the Chilli’s in the front garden when they start flowering.

An Exciting New Project With Greenhouse Sensation.

Yes, I know we don’t have a greenhouse, but the Quadgrow that was sent to us by Greenhouse Sensation can also be used outside. It holds four plants in large containers that are sat on top of a reservoir.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 5 the Quadgrow fully planted and photo bombed by our dog!

At the outset we decided to make our Quadgrow planting an experiment. Four equally sized Roma Tomatoes and again four equally sized Orange Habonero Chilli Plants were selected. These had all been grown from the same packets of seeds from Groseeds.

Two of each plant have been planted in the Quadgrow and 2 of each plant have been planted in deep polystyrene containers, using compost, water retaining granules and a scoop of slow release fertiliser.

We will compare the yield from each plant and it is going to be so much fun seeing if there is a difference – a couple of things to note – we are late planting, this will affect yield and we are not growing a control, two of each plant in the ground with regular watering.

The Quadgrow system is so easy to set up. It is lightweight but very sturdy. Each planter has absorbent cloth that is thoroughly wetted, inserted through the bottom and is pulled up until it is level with the top of the planter. This same absorbent cloth then is pushed through a hole, where it sits on the Quadgrow reservoir. The idea being that it draws water and nutrients from the reservoir into the planter, as they are needed. The cloth then moistens the surrounding compost and the plant is feed and watered automatically, eliminating the need for regular watering.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
The Quadgrow set up incredibly easy.

This Quadgrow system, from what I understand about gardening, should stop the compost becoming compacted from frequent surface watering, allowing the roots to grow deeply in an airy, yet moist environment. Deep roots will ensure the plant is stable and water/nutrient uptake is maximised, promoting great plant health and healthy plants produce a greater yield.

After setting up the Quadgrow it is watered with a can so the compost is moist and then left for a few days until the top feels dry. We will cover the reservoir and feeding in next week’s post.

Next two chilli’s and two tomato plants were planted in deep polystyrene containers. The Roma tomatoes were staked and tied in and both containers were given a good soaking just as it started to rain! Not much but every drop is welcome.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 5 Planting in polystyrene boxes.

Bob is loving the experimental aspect to our growing venture. It is teaching him more science than he realises. I’ve always found I learn far more by watching and doing, than simply sitting and listening. Perhaps that’s why day release suited me, I was learning the science one day a week, behind what I was practically doing for the other 4-5 days.

Finally……

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
A gorgeous bright orange Canna Lily blending with my hanging basket.

This beautiful, purple leaved Canna Lily has the most stunning blooms. Our hanging basket was planted to coordinate with it.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 5 yes I have snuck a few tomato plants in this bed too!

I had the opportunity to buy some Black Cherry Tomato ‘blight resistant’ plug plants, so knowing that blight is a big possibility, I took a chance and planted them in between the Canna Lilies and Verbena Bonariensis. The later has purple frothy flowers that contrast beautifully against the Canna Lilies and butterflies and bees absolutely love it.

I see no reason why vegetables, herbs and flowers shouldn’t happily be grown alongside each other. Our front garden is south facing and gets very, very windy. The Canna Lilies provide initial protection for the tomato plants, as they get their roots deep into the soil and start growing. The Verbena Bonariensis attracts pollinators, yet to me the bed is also about beauty. Deep, dark, cherry tomatoes, the colour of the Canna leaves, will only enhance the beauty of this bed.

Beautiful and productive. These are not mutually exclusive in our garden.

If you have enjoyed reading Growing Vegetables Week 5 you may also like these posts:

Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4

Growing Vegetables Week 2

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 2

Growing Vegetables Week 1

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 1

I hope our efforts have shown you the fun side to gardening? Finding frogs, becoming more aware of the bees, butterflies and wildlife that can be found in an ordinary back garden. Listening to the birds and finding old nests, more on that next week.

Even if you only have a small area, or a windowsill herbs can be grown. I have Basil in our front garden, yet I still have a couple of pots on the small, kitchen windowsill as I use them so frequently in cooking and salads.

Wherever you are, whether you have a garden or not, it is good to get outside and look for wildlife. It is closer than you may think.

Until next week happy gardening.

Bob and Sammie xx

Groseeds provided the majority of the seeds for our gardening project, however, this is not a sponsored post. Greenhouse Sensation kindly sent us the Quadgrow to try out. All opinions, views, content and photographs are my own (Sammie). I do not get paid for writing or reviewing products, please see my Disclosure Policy.

Any advice given is from Sammie, an amateur gardener and should be taken as such, at your own risk.

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Growing Vegetables Week 2

Welcome to the second week of Bob and Sammie’s gardening adventures. Following a nasty ice skating accident a week and a half ago, Bob is now fully recovered with just a small scar on his chin. Gardening is definitely a lot safer and in Growing Vegetables Week 2, we will share our latest news.

Growing Vegetables Week 2
Growing Vegetables Week 2 lavender great at attracting pollinators and for use in baking.

Despite warm, dry and sometimes humid conditions we have had very little rain in our corner of Kent. In fact today, just as last Saturday it is very windy outside. This means that all of our container grown plants ideally need watering twice a day.

Windy weather can be far more drying on all plants, especially those grown in containers. Our Runner Beans (Painted Lady – I think!) are growing a good 10cm/4″ a day! So they need regular watering. We did add some water retaining granules to the container before planting, which should prevent any periods of drought.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 2
Growing Vegetables Week 2 a teaspoon of water retaining granules really helps the moisture level of the compost.

Here are the beans we potted up last week. The small scoop (about 1tsp) of water retaining granules and a few, slow release fertiliser balls were added to the compost. They were then thoroughly mixed in before the beans were planted.

Keeping container plants adequately watered is especially important for tomatoes. Uneven waterering and periods of drought can cause Blossom End Rot. Which is exactly how it sounds. The blossom end of the tomato fruit goes very dry and can start to rot. So to ensure that doesn’t happen we added water retaining granules to all of our tomato containers.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 2
Growing Vegetables Week 2 Gartenpearle Tomatoes

Ah the wind whipped tomatoes that we carefully potted up and staked last weekend are, in fact, Gartenpearle Tomatoes, grown from Groseeds seed! These are a bush variety that have cherry tomatoes tumbling over the container. In our defence it was incredibly windy when we planted them and I’m not sure they’d have survived without staking. Indeed I thought we were going to lose them for the first few days as they looked very sorry for themselves. This photo has just been taken and they seem to have come through the transplanting without any damage!

FF Growing Vegetables Week 2
Growing Vegetables Week 2 Borage and Lavender.

Due to the open, sunny, but exposed windy site of our front garden, I have delayed planting out the chilli’s. Seeing how the wind affected the tomatoes in the back garden last weekend, I have decided to wait for a quieter day, weather wise. That way they’ll stand more chance of growing on well and getting their roots deep into the soil.

The Borage planted at the back of the bed, to attract pollinators, has settled in nicely along with a couple of new lavender plants, grown from cuttings taken last year. We hope to be able to plant the chilli’s and the rest of the tomatoes in the next couple of days, because…….

FF Growing Vegetables Week 2
Growing Vegetables Week 2 Roma Tomatoes and chilli plants.

……they are starting to take over our porch!!!!

We are aware that we are just a wee bit behind on our planting, due to late sowing, however, when you have lovingly nurtured a plant from seed, potted it on, you want it to have the best possible chance it can. So these babies are staying put for a little while longer.

As part of our rather late and haphazard sowing, not everything got labelled. I only found out about the Gartenpearle Tomatoes as I rinsed out the pot and saw that I had indeed labelled it. Which means those in our porch are cordon Roma Tomatoes. Delicious small plum shaped tomatoes that we’ve had success with before.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 2
Growing Vegetables Week 2 means keeping up with our runner beans and a cheeky photo bomb by our Golden Retriever Rosebud!

To create a bamboo wigwam for the beans to climb up, insert 6 bamboo canes, thick end down, into a filled container, spaced evenly apart. I have used 2m canes as I’m 6ft and with stretched arms I’d struggle to pick higher than that! Taking care not to catch your eyes, draw all the canes together, 10cm/4″ from the top and tie them securely with string. I was able to reuse the raffia that came with the canes.

You may need to encourage the beans to spread out and climb the canes. This can be achieved by gently tying the beans to a cane. They’ll soon romp away! When the runner beans reach the top of the canes simply pinch out the tops. This will encourage side shoots to form, with more flowers, so more beans!

FF Growing Vegetables Week 2
Growing Vegetables Week 2 Redcurrant jewels.

As well as enjoying rocket (arugula) and radishes in our salads this week, a quick inspection of the fruit garden revealed a good crop of redcurrants. Now currants always surprise me. Their ‘flowers’ are very plain and to be honest do not look like flowers. Yet I see bees pollinating them in mid Spring, no encouragement needed, especially considering the plants we have grown to attract pollinators in other areas of the garden! Yet the bees seem to know and we usually get a good harvest.

Bob was going to pick these today, for me to make jam. I instead decided it would be a good idea to start summer pruning the apple trees, we have two. So they will stay fresher on the bush and jam making will commence early next week.

If you have enjoyed Growing Vegetables Week 2 here are some other posts you may enjoy:

Growing Vegetables Week 1

FF Growing Vegetables Week 1
Growing Vegetables Week 1 Bob and Sammie’s journey starts.

Wilko Gardening Product Review

FF Growing Vegetables Week 2
The courgette plants are growing strongly, shouldn’t be long before they flower.

 

We are making progress. Not everything we wanted done has been finished, but that is gardening for you. As they say, even with all of the gardening jobs still to do, it’s important to take time to stop and smell the roses. Until next week, when hopefully our Freckles salad leaves will have germinated, happy gardening.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 2
Growing Vegetables Week 2 Dorothy Perkins Climbing Rose.

Bob and Sammie xx

Groseeds have kindly sponsored this venture by providing seeds. All views, opinions, content and photographs are my own. Any advice given is from me, Sammie an amateur gardener and is followed at your own risk. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr