A Very Cheap Fruit Cage & Sowing The ‘Big Boys’

**** Don’t forget I will be back on Monday 28th April ****

.

My leeks are one of the first crops I sow in the new year and this year I sowed them on the 21st February.  They are a variety called ‘Musselburgh’.

Leeks are an easy crop to grow from seed.  I sow them in a seed tray and leave them inside my house until the moment they germinate and then I move them to my cold greenhouse to grow on.

No matter how I try, I always sow my leek seeds too thickly and at this time of year I end up having to carefully ‘thin’ them out.  ‘Thinning out’ is just a name for removing some of the plants, so that the remaining ones can grow to a decent size before you plant them out.

SAM_8732

I usually leave about one centimeter between plants.  You can see in the photographs below the tray before thinning and after thinning:

SAM_8730 SAM_8733

Just one point to remember, it’s best to give your plants some water afterwards, to help settle their roots after any disturbance from the thinning:

SAM_8734

.

A lot of my time this week has been spent seed sowing.  I start most of my vegetable seeds off at home as I find I get a much better gemination rate as I can give them the exact conditions that the seeds like.

So this week I have sown my outdoor tomatoes, parsnips, beetroot, spring onions, spring broccoli, khol rabi, basil, coriander, swede, lettuce, turnips and perpetual spinach.

I have also started to sow what I call the ‘big boys’…my summer squashes.  I have sown butternut squash, pumpkins, patty pans, courgettes and my gherkins.  These are all sitting snug and warm in propagators behind our french doors at home.  Incidentally, I have had these propagators for years and they were so cheap to buy from places like Wilkinsons or the pound shop:

SAM_8787

I like to try out something new each year and this year I have decided to give the ‘cucamelon’ a go.  I have read various good and bad reviews about these, so I decided to bite the bullet and have a go myself.

Apparently, they look like grape sized watermelons that taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime and they are supposed to be really easy to grow….I will let you know.

You can read about cucamelons here.

SAM_8772 SAM_8769

.

I also sowed my climbing peas this week, they are a variety called ‘peashooter’.  I absolutely love this variety as the peas are so fat and juicy and I have never had a bad crop.  I saved the seeds from last years crop, as the seeds are expensive to buy and easy to save.

Because these seeds are so precious to me, I start them off in toilet rolls in my greenhouse, so I give them the best chance to germinate without mice eating them:

SAM_8763 SAM_8762

.

I also like to have some salad leaves handy at home, ready to use, so I started off some mixed salad leaves this week too.

SAM_8775

I used an old grocers box with an old compost bag to line it.  I fill it with compost, sow the seeds and then cover the seeds with a little more compost.  I then just place the box and in my greenhouse and give it a good water.

SAM_8774 SAM_8790

Below are some mixed salad leaves that I sowed in exactly the same way on the 6th March.  So you can see they don’t take long to grow, as these are nearly ready:

SAM_8777

I use them as a ‘cut and come again’ crop, as once you cut them they grow again.

.

The green house is filling up nicely now.

  You can see in the photograph below that I started to ‘pot on’ my greenhouse tomato plants (which just means to put them in a bigger pot) but unfortunately I ran out of compost, so I only managed to do two of them.  I will do the other ones over Easter:

SAM_8778

.

At my allotment this week I finally painted the wood around the new area that surrounds my blackberries.

SAM_8728

I also began a project to smarten up the area in front of my utility area. I put some wood down to surround my bed and finished it off with a lick of wood stain too.

SAM_8727

.

I also planted a clematis that my daughters bought me for Mother’s Day.

SAM_8791

I planted the clematis to climb up the old swing that I brought to the allotment a couple of weeks ago.  I made sure the clematis was planted deeply and I covered the roots with stones to guard against ‘clematis wilt’.

.

SAM_8681

 SAM_8782

The clematis I planted over the other swing last year, was an early flowering clematis called ‘montana’.  The new clematis will flower during summer, so hopefully it will look beautiful climbing over the swing.

.

This week I also put up my D-I-Y, no nails or screws, fruit cage.

I can’t afford one of those lovely fruit cages you can buy that just slot together and myself and Mr Thrift are not very good at D-I-Y, so a few years ago I came up with the idea of using canes, bottles and netting and it had worked brilliantly over the years.

Fruit netting should really be taken down over the winter so the birds can eat the grubs that pupae under the fruit bushes, so my cage works great as it’s only needed for a few months in the year.

All I do is make holes in the bottles to hold up the canes and push the supporting canes into the ground:

SAM_8725

I find that the plastic bottles that cheap handwash comes in, are the best bottles to use as the plastic is soft and doesn’t go brittle and can be used time and time again:

784_5052910306784_IDShot_225x225

After the canes and bottles were up I just pegged down the netting and the result is a very cheap fruit cage:

SAM_8784

.

I also dug up some of my remaining leeks this week and made the most enormous pot of leek and potato soup, also using my last few homegrown potatoes from last year.

SAM_8764

SAM_8740 SAM_8741

I managed to get nine portions of soup to freeze and I also sent some of it down to my In-laws for lunch.  I always feel good when I have made meals out of homegrown vegetables.  I find it so satifying.

.

Finally, I decided to change the signs that show my plot number, as the old ones were really scruffy.  I used some old wood and the posts from the old signs and gave them a lick of paint.  I then used my daughter acrylic paints for the colours.  I still have two more posts to paint yet.

Wilkinsons were selling some of their paints and varnishes off cheap and I managed to get a small tin of varnish for just 50p (which I was really quite proud of).

SAM_8768

So I have now given my new signs their first coat of varnish.  I’m not really an artist as you can see, but I’m quite pleased with them so far (even though they are a bit ‘girlie’)….

SAM_8766 SAM_8765

.

Anyway, it’s time for me to go now.

I am going to take a couple of weeks off writing, to spend time during the Easter school holidays with my daughters.

So I will be back on Monday 28th April.

I will be around to read and answer your comments so please them coming, as it’s lovely to hear from you.

Thank you for reading my blog today and have a good easter.

Advertisements

29 thoughts on “A Very Cheap Fruit Cage & Sowing The ‘Big Boys’

  1. Happy Easter : )
    Is it worth using a mini size of your fruit cage with a close net mesh over my carrots to try to keep off the carrot fly? Also, later on over my cabbages/caulis?

  2. Brilliant post again, we have been busy up at our land, hubby spent 4 hours mowing so its looking tidier, i have been weeding and love the idea of the fruit cage have a 15 x 15 ft fruit area so will try and make one, we are thinking of next year or following getting a poly tunnel how big is yours? and do you find it a valuable asset? I sowed the perpetual spinach in the greenhouse over winter and have had an amazing crop from 15 plants, i shall definately grow again on alternate sides, and try something else where the spinach was.
    Have a great Easter Sue

  3. The fruit cage is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I love clever thrifty ideas like this. You’ve been busy with your sowing and potting. I’ve put quite a lot in here too, the windowsills are very full! I hope you all have a lovely Easter break,

    • Thanks CJ. By the way I laughed at your post the other day…it really brought back memories of when I used to take my daughters to our allotment and yes they always wanted to do what each other was doing and not what I wanted them to do lol. Lovely blog by the way.

  4. I liked the fruit cage, nice and simple. I also have the same problem with my leaks, but I just use scissors to snip off the unwanted ones just at the surface of the soil. That way I don’t disturb the reaming roots (or pull out any extra with my fat fingers).

  5. Hi Mrs T, I know it’s too early yet for planting runner beans but in anticipation (lol!) I’ve been looking to buy some bamboo canes. They seem to be a bit thin the ground in the shops and also very spindley. Do you think 6ft ones are the way to go & how many would you suggest?
    Off to Trentham gardens tomorrow for gardening inspiration, ( I hope !).
    : )

    • Hi Marise, how are you?…well I hope. Yes 6ft ones are best. I usually put two beans in per cane. I usually start my beans off at home at the beginning of May, ready to plant out after the last frosts here which usually is around the very end of May. So be careful not to plant them too early. If you are sowing them direct in the soil, then I would sow them a couple of weeks before the last frosts in your area.

      I’m hoping to go to Trentham Gardens with my sisters in a few weeks…it looks lovely. Let me know what you think of the gardens.

      • Fine thanks 🙂 better if I could be out in this lovely sunshine instead of stuck in an office!
        Thanks for the info. I will be sowing direct and I’m not too far from you, M1, Junction 25, so I expect the same sort of timeframe with frosts.

        Well we went to Trentham as part of an organised trip but only got a limited amount of time and to be honest at £9.25 entry (hadn’t realised this until we got there) I would prefer to go again for a full day, take a picnic, chairs, the whole caboodle lol! So what we did was go around all of the little shops (very nice) and around the absolutely huge garden centre. Lovely coffee shop/restaurant too. I was a little disappointed with the veg section as it all looked a bit leggy, the other plants were really nice tho’. I was also very pleased that other allotmenteers at our allotments had given me fruit bushes and canes as they were expensive to buy!

        I’m so proud, picking radishes and mixed salad leaves – our first harvest from our allotment 🙂

      • Well done you Marise!…it really does feel nice to be picking things from your own allotment and I bet it tastes much nicer than shop bought veg too. Thanks for the update on Trentham Gardens. We are going for a whole day so hopefully the veg section will be a bit better then

  6. Yes they do taste better. I’ve never eaten a juicy radish before! We have only managed to bring home 6 because we’ve eaten all the rest as we’ve pulled them up lol!

  7. Leeks are cheap in the shops at the moment. I got six for $1. Made some lovely potato and leek soup 🙂 I have not tried growing leeks for a while as the last batch only grew weeney sized. Might try them again if I can make some space….
    The nets over thw garden made me think of what I have over my own. I actually have to cover my garden now!! I had some netting that was for covering fruit trees, but I had never used it, so I chopped it up and put it back together agin over my beds, as I was discovering just how destructive chooks can be, what with their digging and their pecking!!
    (on the plus side I do not have any slugs or snails in there either 😀 )

  8. Lots of good info. thanks for sharing. Do you make your own compost & plant food? It is well worthwhile if you are growing in containers. Tomatoes & peppers fed with steeped comfrey leaf liquor did better than with commercial feed. See my latest blog post if you are interested; air-potgardener.com
    Alex

    • Yes Alex I am a big compost maker and I think there is nothing better than a fowl smelling comfrey tea to feed plants that need a high potash feed e.g. fruit and flowers . I will take a look at your blog, thank you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s