Tag Archives: polytunnel

Sowing Seeds on a Saturday

Today is the first day of my Easter Holidays, and that means starting to think about what is to do on the allotment. In particular, inside the polytunnel.

The youtube version can be found here.

Whilst I have tried plants and potatoes in the poly tunnel, this is the first for seeds. I have scattered an assortment of radishes, beetroot and different types of lettuces. There were all year round butter head lettuces, as red yugoslavian, lollo rosso, little gem and one called rouge D’Hiver. With radishes, we have a mixture. In terms of beetroot we have have the usual boltardy and Chioggia.

It was very cold in there! Less warmer than it was the other day when the shelving was built.

 

I hid in the poly tunnel, whilst Mum did some digging outside. Whilst it was cold, the plot has started to dry out a little bit more. I think the worse thing that might happen in terms of the weather might be a deluge of April showers. No news yet on the beans sown the other day, I suspect the poly tunnel needs to be a little warmer.

 

Plot Productivity Part two- Early August

The poly tunnel is burgeoning with triffid like tomatoes, chillies and aubergines. The tomatoes have had to be defoliated and regularly; they have been become very very leafy. They are being fed, but not every day, with watering more regular. What I have noticed is that since I have been defoliating, there have been more yellow fruit. In defoliating, two fruits ended up coming away in my hands. These are marmande and cream sausage tomatoes.

I have harvested half a crop of blueberries. These are a mixture of darrow and blue jay berries. The blue jay are smaller, with the darrow being large and quite fat. Both bushes are cropping for the first time, and are grown in large pots. I look forwards to the additional crop to be had from the darrow bush.

And we have our first aubergine flower! I nearly missed it amongst the foliage, but did make sure it was tickled today. I had though the plant would be a little bigger, they were last year in the open ground. So we shall see if the plant actually crops.

Finally: Poly tunnel plugged in and potted up

Today is something of a red-letter day. The polytunnel on the plot now has everything tucked into it. The Growing season is officially ready to rock and roll. Unless the weather or the world has a huge great big episode. If you have a look at the tags, you will see just how much is plugged in or potted up.

With exception of two plants-the Dorset Naga and Purple haze chillies-everything in that polytunnel has been sown and grown from seed. That tomatoes, chillies and aubergines. All of which have had some form of drama attached to it. The tomatoes got dehydrated, the chillies had aphids, the aubergines were and are somewhat developmentally delayed.

The chillies are now starting to flower, even the tiniest of the pots that contain the chocolate and orange habaneros have flower buds on. The Cayenne’s have a clutch of white flowers, and the purple haze is a spot purple.

The last of the chillies was potted up today, pettie belle, as were the four aubergine babies. The aubergines are a little smaller than I would have expected, but I did sow them later than I could have and on a whim.

Our challenge now, is to keep everything happy. Watered, fed, happy and not too hot. There is one vent open to help cool and offer some form of ventilation. Valuable lessons are incorporated into all of this. The chillies are in pots, and will stay that way, as will the aubergines. Previously both of these have been in the ground, and not a lot has happened. Tomatoes are plugged in, they have worked well outside in the ground. The added bonus of being under cover might help them this year. Copper tape is around most of the pots, as well as little blue pellets of doom.

Tomatoes are now looking happy, and they are sending out little yellow flowers. So this with the white chilli flowers is a sign of some positive things. I am not too sure about the Aubergines, they might catch up, they might not.

With everything plugged in, let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Heritage tomatos in the poly

I confess to not knowing a lot about heritage veg. I am trying it though, especially tomatoes. There are few varieties that I have sown beyond the usually money maker. I have yellow stuffer, as well as marmande, cream sausage and true black brandywine. The seeds for cream sausage and true black brandywine were from nicky’s nursery.

The true black and marmande beefsteak tomatoes. I have a little success marmande, there were lots of green tomatoes of this variety last year. Which is why, I have put the tomatoes in the poly tunnel this year. The first thing that you notice, is the shape of the flowers. On the cream sausage tomato-this a yellow, pear drop type fruit apparently, you have the traditional propeller blade flowers. On the other hand, the beefsteak tomatoes have a fuzzy sunflower type flower. The leaves are also different. I am intrigued as to how black the true black brandywine beefsteak will be, as I know that the yellow tomatoes really are a bright sunny yellow. These were ripened on the sill last year, and made into hot yellow sun chutney. With the exception of the smaller, plants, the vast majority of the tomato plants are starting to form buds and unleash bright yellow flowers. They are small still, less than 30cm high, but I am hoping that if we have warm bright weather, they will start shooting up and out. When I remember, I am trying to armpit them. When the plants were outside last year, they did take their time getting go, so we shall see how long it takes before everything starts flourishing.

Polytunnel Plug in Post @Maroon5 concert

poly

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing Maroon5 again. Prior to this, I spent time in the poly tunnel by way of a warm up. Singing,rather loudly, I might add. This involved putting manure into the poly tunnel and refreshing the soil. I also plugged in the vast majority of tomato plants bar one. Bar one, as the plants are still only two inches high.

The concert was epic, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Have now seen Maroon5 four times in ten years, and I was twice the age of their current fans. Maroon5 on shuffle tends to be what I have playing on the plot, all the time. Many slugs, have been slain, to the sound of Maroon5. Something about the vocals and guitar.

Anyway. the poly tunnel. This morning, I went to water the contents. We have vast variety of plants in there as listed below.

Tomatoes:

  • moneymaker
  • marmande
  • yellow stuffer
  • cherokee purple
  • true black brandy wine
  • cream sausage

Chillies:

  • cayenne
  • orange habanero
  • orange and chocolate habanero
  • pumpkin
  • raindrop
  • bellaforma
  • aji limo
  • serrano
  • apricot
  • purple haze

purplehazechilli

Above is the purple haze. This along with the Dorset Naga was purchased from sea spring seeds when they had a stall at the edible garden show. I bought plug plants of these two as the time had passed to sow from seed. Otherwise, I have sown and grown all the plants from seed. As you can see, there are two tiny purple chillies on the plant. So far, this is the most productive chilli plant, those are chillies number two and three! making this year already more successful than last year. We have had a spot of drama though, in having an aphid attack. The poor plants are only just starting to recover and send out new leaves. Lessons have been learned from last year. The chillies are in pots, and not in open ground. The result being, that the plants look happier, are more productive and don’t send out lots of bushy foliage with no flowers. Even the small plants in the brown pots are sending out flower buds. The additional benefit is that the pots can be moved around as things-fingers crossed-grow. I have one absent chilli-pettie belle-that is still to move on, plus four aubergine plants that are still being nursed at home.

Tomato Tales

Having had a mild panic last week with the tomatoes nearly dying, five of them have been transplanted. Think there are are dozen or so plants left to sink in the poly tunnel. Think the one’s in the photo’s are marmande, true black brandy wine, money maker and cream sausage. A majority of the plants are tall, and leafy; with some now starting to bloom and set trusses. The true black brandywine, is a heritage variety, a number of them are this year in fact; and that has just started to form fuzzy yellow flowers. These are quite different from your average tomato flower with its propeller blade shaped blooms. The plan is to sink the rest of the plants in the coming days having refreshed the soil a little. The tomatoes will then be bunk mates with potted chillies and maybe, maybe even this years aubergines that are only just getting a wiggle on.

Polytunnel potatoes: triffids arise

spudpoly

In the last two weeks, the Red Duke of York potatoes have taken on a life of their own. They have been fleeced as there is a chance of frost until the end of the month, Whilst the poly tunnel might reach the heady heights of 30 something degrees, it can still suffer a rapid drop in temperature at night. So all the shoots have been tucked up under fleece. And they really have taken off. They took a while to take off, the clay is horrible, and it was still quite cold when they were first sunk.As the weather picked up, and April was relatively calm; we didn’t have that many showers. The shoots have become more vigorous. My next thought would be when these are going to be harvested. These are to be taken up at the appropriate time, and tomatoes to be plugged in. The tomatoes are getting taller still in the 4TB. I have had a handful of RDOY potatoes previously, those were outside in the clay. Inside, there is a distinct difference. I have yet to furtle beneath the soil, I don’t want the potatoes to be really very diddly. Might give it another week to fourteen days, before seeing what lurks beneath.

Chillies and toms: To be potted on

Due to a very close family bereavement, the last week has been somewhat non horticultural. Haven’t been able to wander down to the plot to have a look. I did however, have to do some emergency potting up last week, and the task remains to pot up the rest. There was an emergency pot up of cayenne and the five aji limos. I think I have a serrano baby to pot up as well, so will have to get some MPC and start potting up. As you can see, some of them and lolling to one side as though they were a little bit drunk. The non-habanero chillies are flourishing, whereas the habaneros are still quite tiny, and very slow growing. The plan remains to have all of these in pots in the polytunnel.

The potting up process will also need to happen to the tomatoes. These are looking rather tall and leggy, and would benefit from a deep seat in larger pots. The tomatoes are going slower than the chillies, simply because I am being mean. I haven’t put them into direct warmth and heat, but will shortly when I run out of window sill space, so they haven’t had a sprint to start. Once potted up, I will perhaps move them to a brighter and warmer position. I have held off sowing more tomatoes, and I am pampering these somewhat and hoping that they survive.

The plot, the poly and potatoes

plot

I was going to play on the plot today. If only for a brief spell. What I really wanted to do, was sink potatoes. Yes, already.

I have had fairly dire success when it comes to potatoes. What for others might be a fairly straight forward thing to do, for me, is a challenge. There has been some limited success growing potatoes in raised beds, and that is what I will in a couple of months time. I don’t really want to dig trenches again into the clay. I did that last year, and the seed potatoes were basically eaten by the clay. What could have been a beautiful bountiful crop, was in fact diddly squat of not a lot really. Very few spuds actually came out, and I had planted quite a few. Was rather demoralising really. I don’t particularly want to feel that way again. Last year was the first time for a number of the varieties that I am trying this year.

This year, the spud list is as follows:

  • Red duke of York-first earlies
  • Kestral-second earlies
  • Lady balfour-Main crop
  • Pink fir apple-salad variety
  • International kidney-salad variety

What I have done today, could possibly end with disappointment, as I have set about doing an experiment. I toddled off to the plot, with a bulb planter, a transplanting trowel and a bag of red duke of york seed potatoes. I went into the poly tunnel. The soil in there has already been tidied up and even had poop put into it. It is still horrible clay though, like the rest of the plot. Then over the next hour, I sunk the seed potatoes. I started off with the bulb planter, but didn’t like it, and so the transplanter trowel dug slots for the spuds. Each seed was then popped in. and covered over with the dirt that had been dug over. This is the first time that I have sunk seed spuds undercover, and therein it’s an experiment. It is also rather early. Most people have probably only received their potato orders and are likely to be now chitting their spuds in preparation. There is fleece on hand, to cover the shoots as they come through. I realise that there is a huge gamble when we are still experiencing frosts and will do so, til the end of may. By that time, the spuds should be up and out. Leading to tomatoes and chillies being planted into the poly. I didn’t fancy having an empty poly tunnel for such a long time.

Previously, I have sown kestral and lady, not too bad. Both were okay variety, particularly in light of my spud growing naivete. International kidney got eaten by the clay last year and didn’t work. Pink Fir apple is new this year, as it is such a knobbly looking thing. What I need to reflect upon closely, is where all the potatoes are going to go, and how. I really don’t want to sink into the clay, as that is a short way to write everything off.

Beyond the potatoes, I took this opportunity to walk around and tidy up the raised beds. Three of them, require topping up with MPC. They currently contain leaf mold. These, I suspect will be used to grow potatoes. There are other beds, that would also benefit from topping up, have sunk quite a bit. I can start to work out now, what is going to go where. Mum is going to need a raised bed or two for spinach and fenugreek. Space where running beans and climbing beans might go, is currently covered in black plastic. I don’t want the clay to get even more wetter and stickier. The vast majority of the raspberry canes that were sunk before Christmas do appear to have rooted and remain plugged in. No sign of growth yet on them, though. With the fruit trees, the braeburn apple, falstaff and worcester pearmain have started to form buds. The rochester peach less so. The peach is on persica rootstock. I have done some research about the concorde pear, and it appears that another one near by would improve things. At the moment, I’m not sure there is one near by, and so might reflect on finding another to sink on the plot. The pear treee that I have, has never ever fruited. Even the victoria plum has fruited once upon a time. There are huge great big plum trees dotted on the site, I like to think that may have an effect.

Tidy up time at the winter solstice

Today is the winter solstice, and the darkness will soon descend as the afternoon draws to a close. The shortest day of the year, means you have to move a bit sharpish if you plan to do anything useful.

The inside of the poly tunnel has been on my mind for some time. All very untidy, and with grass sprouting up. This morning, on the second day of the Christmas holidays, I donned my red wellingtons and coat and wandered down to the plot. I had also, in rummaging in pop’s shed, found some bulbs that I forgotten about. A few crocus, alliuem and daffodils. Managed to dib in a few crocus before mama H arrived and told me to get home. Her reasoning being that I was the only there and no one was faffing on their plots.

Anyway, the purpose of today’s visit was tidy the polytunnel. The green edifice of all year growing. Sprouting grass is not all that attractive. Thankfully, most of the sprouting grass could be pulled and plunked up without taking clumps of earth up. The rest was decapitated by a three edged ‘oe, Also helped aerate the soil a bit.  Still looked a bit weary inside. The morrison’s buckets that had once held the chillies and bells were emptied out on top. Spent compost by way of refreshing it.  The polytunnel now looks like a blank canvass. if i think about it, and have a root around in the seed stasher. There are has to be something that can be scattered into soil.