So a month has elapsed since our first gardening update and things have been moving very quickly since then. We have purchased another (bigger) greenhouse, dug our way through multiple bags of compost and had a few mishaps along the way, not to mention a crazy amount of snails.
After potting up our seedlings to larger pots, about 3 weeks later the time came to pot them up again, especially the tomatoes 🍅 , because they enjoy a warmer climate we are trying to keep them in the green house for as long as possible so they can grow nicely and produce plenty of tomatoes. With tomatoes when they reach a certain size we have learnt that new roots can sprout out of the stem, so the best way to ensure the plant can get the most out of the nutrients in the soil is to plant them nice and deep, to the bottom of their first leaves. this means if any new roots shoot out of the stem then they have quick and easy access to the nutrients in the soil so the tomatoes should grow big and strong.
When living in Italy last year we also learnt a top tip when it comes to tomatoes; when leaves are established they form at a 90 degree angle from the plants main stem until they reach a certain size, from this 90 degree angle a new shoot will form at 45 degrees in-between the main stem of the plant and a main leaf shoot. These new shoots, forming at 45 degrees can be pinched off as soon as they grow, you don't want them to grow too big as they simply divert energy from the main stem which should be used for growing juicy tomatoes.
The time also came round to planting out our broad beans, they could have grown in the ground from the start but we decided to get ahead of the weather and planted a batch and kept them inside until the weather has brightened up, which It has over the past couple of weeks. We used a small poly tunnel sourced from the depths of Robins grandads shed which has kept them nice and protected from the inclement weather earlier in the month, in front of the beans we have planted a whole row of courgettes and squashes. because they're a whole lot shorter then the beans they should not create too much shade and both should enjoy the same amount of sun during the day.
We also planted out lines of lettuce, chard, and beetroot into the main bed, we planted them in rows so they easy to identify and to be able to see if some are performing better than others.
We have also been feeding the plants. We have been using a normal organic seaweed mix to feed all of our plants (and new grass seed) every 10-14 days or so. its amazing what difference the feed makes. a day or so after feeding the plants you notice a hefty growing spurt, Especially in the courgettes and beans! were now pleased we spent a couple of weeks ensuring the soil was in good enough condition to plant the veggies, after seeing the difference a good feed makes were sure the preparation of the soil is as key as all the other factors needed when growing plants!
Everything is growing really well, especially the peppers which Lauren grew from seeds taken from supermarket peppers we used in a salad! This is another really great way to get into gardening, and just seeing what you can grow with what you have got. Although we do feel Robins coconut growing experiment may be slightly too ambitious...the butternut squash and melons are all growing really well in the greenhouse!
Now the weather is really starting to warm up the plants are growing like crazy and we cannot wait to see what the next month brings, there are flowers forming on the beans, peas (along with a pea pod!) and courgettes and the lettuces are looking more and more delicious day by day.
We have also discovered there are plenty of ways to create your own fertiliser, we don't have a very large garden so a compost heap wouldn't be very beneficial to us, however there are other ways to feed your garden. If you can grab some nettles, throw them in a bucket for a couple of weeks with some water, stir everyday or so and after around 14 days you should have some garden ready goodness, there is a whole lot of nitrogen in nettles and as it seeps into the water it creates the perfect fertiliser, simply water it down, depending on its strength (we've been using around 1/5 nettle soup and 4/5 water) and your good to go!
What we have learnt in the last month.
1. Its easy for plants to get burnt. We have noticed some of our plants have scorch marks on, usually caused when a wet leaf touches the side of a greenhouse or spends too long in the sun. The water droplet can act as a magnifying glass and burn the cells in the plant causing it damage!
2. The best way to catch snails is to head out with a torch after dark. After we woke up to a couple of casualties we decided a midnight snail search was necessary, and we were not disappointed. We managed to find over 100 snails! all making their way to our beloved plants!
3. Keep an eye on your plants every day! whether its looking for bugs and creepy crawlies to checking whether they're not in the right conditions. Gardening really is a daily occupation and we love nothing more then wandering around our little garden with a cup of tea every morning & evening to see what's been happening throughout the day or night.