Non-action and cherry tomatoes

We love growing tomatoes here as you know and we usually strictly adhere to staking the plants up with wire ties to a bamboo cane, taking out any sideshoots and of course stopping the plants (by nipping out the top of the plant) after 4 or 5 trusses.

Well we usually do, but we had a self-seeded tomato plant at the bottom of the garden and we just left it to it’s own devices. It’s gone absolutely mad, it’s swamped out any weeds growing in the small corner bed it’s in, spilled out onto the path and if you look closely there’s a few cherry toms forming. Ain’t it great what happens when you stay out of the way!

Every kind of weather to make what August’s about, yeah

Well it’s been a weird few days, we’ve had a welcome bit of rain, then the sun returned back to “classic lockdown mode” and earlier today it was back to greyness. We’re confused, what month is it again? Well the sunflower’s out, it may not be of the giant variety but it’s great in that Fibonacci sequence style!

We did manage to do some gardening over the last few days. We dried out some of our broad beans earlier this year and we’ve stuck three small rows of them at the bottom of the garden. We don’t know if they’ll sprout but we gave it a go!

A few years ago we bought a dwarf blackberry/bramble bush and didn’t really have much luck with it and even moved it around a bit which probably don’t help matters. The last year or so we’ve left it in its present position and now it’s starting to fruit. There isn’t much there but a few blackberries are better than none!

In front of that dwarf bramble are the raised beds that we put together around the start of lockdown. In them next to the tomatoes and spuds there’s some pepper plants with fruit on them. They are out of the way and water is of the sparse variety unless we remember. We’ve given them some regular doses of comfrey liquid and a few of peppers on the plants are starting to get a little larger.

Just next to those peppers out of view is a cabbage that has been beheaded by them pesky pigeons. You win some you lose some. Well at least we’ll be having some nicer weather (supposedly) this weekend.

A big shout to Gerry Hectic for alerting us to this great track below from King Knut called “Spellbound”. Very Dub Disco band for the love of money, dubbed out weirdness and old cassettes of the Rhythm Doctor on Fantasy FM in the early 90’s. It’s a nice tune!

And the question is…

It’s been lovely weatherwise this week and now it’s a Saturday, why has it decided to rain? To tell you the truth the ground is a bit dry so we could do with a bit of rain but as long as it clears up later we won’t hold it against mother nature too much. 

As for the garden we’re loving that we’re getting the first tomatoes ripening (above), the plant isn’t at its best looking as a few of its leaves have been taken off so the sun can reach them but as the great Bob Flowerdew says below at around the 4 minute mark “I don’t eat the plants.” A video worth watching.

Things are hotting up in the raised beds too even though plants are battling it out with each other (that reminds us we’d do a bit of a thin out of the veg there tomorrow as we’re sure there’s some carrots we can pull up.) We weren’t sure if the below was a chilli pepper at first but it now looks like it’s a pepper pepper (so to speak). We’ll be keeping up with the watering and the weekly feed of comfrey liquid as those beds tend to dry out well quickly.

And it’s only taken a day or so for the first courgette/zucchinni to show after its first flower. We chucked a bit of organic matter from the bottom of the compost heap around the plant and a good feed won’t go amiss either. Never mind the lockdown, keep on gardening! #gardeninginlockdown #londonlockdowngardening

And here’s a nice and chilled tune if you’re stuck indoors this morning from Adriak called Sandalo (original mix), it’s a tune to cheer you up if it’s dull outside. Eight and a half minutes of nice ambience with a lovely bassline.  #lockdownambience

About the weather (in June)

Weatherwise it hasn’t been the best week this week but tonight looks like it may be taking a turn for the better as we had a little bit of warmth and even a hint of the sun an hour ago. It was nice to be out there.

The raised beds (below) have been doing great, there’s all sorts of stuff in them, spuds, carrots, beetroot, cabbages, tomatoes and even peppers. Talk about square metre gardening and sticking in as much as possible! They’ve come on a long way since that first week of lockdown when the local shop had the 3 spuds per person rule that made us think that we must obtain some seed spuds and any packs of seeds we could get our hands on.Now we’re off the furlough we’re only spending the lunchhour and after work gardening and much of the big work was done when we were off. Once you get a good headstart on yourself, gardening gets a lot easier but it’s getting that start. We managed to keep the bed on the right hand side (below) a lot tidier than usual and even stuck in some tomatoes, cabbages and spuds amongst the flowers. The comfrey we use daily, pulling off massive handfuls to stick in the compost heap and for putting in holes before we transplant something. That keeps the comfrey under control as it can swamp everything if it gets its way!

Something we forgot to do on most of the tomatoes was to pinch out the sideshoots of the variety we have, so the plant can put all it’s goodness into the trusses on the main stem. We’ve been through all of the plants now and there was only one that had two stems but that doesn’t matter, we’ll keep it as “an tomato experiment”. More on sideshooting tomatoes here.

And talk about best laid plans and all that, this bed below was supposedly going to be rested this year and was going to be full of the Thompson and Morgan wildflower seed mix. Well we sowed them at the back with the borage and we’ll see what happens. Can we now have the sun back please? It is June.

And here’s a wonderful piece of music to welcome the sun back when it does finally return from the great Blundetto called Paseo. Tune!

Can’t wait, won’t wait, will try

Patience, that’s what you need when it comes to this gardening lark. Sadly we haven’t got any.

This week we took the dahlia tubers straight out from under the stairs (where they’ve been hibernating since late autumn) and into the ground even though there’s still a chance of frost. We also left a couple of them in the garden from last season as we couldn’t be bothered to dig them out. Why do we do these things when we know we shouldn’t?

We have got protection for them and the other plants that don’t do well when it comes to frosts though. There’s the seed potatoes under the black membrane that was used under the decking and lots of DIY plastic/wood contraptions (don’t throw out your jam jars!) over vegetable seedlings that are germinating so it ain’t that bad.

All the gardening books tell you to be aware of late frosts, they also tell you that runner beans seeds don’t like sitting in cold soils and “for god’s sake don’t put out your tomato plants out early as they’ll suffer if it gets cold” but we still do it (we’ve a couple of tomato seedlings in the ground at the moment we’re ashamed to say.) It goes like this, we see a period of lovely sunshine so the hoe is taken out from its winter hiding place and then it’s all systems go after that. We don’t think this lockdown has helped in holding back either.

Talking of lockdowns, there’s a new gardening-related game developing here. At least once a week on our (very) regular visits to the compost heap a gloved hand will be thrust into the mass of rotting vegetables, old ripped up leccy bills and single tea bags to “feel the heat”. That’s not normal behaviour is it? Early signs of “lockdown lunacy” perhaps?

Have a look in the box!

People tell you it’s all in the preparation and they’re right. Before you start planning and buying new seeds, see what you actually have in the seed tin already.

We took a look last night and suprisingly found stuff we didn’t think we had. There were some seeds left of the sunflowers (below) we were given as part of the seed trials from Thompson and Morgan. We’re not 100% sure on the variety but it may be the ‘Sunshot Golds Mixed’ (If anyone knows do give us a shout). We also found some Skyscraper Sunflower, Green Sprouting Calabrese, Tomatoes and Carrots. As the saying goes “it pays to have a butchers first”!

The trials of tomatoes (and squash and lettuce)

The Thompson and Morgan seed trials are sadly coming near the end, I mean look at the beefsteak tomatoes (above) that are now ripening on the plant and the few we took off today next to an AA battery to give some idea of scale. Whoppers they are and we’ll certainly be wanting to grow them again.

The lettuce that was growing in the shade of the broad bean ring around the birch tree has survived and is looking great. It’s either one or a collection of a few!

And the spaghetti squash has stayed this colour and size for a few weeks now. We have now idea of what they’re supposed to look like when they ripen or when they’re ready but we suspect the time is very close!

Thanks again to Thompson and Morgan for getting us in on the trials and we reckon they’ve been a success our end. We’d had a lot of suprises (the sunflowers and nasturtiums) so we can’t complain! It’s been fun!

In the beefsteaks of your mind

Oh my lord! The Thompson and Morgan seed trial tomatoes are as large as a medium sized eating apple in some cases and they are getting riper by the day. We’ve done the beef/beefsteak variety possibly only once before but with the results on the three plants we’ve got we’ll certainly be doing some more. It was just a case of regular watering and a comfrey feed once a week if we remembered, nowt else. And look at the results!

More trials

Here’s a quick visual update on the Thompson & Morgan seed trials. The tomatoes are looking more like beefsteak ones every day and look at the size of them!

The sunflowers are also doing well too! We love the surprises we’ve had with the trials and it shouldn’t be too long now before we’re informed about the actuals names/varieties of the plants. We’re still waiting on the spaghetti squash to ripen and we’ve a couple of lettuces on the way too. We love the trails we do!