The Tomato Diaries #2

I sowed these tomatoes on 13 March – 1 x ‘Yellow Delight’ and 7 x ‘Gardener’s Delight’ survived and on 20 May, I finally got round to putting them in larger (though not their final) pots. The two not in shot are tiny compared to these – and the tallest of these is only 6-7 inches.

Continue reading “The Tomato Diaries #2”

Monthly Roundup: April 2021

Raised Bed preparation

Raised Bed A

I tackled this bed mid-month, hoping that we’d seen the last of frosty nights! The first thing was to clear away all the daffodil and narcissi pots to give access. Second – the temporary removal of the arch. Third, remove everything else and prune the fuchsia cuttings along the wall.

I rescued as many brassica leaves as I could (for our evening meal), then dug everything out, apart from the purple sprouting broccoli. I weeded, hoed to brake up the crust on the soil surface; added loads of chicken manure pellets; added the compost from five growing bags (my failed experiment to grow salad crops over winter), and raked and hoed everything again.

I’ve used a row of bricks to separate the fuchsias from the veg bed, added a ‘fleece’ layer (to start warming the soil) topped of with upturned hanging baskets to discourage cat activity, and replaced the arch in a new position – at the front of the bed where it will – hopefully – allow easier access to peas and beans (and provide some much needed shade while we have our morning coffee – once the beans have grown). All in all, a good morning’s work.

Continue reading “Monthly Roundup: April 2021”

Sowing and Growing a Winter Harvest (5)

I am re-thinking my plan to use the potato growing bags for salad crops, since the slimy ones decimated the plants I’ve already sown – radish, parsley and most of the mizuna mix. Even after the eggshells went down.

Continue reading “Sowing and Growing a Winter Harvest (5)”

Weekend Workout

The saga of the logs continued for much of Saturday.

We found another supplier and sent a message, yes he could deliver to our area, ring his wife to make arrangements. We rang, and the wife said NO! Not delivering to our area.

So I moved onto the next one on the list and was waiting for a response when someone from our own village (who we had called last week and said he couldn’t deliver until next month) rang to see if we still wanted some and he’d be there in 30 minutes. We said yes.

This was at 5 pm, and it was still raining. But we have waterproofs so got togged up with boots and gloves at the ready.

Twenty minutes later, a tractor drove onto our drive and dumped logs from a bucket on the front. Hubby filled the wheelbarrow and brought them in the back, while I stacked them inside the log store (they have been seasoned and kept under cover so didn’t want them to get wet). We’d finished by six.

Sunday morning – still raining, but not as heavy – and I;ve persuaded my husband to fix a cross beam in the Tiny Greenhouse and add some screw-in eyes for hanging baskets.

For now I’ve moved the two lettuce baskets inside so I can hang the bird feeders in their place. There are still enough leaves for a few more salads.

Sowing for a Winter Harvest (4)


Mindful of the time it takes for seeds to germinate and develop into plants large enough to plant into the bags of compost waiting in the wings of the Tiny Greenhouse, I made a start on 22 August.

A point to note is the inclusion of coloured clothespegs to hold the plant labels. This guarantees means that even if the labels fade in the sun or through watering – and provided the clothespeg stays in the pot – I will know that the blue signify Parsley, the purple are American Land Cress, the white are Mizuna, and the pink are coriander.

After just three days – the Mizuna has sprouted.
2nd September – Mizuna growing well and an American Land Cress shoot has appeared.
8 September 2020


I ordered lots of herb and salad seeds.

  • Amaranthus – The leaves turn intense red as they develop – giving added colour in salads. It is more vigorous than the green type. Use the leaves individually or pick as sprigs
  • Cress – plain
  • Misticanza misculglio – Mixed Italian salad of chicories including red radicchio. This mixture contains no lettuce and is ideal as a perennial mixture for cut and come again. Red radicchio can be left over winter to head up or blanched for tender pink leaves. Green varieties can be left to grow on.
  • Mixed oriental leaves – This mixture contains : Mibuna (17%), Mustard Red Giant (16%) , Pak choi shanghai (17%), Komatsuma Tender green (17%), Mizuna (17%) , Chinese Cabbage Wonk Bok (16%)
  • Mixed spicy leaf – This salad leaf mixture contains : Rocket (25%) , Mizuna (25%) , Mustard Giant Red (25%) , Mustard Southern Giant (25%) 
  • Mustard Red Frills – Mustard Red Frills produces superb deep red and green shoots with a mild fiery mustard flavour that is easy to grow and fast growing.
  • Pea Serge (for shoots) – Tender cripsy shoots and tendrils of young pea plants make a wonderful edible garnish and a perfect snack. Ideal replacement for Samish (a variety of spinach).
  • Radish Red Rioja – Radish Red Rioja produces large purple red cotyledons, (first leaves) which will always show a small proportion of green seedlings. This variety is very popular for its colour and makes for a fantastic and colourful addition to salad.
  • Sorrel – red veined – Sorrel is a perennial plant with a sharp lemon flavour, one of the last to die salad leaves to die down for winter and one of the first to appear in spring.
  • Spinach Red Kitten F1 – with its attractive red stem and oriental shaped leaf, this salad leaf is very sweet in flavour.


On 25 August, despite gales and torrential rain, I escaped to the potting shed for more seed sowing.

  • Chinese Kale x 3 pots
  • Chives x 2 pots
  • Radish French Breakfast x 1 pot
  • Radish Spanish Black Round x 1 pot
  • Spring Onion White Lisbon x 2 pots

A week later and both radish were growing well, with the Chinese Kale not far behind.

Chinese Kale 1 September 2020
8 September 2020


8 September

Time for the next round of seed sowing

8 September 2020


In the Tiny Greenhouse, the Claytonia (Winter Purslane/Miner’s Lettuce) I sowed on 9 August, has its first true leaves and will soon be large enough to plant.

12 September

Time to plant up some bags.

Bag #1: Radish Spanish Black x 1, Mizuna Mix x 2
Bag #2: Radish French Breakfast x 1, Mizuna Mix x 2
Bag #3 (bottom right): Claytonia x 2, Parsley x 3. Bag #4 (bottom left): Parsley x 3

I look forward to eating the results in a few weeks. Should there be any sign of slugs and snails, I have a supply of crushed eggshells at the ready.

13 September

This morning, I sowed another pot each of Radish French Breakfast and Black Spanish Round. Then four pots of Mustard Red Frills. It may be that this is something that should be direct sown into the bags to mingle with other leaves, or when I plant the seedlings into a bag, I also sow seeds in the gaps.

As you can see, the pot of spring onions and the two pots of chives sown on 25 August are still quite small. I expect the mustard will be ready to plant before them.

Insulating the Greenhouse (3)

With plenty of seedling growing in the potting shed, and hundreds thousands of salad leaf seeds to sow, I was determined to get the salvaged bubble-wrap pinned to the inside of the greenhouse. I used drawing pins – easy to remove and minimal damage to the wood.

The bubble-wrap originally protected the polycarbonate sheets while in transit.

Bubble wrap can’t be recycled or burned so it would have ended up in landfill. As it is estimated that it takes 500+ years to decompose, that is not something I’m comfortable doing until I have re-used and re-purposed it many, many times.


Additional Heating

I’ve been looking at possible ways to warm the greenhouse – and protect my salad leaves – when the temperature hits zero or below. Preferably at low or no cost.

There is power point nearby for electic heaters and I have bad memories of smelly, smoky parafin heaters.

I found information on the internet about using candles to heat nested terracotta pots; the idea being that instead of the heat from the candle rising up, the pots (linked with a steel bolt suspended on nuts and washers) will warm up and – similar to storage heaters – will retain and then release heat.

The cheapest version is a Cornish Heater.

Do they work? Some say they do (for a small space), others say not.

And you should never leave lit candles unattended.

I’ll stick with garden fleece, and maybe tuck them up with a hot-water bottle or two on the coldest nights.

Preparing the Greenhouse for Winter Crops (1)

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Though it is still officially Summer until 22 September 2020, thoughts turn to which crops I can sow and grow in the greenhouse to eat through Autumn and into Winter. I’ve not had that option previously as we only built the greenhouse in March. 

Continue reading “Preparing the Greenhouse for Winter Crops (1)”

Compost Corner: Recycle/Re-use spent compost

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After the mad dash in Spring to buy in bags of compost for my vegetables (the Allotment being out-of-bounds due to Covid19 travel restrictions and self-isolating measures), and with the potato harvest well underway, I will eventually be left with fifteen bags/containers of spent compost. Continue reading “Compost Corner: Recycle/Re-use spent compost”