Hi again, I’m back in the kitchen garden for 2016 and I’m playing catch up to make up for not doing much at all during February and March. If you’re thinking about starting your own veggie patch then it definitely isn’t too late.
Here’s what’s been going on in the last few days. First of all, I’ve sown up a few seeds.
I started by sowing marigolds, butternut squash, tromboncino courgettes, tomatillos and outdoor tomatoes. The tomatillos, tomatoes and marigolds are in small seed trays, and the rest are in pots. They’re on the brightest, warmest windowsill because they all need some heat to get started. They’re all doing really well with fast and near-total germination rates, apart from the Tumbling Tom Yellow F1 tomato seeds, where only a single seedling has raised its head so far. I’ve re-sown the last two seeds from the tiny packet of six and am keeping my fingers crossed, although I’m not feeling that hopeful about them.
The marigolds and butternut squashes need the biggest headstart of anything on my grow list this year. In spite of what it said on the packet, butternut squashes need a very long growing season so to stand any chance of getting fruit from them they need to be going right now. British weather isn’t generally warm enough for long enough, so they need the extra time. The marigolds need to be big and strong for planting out time because otherwise they won’t have enough of a protective effect against garden pests. They’re also a source of food for helpful pollinating insects so the stronger the seedlings are, the better.
I’ve also sown up a couple of windowsill propagators this past weekend. The first one contains Konsa and Marketmore cucumbers, Sweet Genovese basil and Thai basil. There’s a spare place in there for some cucamelon seeds that I saved from a fruit last year, but I didn’t prepare the seeds properly before drying and they probably still have some pulp on them that will inhibit germination. They’re soaking in water now for a few days, in the hope that the pulp might ferment off and the seeds could be viable (unlikely, but worth a go).
The second slimline propagator contains some Lilia red salad onions, Bright Lights chard, Brokali Apollo (a calabrese-kailaan cross that makes broccoli similar to the patented Tenderstem variety), and some land cress. The Brokali Apollo comes in packets of 25 seeds and I’ve sown 12 to eventually take the strongest six, so I’m using the propagator cells to keep a close eye on germination rates. The land cress did very badly last year and I couldn’t work out why, but the new packet says it needs to be at 15 degrees C for 14 days or more to germinate so it now becomes perfectly clear that it needs to be started off indoors when the weather’s being unpredictable.
Garden chores in April
There have also been lots of chores to complete around the plot, and while I’m not completely on top of all those yet I have started ticking off the list. The first was sowing a box full of Carter’s cat grass for ASBO Kitty, to help keep her healthy. The second was giving liquid feed to the rhubarb patch, strawberries, raspberry canes and cherry tree. They’re all recovering from winter and putting on new growth, and the feed will help a bit.
The other thing I’ve done is scatter around some organic slug pellets in the hope of cutting the numbers of slugs and snails before the garden really starts to wake up for the new season.
There’s still plenty to do, but there’s still time in the next week or two to get around to all of it.
Are you growing your own fruit or veggies this year? What do you still need to do this month?