Zucchini and I

Paul's courgetteIt’s all gone a bit courgette-centric around here at the moment. A big shout to our good mate Paul W for sharing with us a pic of his first ever courgette (above). It was grown in a raised bed from a plant bought outside Charlton train station in May this year on his way home from work (four plants for two quid, a bargain or what?) Great stuff Paul! weeds courgettesOur courgettes are doing are doing well too (above) not bad from a packet of seeds from the seed swap earlier this year.

Last weekend another good mate was telling me that the two things on his allotment that never fail are courgettes and beetroot which incidentally are two great crops for someone who fancies starting out gardening. As long as you give them enough water and a feed every now and again you’ll get good results. In the case of courgettes, keep picking them when they are young (and watch they don’t turn into a marrow-like affairs) and you’re onto a winner. Don’t blame me though if you get a glut of the things though!

On the subject of gluts, anyone out there have any good recipes for courgettes? Send them to onedeckpete (a) gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.

On a bargain tip!

courgettes on a bargain tipBig shout to our good friend Paul W who on his way home from work tonight, bought four courgette plants for £2 (that’s 50p each!) from a plant sale outside Charlton Station. How good is that?

If you are buying plants now, do make sure they have been “hardened off” and can go straight out into the garden. The plants may have been started off indoors/under glass and won’t be used to the ever changing weather outside and there’s always a risk of frost that might knock them for six too!

So just to make sure, leave the plants outside during the nice days and take them in at night so that seedlings become accustomed to the strong sunlight and varying weather so toughening them up a bit. Then in a few days they can be planted outside and if you’re still in doubt that there may be frost about, wrap some horticultural fleece (net curtains or newspapers) around them at night.

Also watch out for those slugs and snails, as they love those young plants too!

So keep em peeled (for cheap plant sales and the slugs and snails) as Shaw Taylor (RIP) used to say!

Woop-woop! That’s the sound of da fleece!

fleeceI popped into Shannon’s yesterday and grabbed a big roll of horticultural fleece for around £6, which will come in well handy over the next few weeks. Some of my tomato plants were started off well early (there’s even a couple with flowers on them!) so after a couple of weeks in the mini-plastic greenhouse I’ve recently put them outside. On the nights I now cover them over with fleece. If you want to do it cheaper you can always use old net curtains or as Joe said, some sheets of newspaper draped over the plants.

I was listening to a recent Gardening with Tim & Joe on BBC Leed’s and Mr Maiden was saying even though some shops have tomato plants for sale, it still doesn’t mean that it’s safe to stick them outside as there still could be a frost for a good few weeks yet. And also chatting at Shannon’s yesterday I was told it’s not just frost you need protection from but also damage from cold winds and rain.

I also treated myself to a couple of Courgette plants as the seeds I sown haven’t amounted to much. You really don’t need more than a couple of courgette plants as you’ll be overwhelmed with the bloody things come autumn!Courgette_2

If you go down to the worms today…

The worm bucket’s been sitting at the bottom of the garden for nearly four months now. I’ve been visiting it on a regular basis, opening the lid away from me to stop getting a mouthful of fruit flies (thanks for the tip, Scarlett!) and putting in my kitchen waste as and when. There’s slugs and mouldy bread on the top but at the bottom is the beginnings of some nice old rich worm compost and more worm liquid in the bucket below. That’s great you know, as all you have to do is pop down once a week and wait, no money’s involved, how good is that?

The rest of the garden is starting to perk up now. The weather has been a bit of a pain of late with only the odd dry hour here and there you can work in. The other week I was fed up as a mate at Tai Chi had been telling us how well his garden was doing (a lot better then mine was!) so I went out and got a bottle of Miracle-Gro in despair (as the worm and the comfrey liquid still need a bit more time) and an evening it weren’t raining I gave the garden a good feed. Now there’s flowers on the the Tomatoes where there weren’t (see “where’s the buds bud?”), there’s even a couple of Courgettes forming, and the third attempt of the heap is looking a bit colourful too. I’m sure If I’d waited, it all would have happened naturally but sometimes I get very impatient! What difference a week makes eh?

Lazy wednesday afternoon

I’m off work this week as it’s the kid’s half term and spending a bit of time doing some DIY on the house. I started early on the painting this morning so I could treat myself to a bit of gardening if the weather perked up in the afternoon, which it did!

Between the April showers I “tipped about” with the hoe, cut the grass and sowed some courgettes and french climbing beans “under cover” aka a jam jar and having ran out of plastic seed labels improvised with a bit of wooden moulding (found in the street last week) and a saw!

I even had to raise the glass on the cold frame made out of the old window as the super early spuds are tearing away. It’s not ideal so I’ll be wrapping them up in fleece while the threat of frost is about and move the frame elsewhere. It’s certainly working well for the spuds and the biodynamic malarky seems to be helping too!

Everything is starting to take off now what with the combination of the sunshine and the showers. The raised bed made out of the scaffolding boards has been filled with plants and in front of that is the salad bed and the seeds sown there are starting to germinate. I ran out of fence protector so need to purchase another couple of tins and the second raised bed needs filling too. This gardening lark, it’s never ending!

On a flowerdew tip

As it was a cracking day today I spent the afternoon in the garden getting a few jobs out of the way. Earlier in the week I drew a rough plan of what is going where in the garden, and today dug a trench where the climbing french beans will be planted and added a few buckets of nearly ready compost (from bin number two) combined with some kitchen peelings and filled the top layer with soil (to keep any pests and rodents away) thus making a compost trench. By the time the beans go in, the stuff will have rotted down and enriched the soil which will help the plants as they grow. I’ve even put the canes in place which seems a bit previous, especially as it’s only February but I’ve a terrible memory sometimes…

I am always on the lookout on my travels for bits and pieces that are to be thrown out that’ll work well in the garden. A few weeks ago I saw on the way home from work on a wall a chunky window frame with a note on it with “please take me” which today was converted (with the addition of a couple of broken paving slabs) into a cold frame which will house a courgette seedling later in the spring. As with the beans I dug a compost trench below that the courgette will thrive on. The frame still needs some additional work on it to stop heat escaping but it’s a start. Keep em peeled you never know what you’ll find!