Tiddler tomatoes 2014

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This years tomato babies are only just starting to get their proper leaves. Some of them are a little bit taller than expected; didn’t quite pot them up as well as I could have. Also they are stretching towards the light a bit. I am debating putting them into the 4TB; mainly as it is still quite cold at night. Should I then cover them with a fleece and leave them to it?

Debating this morning as to whether I should modularise running beans and broadies. All too eager….

Ebb and flow

Over the last few days, there has been a brief window of respite from the deluge of rain that the British Isles has been experiencing. The volume of precipitation has reduced some what, and the sun-yes, the sun-has even made an an appearance or two. With that, the puddles have started to dissipate! woo-hoo!

The plot is still damp, yes, there has been alot of water. But the puddles that had been there have in fact gone. I can see clearly low the dips, and a few of the onions and shallots that were planted in the late autumn. A few of the flooded parts have sent up a few shoots, but not many. Shallots are only just sending up clumps of shoots.  One of my site neighbours does believe that the onions, shallots and garlic will recover. Her logic being that the plot has been under a foot of water before, and the onions et cetra still came off. We shall see!

The garlic doesn’t seem to be doing too badly, a little wind burned, but still there. The red onions are most likely a write off. As are the broad beans that were sown. Both of these could be resown, but this drying up of ground does present me with the opportunity to perhaps sink potatoes there instead. Broadbeans could be sown else where further down on the plot, rather than on the project othello section. Have never had much success with spuds in open ground, so this could be the plausible window to do so. At least now, Ma doesn’t have to have any broadbeans. It is now easier to see where wig wams could also be positioned. Once the plot gets drier, I can assess all the seven open ground beds on project othello.

The doom and gloom is lifting, the whole plot seems lighter, and there were even some crocuses come through. As well what looked like daffodils and tulips.

Thinking out aloud

In this gap, with the wind hurling its weight around and the potential to start sowing; I find myself speculating what I might grow. All plots are different, I know I would say that mine is stuck in its own little universe with its own microcosm. The site I am on, varies as to who has success with what. Plot 2 spends a lot of time under water when we have rain, and the open grown is heavy clay. This means that some things work and some just don’t.

With lots of raised beds on the lower half of the plot; this helps overcome
Some of the flooding issues. The top half-project othello-is largely open ground and the dips in the topography are flooded. Dips, which were where onions have been sunk.

Whilst there are early sowings of window sill babies, I have turned my attention to what happens next. A majority of the raised beds have sunk and need refilling. That is what the leaf mold will be used for. There are seed potatoes that need to be sunk. Might experiment with both open ground and raised beds. Beans would be the next thing. Both runner beans and climbing French beans to be grown up wig wams. Usually these are modularised in March. I would also like to retry celery and cauliflowers. I had some purple cauliflower seeds to try. I did try these before, a classroom experiment that didn’t come off as they got too leggy and keeled over. Have yet to do carrots properly. There is also fennel to consider; didn’t quite get the hang of it last year. Cucumbers were an interesting foray. With crystal lemon and marketmore being the only ones working. Might well be a polytunnel job. Another experiment might be the sweet crimson watermelon in the polytunnel.

Sweetcorn was curious. Did only end up with eight plants surviving. Not sure if I fancy trying that again. Was debating modularised cabbages in the vein as cauliflowers.

All these potential experiments. But will the Wendy, 4TB and poly cope?

Potting up progress

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Have realised that the windowsill babies are getting on a bit. Some of the seedlings have started to grow past their baby leaves, albeit a little slowly. The aubergines have been growing quite quickly compared to the chillies. Thought I might as well pot everything on.

Seedlings are still a little small; but it is still very early. Perhaps won’t have more accelerated growth til later. I have for the moment removed the foodbag cloches. Just hope things don’t got pair shaped!

Magic square project

Finally, we are into double figures!

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Have just finished and stitched on the tenth panel. Has taken me a little longer than expected, but done never the less. I have found that the metal knitting needles have felt too heavy and my wrists are sore. With this in mind, have found some bamboo knitting needles.

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These are definitely different. The wool is held more tightly and there is something warmer about them. Much lighter than the metal ones too.

Go, little greenhouse

Finally, the cover for the 4TB has arrived. A little bigger than expected, but that is a lot better than smaller. I had purchased one that did turn out to be smaller, and of no use. This may be bigger, but it is also made of the same reinforced material as the wendy house and the poly tunnel. I am hoping, therein, that it lasts a while. That said, the cover that was replaced is in fact five years old. Apparently, the shop that made the 4TB has changed the dimensions, so I couldn’t an appropriate replacement. That said, to their credit, the company was very good about making amends. In the poly tunnel yesterday, it was a rather balmy twenty degrees. The best thing, that it was still there, and hadn’t floated off. The wendy house was there also, for which we are also thankful. The lyon prizewinner leeks are still there and quite snug too.

Tomatoes aren’t doing too badly at the moment. The vast majority of the seeds that were modularised have come through. The module was sat on the not very warm window sill, and so they did take their time. The babies were also a little leggy, which resulted in them having to be demodularised and then potted up. No mean feat, as I am not very good at pricking out and potting up. Which is why, I only sank singular seeds to begin with. In essence, at the moment, we have the same number of tomato plants as we did last year. It remains to be seen, if these will all achieve maturity.

On the next window sill, we have the the aubergines. Dancer, diamond, tres hative de barbentane  and black beauty have all come through. I am still waiting for early long purple to germinate. There was a pleasant surprise in how quickly the aubergine seeds have come up.

Of the chillies and superhots, I have yet to see any of yellow scotch bonnet and orange habanero. Fire has been temporarily written off in failing to come off entirely. The dorset naga looked a bit precarious, having caught a cold; it looked as though it was going to keel over. I checked this afternoon, and it did appear to have rallied. I’m not hedging my bets. I would like it to survive, one has a dorset naga chilli challenge to try! Have resown some california wonder, as i had somewhat neglected to re-sow a sweet pepper. All those hot chillies, and no sweetness. One is thinking of all the possible chilli jam to be made.

I have kept all the babies in foodbag cloches. Mainly, as they are on window sills that don’t always stay warm. With some heat and light trapped, the cloche offers something of a security blanket. I am conscious that a sudden drop in temperature could wipe everything out. I would like to place the tomato babies in the 4TB, under a fleece. Just not sure if they would survive, would be a tragedy for them to be annihilated after being pampered for so long.

crinkly cabbage and greens



To date, my success with brassicas has been confined to the cauliflowers that my aunty tish gave me as plugs. Even then, they were hybrids. The sort that make traditional gardeners boo and hiss. At the end of last summer, I plugged into some brought plugs, of assorted brassicas. These were a  risk, with no idea of any possible success.

Plugged into raised beds beneath either fleece or net, these were left to their own devices. One thing and one thing happened. Slugs and slimers ate them. They also got a bit leggy as i didn’t space them out properly. Not much has survived, even less has hearted up and formed proper cabbages. I had seen a handful of plants that had somewhat avoided being turned into a lace curtains. What you see above, is some evidence. A small crinkly savoy like artefact. A few of the external, outer leaves were rather lacy, and have been removed. Leaving behind a diddly heart. This is nestled into a bushel type thing, which resembles what I can only describe as spring greens. This didn’t heart up at all. It was just a mass of leaves with a stalk attached to it.

Think the plan is to steam as an accompaniment to casserole. Must admit that I am cheered by having cultivated a crinkly savoy cabbage. Encourages me to think a little closer on sowing some more of my own. The past history for those has not been good; with the slimers decimating them, and then cabbage butterflies doing their thing too. I do have netting this time, so perhaps that might make a difference.

potato plotting and preponderance



With the ‘lotment plot currently squelchy and for the some part underwater, it is bitter sweet to have potatoes waiting in the wings. This week, the ‘lotment secretary kindly popped around with some of the potatoes to be sunk this year. I had forgotten that I had also ordered King Edwards and Maris Piper from another source. In addition to this, I am expecting maris peer for later on in the year.

Selected for this year we have:

  • lady balfour
  • Kestrel
  • Red Duke of york
  • International Kidney-then name makes me laugh
  • King Edward
  • Maris Piper
  • and for Kismet….maris peer

For me, that looks like a lot of potatoes. And I don’t have that much space, digging is not my favourite task either. Last year, there were three raised beds of potatoes. This worked quite well, with spuds planted in poop. The issues that arose were slug damage, and that meant we lost out on proper potato fleshiness. This year, decisions will have to be made as to where the spuds are sunk with the bulb planter. As i say. digging, is not my favourite thing to do, especially with heavy clay. The options are open ground, carefully selecting where as some parts get more flooded than other. Or in raised beds, with leaf mold as the beds need re-filling.

At the moment, it is raining and its windy; so the worry is that thatt the plot may not necessarily be as dry as it should be by the time potatoes need to be sunk. The other issue, is to chit or not to chit. I have chitted once before, and the entire crop died a death due to the rain. Last year, the spuds were left in an a box and self chitted producing long tendril like sprouts. These were removed before the spuds were sunk. This year, I don;t think I will chit. I simply don’t have the room, ma would not be happy about spuds littering the house.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed about the rain get less and the ground drying out.

Tomato progess



I had a peek yesterday at the modularised tomato seeds, and found a few babies had germinated and were actually a little leggy. In order to prevent the legginess from increasing and causing them to keel over, I have potted them up today up to their baby leaves. All being well, the stem will send out some stabilising roots and the babies will become a little more solid and robust. There were quite a few modularised, but only ten babies have come up so far. Hopefully, a few more will come through. I did see a couple of contenders coming through their seed cases.

At the moment, there are babies belonging to aisla craig, yellow stuffer, black cherry, marmande and gardeners delight. These are of course a very early sowing, and the danger remains that these will be cold and keel over. The plan is, to keep them inside for a short while, and then transfer to the 4TB once that has had it’s cover replaced. I am always some what saddened when baby seedlings keel over.

Last year, I didn’t label them, or separate them out as seedlings, They were transplanted outside and into raised beds. This year, we have labels, and I deliberately didn’t sow lots and lots. I’m not very good at pricking them out, so the potting up process was done with care and very slowly. it will be interesting to see which ones are the most productive. Depending on how many grow, it may be possible to carry out a further experiment. Half the cohort could be once again placed outside into raised beds, with the other half grown in the poly tunnel if there is enough room. Last year, there was a bumper crop of tomatoes, they all remained green and had to be ripened indoors. Based purely on the appearance, I think marmande was the most prolific. If there is the same level of cropping, it might be useful to have a recipe for a relish or chutney.