Sow & Grow: May

Today I'm sharing my new monthly round-up of what I'm growing right now, and comparing that to the list published in the Grow your own fruit and veg magazine, as well as sharing an allotment update - so quite a functional post from me today, but hopefully useful nonetheless.

At a glance the magazine list looks a little shorter this month - there seems to be bigger pictures than last month - and that's welcome, although I think my sow & grow list is probably just as long as last month. I am starting to make space in the greenhouse though, and I have another 75 litres of seed compost so hopefully there'll be no stopping me - or my seedlings - soon!

Sow

  • Broad beans: Yay! Mine are on the allotment, we planted them out in a team effort as our almost-the-last-job-before-we-packed-up-and-came-home on Sunday.  It was a glorious day to spend on the allotment, but there's still so much more to do.  I'm tempted to add another row or two, when we manage to clear a bit more space to the left of this picture.
 BROAD BEANS PLANTED OUT ALONGSIDE A NEWLY WEEDED PATH

BROAD BEANS PLANTED OUT ALONGSIDE A NEWLY WEEDED PATH

  • Cabbages: A lack of greenhouse space has meant I've still not sowed these yet. They're still on my list, and hopefully once the warmer weather comes along (soon please!) they'll catch up.
  • Carrots: I do have a tyre at the allotment - long story, but it's off my car as the wrong size tyre was put on when I had a flat at some point, and rather than leave a hardly worn tyre with the garage, I brought it home for the allotment - so maybe I could use that. Hmmmn.
  • Courgettes and squash:  I'll definitely be planting these. I've no idea where I'll put them on the allotment but these are one of my go to crops.
  • Cucumbers: I'm getting quite impatient about the cucumber seeds I've planted.  None of the six have germinated yet. Maybe they will soon. Please.
  • Florence fennel: I still plan to give these a go, if I have space. My seeds could be past it though, so I'm not holding out too much hope.
  • Herbs: I'll be sowing more Basil, Coriander and Chives, as well as a first sowing of Angelica as one of my existing plants is flowering and I suspect that means it will be all over soon.
 FLOWERING ANGELICA

FLOWERING ANGELICA

  • Kohl rabi:  No, not ever. This isn't a vegetable I'll eat.
  • Peas: Yes, because you can't beat home grown peas. And some of them may even make it into the saucepan. I've got some lengths of drainpipe which I grow peas in (so I don't disturb the roots when planting on) and I also grow a pot full in the greenhouse which I use as a steady supply of pea shoots for salads. If you like pea shoots you should definitely do this, it's one of the easiest things to grow.
  • Potatoes: Phew, I'm glad to hear that these can still be sown, as mine are still out of the soil. We took them to the allotment on Sunday, not so they can see where they'll end up, but to plant them, but we ran out of time and dug space.  Soon though!
  • Radishes: I'm in two minds about these - they're quick to grow and the rainbow varieties are such pretty colours, but there's only so many radishes we can eat, and as usual I do the glut thing and they all come at once and I get all radished out. I should look to buy some of those lovely French-style radishes, I think I'd tire of these less quickly.
  • Salad leaves: I thought the other night that I don't have any of these on the go yet either, and that I really should. Again moderation and frequent sowings are key, both things that sadly I'm not so good at!
  • Sprouting broccoli: still my most favourite veg I think, and definitely something I should grow. We haven't eaten much of it this year as our local greengrocer has started to sell it in packets rather than loose, so I've sort of been boycotting the packeted stuff. If I grew my own then I wouldn't have this problem, would I?
  • Sweetcorn: I'll be growing this again this year, despite our mixed success last year. Why? Because the success we did have provided the tastiest, sweetest sweetcorn - and the smaller cobs, well I took the corn off the cob and I've still got some in the freezer, which is great for adding to stirfrys.
  • Sweet peppers: I'm still a probably not for these this year, but I would like my chillies to germinate.  I hit on a brainwave of an idea yesterday too, and that's to put my chilli seed tray on the parcel shelf of my car so they can get the heat they need, as when it's warm it's much hotter in our front garden than the back. I'll just need to remember I put them there or else they could frazzle or more likely end up over the backseat if I braked suddenly.
  • Turnips: The advice here is little and often, so while I will be growing some, I could struggle with the little and often bit. We'll see.

Plant

  • Aubergine: I'm not growing these this year, they're MOH's least favourite vegetable - although he still eats them - maybe these are ones for when we've got the allotment under control.
  • Blueberries: My plant is still doing relatively well, the flowers have gone and I'm still waiting to see how many of the fruits develop.
  • Brussels sprouts: Hmnn, I never got any sown last month, so maybe these will be off my list this year. 
  • Cauliflowers: Oh dear, I think I must have missed the sow these prompt. I had some great success with cauliflower plants last year so maybe I'll pop up the garden centre. Remember the cauliflower as big as my head?!
 CAULIFLOWER SUCCESS IN 2016

CAULIFLOWER SUCCESS IN 2016

  • Celeriac:  I'm still tempted to give these another go, and I think our new approach to the allotment may help.

As we've struggled to control and tame the weeds, after watching a recent episode of Gardener's World we're attempting the 'no-dig' approach. Well almost 'no-dig'.  We're having a bit of a dig, because it's what we do and then we're chucking in a load of compost to new raised beds, in a "we're-bringing-the-level-of-the-soil-up" kind of approach. I didn't really want to put raised beds into our plot, but equally I don't want to have that despondent feeling of having to start again each time we visit the allotment either, so hopefully it'll help our progress.

Even though we're using some old shelves, it's a more expensive approach, especially for such a large bed. We started as we planted the onions out, not that you can really see it as it's well hidden beneath this netting.

 USING THE BLACK SACKS FULL OF WEEDS AS WEIGHTS FOR OUR NETTING

USING THE BLACK SACKS FULL OF WEEDS AS WEIGHTS FOR OUR NETTING

  • Celery:  For me, this is on the advanced list. 
  • Courgettes and squash: A different sort of advanced list, if I had some already I'd plant them out, if I could.
  • Globe artichoke:  Our randomly growing artichoke is thriving under the crab apple tree. I'm not sure it's supposed to do so well there, and I really should take some cuttings from it this year, just in case it doesn't cope with the move I have planned for it well.
  • Marrows: I don't dislike marrows, but I don't tend to grow these. Dad usually does though and they're a must for any chutney maker.  Sorry if you're a chutney-lover and marrow-hater and I've just spoilt chutneys for you!
  • Pumpkins: Mine are still in the seed packet, but I've plans to grow some so I'd better get a move on.
  • Sweetcorn:  I noticed one of my fellow plot-holders already has her sweetcorn out and they're about six inches tall already. No wonder hers were always ahead of mine last year!

Harvest

  • Asparagus: I've none to harvest, but I'll happily eat any English grown asparagus.
  • Cauliflowers: No none of those either.
  • Endive:  I do like these, and we brought some back from our trip to France, but I don't think I can count those as harvested.
  • Kale: My kale was finished last month, and we enjoyed that added to some vegetable soup.
  • Radishes:  I've already shared my views on radishes earlier in this post!
  • Rhubarb: Our rhubarb is done, as is others on the allotment. I knew we wouldn't get much off of ours this year as you're not supposed to cut it in its first year. But next year, I'm going to be all about the rhubarb!
  • Salad leaves:  Ooh I wish.
  • Spring cabbage:  Again, I wish - I'm rather partial to those hispi cabbages.
  • Spring onions: Aha! I found some of these while I was clearing a space for the broad beans. MOH was having none of them because they were red, but they were red because they were the North Holland Blood Red type, we ate them for our late lunch yesterday evening. And their flavour was well developed, even though they were tiny!
  • Swiss chard: I still have a few plants on the allotment, and I'd noticed that the white variety seemed to have resurgence. I'm very tempted to pop back over there and cut some of those leaves, and slightly overlook that this is another of MOH's less favoured veg.

So there you go, I told you the list was shorter didn't I?  And I don't feel anywhere near as bad - or as behind - as I thought I might. I am though looking forward to some pottering in the greenhouse sowing some more seeds.  WE've also got some more digging to do as despite getting two seed trays of onions out, I've another four (yes four) to plant out.

Another of my greenhouse successes is my sunflowers. I sowed some from a packet and some from the sunflower heads I saved from the plot, unsure how they'd fare. And guess what? They're doing just as well, perhaps better than the packet seed.  I read somewhere too, can't remember where, of someone that grew sunflowers and cucumbers together, and I'm hoping to do that (if my cucumber seeds germinate), as I can see that working really well.  

That's one for another day though - how's your growing month been?