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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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……

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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.

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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

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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.

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Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4

Wow, what a fortnight it has been. A heatwave swept through the country, leaving some in a flash of thunder and lightening. Temperatures soared here in the South East to 33 degrees Celcius. On top of the high temperatures we have also experienced some very strong winds. The combination of heat and wind has kept us on our toes caring for our fledgling container garden. Settle back and enjoy Bob and Sammie’s adventures Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4.

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Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4 Nasturtium Peach Melba

I apologise for not posting last weekend. What started out as a very nasty migraine, proved to be a sinus and ear infection, which I am still battling, but definitely feeling better than I was!

As you may recall I had been waiting for the wind to die down so that our Chilli plants could be planted out in the front garden.

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Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4 Chilli plants and borage doing well.

The Chilli plants were indeed planted out at 8am one morning following a period of rain, with further rain promised. Even so, they were thoroughly watered in and seemed to be doing fine – until the heatwave hit. At midday last Tuesday it looked as though we were going to lose them. The Chill and Borage plants were completely wilting under the sun’s intensity.

Bob fetched can after can of water, which was then poured directly at the base of each plant. We could only hope and wait to see if they would recover. I think we caught them just in time, as one hour later they had perked up considerably. The front garden is South facing and the tiles beneath the front window also absorb heat from the sun. The plants in this bed now get watered three times a day. Hopefully as the heat settles and the plants really get their roots into the soil we can water less often.

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Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4 Our first proper harvest.

The beauty of the rain followed buy the heatwave was that we got to pick and eat our first proper harvest. French Breakfast Radishes (they are so pretty) and big handfuls of Wild Rocket. These were incorporated into our salad with quiche and new potatoes and they tasted amazing.

As we are growing organically, without the use of pesticides, we do get the odd snail which we pick off, or various bugs that like to live amongst the salad leaves. To ensure they don’t end up on our dinner plates I cut the leaves with scissors, plunge them into a bowlful of cold water and the dry them in a salad spinner. If you don’t have a salad spinner, wrapping the leaves in a tea towel and swinging it in a circular motion, preferably in the garden also works – although you may attract some funny looks from your neighbours!!!

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The heatwave did affect the plants.

In the photo above there are Rainbow Carrots planted in a deep pot in the centre, next to my permenantly planted Chives – companion planting, to deter carrot fly with the mild smell of onion from the chives. You can also see a very pretty white flower leaning over the carrots. This is the French Breakfast Radishes that ran to seed due to the heat.

Put in very basic terms, during periods of stress, such as high temperatures or lack of water, it is not uncommon for vegetables to prematurely flower. These will then be pollinated and the plant produces seed. During the heatwave this happened not only to our radishes, but also some of our lettuces and the wild rocket. The term is called ‘bolting’ where the lettuce plant grows tall. Generally the leaves become very bitter and the plant is best removed and put on the compost heap!

Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4
Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4 more success!

Two weeks ago Bob and I sowed some Freckles lettuce seeds from Groseeds. They are growing really well in a shadier part of the garden and should be ready to cut in another fortnight’s time. In the photograph above you can also see the Gartenpearle tomatoes are in full bloom and to the upper left you can see a beautiful purple flower.

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Purple Queen a semi – climbing French style bean.

Whilst I had been unwell, Bob had been in charge of watering, our Purple Queen French Beans had been happily blooming and growing. We must be doing a good job of attracting pollinators, these beans as well as our courgettes are starting to produce vegetables. All our hard work is paying off.

It is the most thrilling feeling to have a root around your container vegetables to find mini courgettes developing and beans growing!

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Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4 Golden yellow courgettes.

Our green courgettes are just starting to produce too! I have plans for a courgette salad with our first harvest.

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Our corner of productivity.

The Wilko pots are over flowing with herbs, salad and a pretty Dahlia that is yet to bloom. The Painted Lady runner beans keep being pinched out when they reach the top of the bamboo canes and the Coriander is covered in pretty white flowers, our aim is to save the seed to use in chutney and curries.

We still have more to do. Our Roma tomato plants still haven’t been planted out, however, we have a special experiment which involves those. More on that next week.

More Rainbow Carrots, French Breakfast Radishes and Beetroot have been sown into similar polystyrene containers that were used for the courgettes. Another sowing of lettuce leaves and some spring onions – which although germinated have been swamped by their companion plants – needs to be carried out. Tarragon and Thyme both need potting on and we need to sow seeds for next year.

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Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4 enjoyment is key!

Bob and I were determined, from the start, that Growing Vegetables would be a fun venture. As I stopped to take the header photograph of the bee on an Echinops flower (which I grew from seed) I watched the bees buzzing to and fro amongst the Lavender and Hebe, all in full bloom. I smiled. The slow, drunk, pollen covered bees on the Echinops were in no hurry, the bees on the lavender wouldn’t keep still long enough for me to count them and butterflies were gone, fluttering on the breeze before I could capture them on camera.

Our garden is beautiful. It is my sanctuary. When I need peace it is where I belong. We never own a garden, we are simply caretakers. So remember to enjoy your garden. It is unique and will respond to tender loving care.

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Our purple corner in full bloom.

Actually our purple corner is in the middle of the garden, opposite the apple tree on the right (out of sight). It is a haven for bees, butterflies and all manner of beautiful creatures and insects. It is a place of quiet calm for me. I can lose hours watching the comings and goings of insect life.

Do you have a place of calm in your garden?

Bob and Sammie xx

To catch up if you have enjoyed reading Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4 here are the earlier weeks:

Growing Vegetables Week 1

FF Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4
Growing Vegetables Week 1

Growing Vegetables Week 2

Growing Vegetables Weeks 3-4
Growing Vegetables Week 2

Groseeds sponsored our attempt at growing vegetables in containers by providing us with seeds. All views, opinions, photography and content are my own. I (Sammie) am an amateur gardener, any advice followed is completely at your own risk. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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