Over the last week, I have finally got round to sorting my tomato bed, ready for the end of the month when I plant out my outdoor tomatoes.
I have been growing a variety called ‘Outdoor Girl’, which I have used over the last few years. These tomatoes fruit a bit earlier than most outdoor varieties and I find this helps to get a good crop before the dreaded ‘blight’ hits. You can read about blighted tomatoes here.
Before I could dig the patch over, I had to clear the last of my winter cabbages. They have given me a great crop, but now it’s time to start to harvest my spring cabbages that are coming along nicely.
After clearing the cabbages and a few weeds, I forked over the patch. I had a small amount of manure left over from my old pile, so I also forked this in as it was well rotten and will help to improve the soil around my tomatoes.
Afterwards I sprinkled some blood, fish and bone, which is a slow release fertiliser and raked it into the soil.
I had some weed suppressant left over, so I laid it in-between the two rows, as this will help to keep the weeds down. The cabbages were the first crop I had grown in this area, so there are lots of weed seeds in this soil.
So now I will wait until the end of May to plant my tomatoes. I always wait until the end of the month to plant my tender crops and even then I check the weather forecast for the next week or so. I remember one year we had a late frost in the first week of June that killed all of my tomato plants, so I have certainly learnt from this.
Another job I did, was to plant my brussel sprouts. Last year I tried using an ‘F1’ variety to help stop my Brussels from ‘blowing’, which is when the brussel leaves don’t stay tightly together. This certainly helped, as I had a good crop.
On the 7th March this year, I sowed a variety called ‘Igor’ .
Brussel sprouts need firm, fertile soil, so I began the preparation of this bed back in the autumn. I started by digging manure into the bed and allowing the soil to settle over the winter.
Two weeks ago, I sprinkled some blood, fish and bone over the area and raked it in.
Also, to stop the brussels from ‘blowing’, I tread down the soil by walking all over it, before I plant them. In fact, I walk, dance and jump on it, just to make sure. After planting the brussels, I also tread down lightly around the plant with my boot, just to definately make sure the soil is firm around them. I do the same for cauliflowers as they grow best in firm soil too.
I put a homemade cabbage collar around each plant (you can see how to make them here) and then covered the plants with a net, using my usual ‘bottles and canes’ method and I will keep a close eye on the plants for a while.
This week I sowed my carrots outside.
I go to a lot of trouble to grow my carrots and I know some of you will think that it isn’t worth it (as carrots are so cheap to buy), but there is nothing like the taste of a home-grown carrot, they taste so sweet.
I never had any success growing carrots in my soil. I’m not sure if it is because it is heavy clay, but nothing I did helped the seeds to germinate. So now I grow them in a raised bed, which I have great success with, though it is hard work.
Over the winter, I filled my raised bed with homemade compost and I mixed in a lot of leaf mould. Finally, I mixed in some horticultural sand to help with the drainage. I left the raised bed for a few weeks, to let any weed seeds germinate and then I removed them.
I raked and raked until I finally had a fine tilth (which just means it looked like crumbs) and on Friday, I finally sowed my carrots and then covered them with environ mesh, to stop the carrot fly.
I will keep my fingers crossed now that they germinate.
Finally, I sowed some climbing annuals on the other side of my ‘swing’. I planted clematis last week. Hopefully they will look good in the summer:
A Bit Of What You Fancy Does You Good.
I haven’t had a piece of Madeira cake for ages and suddenly out of the blue I fancied a piece. So I indulged myself and made one. It was lovely. Here is the recipe:
175g margarine (or butter)
175g caster sugar
250g self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 tablespoons of milk
The zest of 1 lemon
Preheat your oven gas mark 4 / 180C / 350F
Grease a 7-8 inch cake tin and sprinkle flour over the fat, tap the excess flour off.
Cream the margarine and sugar together
Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add a tablespoon of the flour to the last egg to stop the mix from curdling.
Sift the rest of the flour and the baking powder into the bowl and fold it in.
Mix in the milk a little bit at a time, until the mix falls slowly off your spoon. Fold in the lemon zest.
Put the mixture evenly into your cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Leave to cool on a cooling tray.
Thank you for reading my blog today.
I will be back on Friday.