Sunday, 13 May 2018



As cold winds continue to delay a decent spring day, plants grown under glass and now needing to harden off are having to be patient. The hardier types such as chrysanthemums and geraniums have been out for a few weeks, but threats of overnight frosts meant they had to be brought back inside for protection. The same applied to rooted fuchsia
Erica gives John a hand with the watering
cuttings now a decent size and some starting to flower, but they are too young and soft to be hardy. Cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts were all raised under glass and are now hardened off and ready to plant out. Kale never seems to be affected by clubroot disease but all the other brassicas are, so I now only grow the resistant varieties, so my cabbages are Kilaton, cauliflowers are Clapton and Brussels sprouts are Crispus.

I grow these brassicas under the best conditions as I need perfect germination as you only get 20 seeds in each packet so no room failures. Last year I tried the clubroot resistant swede Invitation, but the roots were small and tough so not worth growing.
Geranium from autumn cutting
Spring onions are always started in the greenhouse in cellular trays as outdoors the germination is very poor. They grow better in decent compost then once they have put on some growth they get hardened off and planted out on the plot a couple of weeks later.
Although my main batch of geraniums are now hardened off and put outdoors, I have taken all the tips out as another batch of cuttings. They will be kept in the greenhouse a few weeks till they root and begin to grow, then get potted up, and after another couple of weeks in the greenhouse, they are ready to go outdoors.
Overwintered chrysanthemum stools put on plenty of growth giving me nearly one hundred cuttings. They root very easy and are fairly tough so they are now outdoors and ready to put into final pots. The old stools still had plenty of green shoots so they have been planted in a border.
Young Fuchsia plant
Outdoor Fuchsias taken as cuttings last autumn have all rooted and been potted up. They grow so well that some are now beginning to flower so they have all been hardened off.
Sweet corn seedlings had also been potted up, then after a fortnight put outdoors to harden off.
Tuberous begonias are always slow to grow so they remain in the greenhouse. As there is no room left on my tomato border the begonias can sit happily under my row of grape vines. Once I see all the begonia shoots they will get replanted into bigger boxes with more space. They are usually the last to get hardened off probably by the end of the month.
Grape shoots with wee bunches
The grape vines have now all got plenty of young shoots growing. Let them put on a fair bit of growth, but once you can see plenty of grape bunches, it is time to start the pruning. Any shoots that have no bunches on them can be removed or if there is plenty of space cut back to one or two leaves, which can be removed later. If any shoots have two bunches remove the weakest otherwise grape size will be reduced if you ask the vine to produce too many grapes. As shoot growth continues it will need controlling so cut back all shoots to two leaves after each bunch of grapes.
Tomatoes are all growing strongly in their final pots before planting out, but as yet at the beginning of May I do not see any truss with that first flower, so no planting out yet. However the chances are that by the time you read this they will all be happily set out into permanent positions in my well prepared tomato border.
Although we seem to get plagued by cold winds, the greenhouse temperatures can rise dramatically on sunny days so keep the ventilators open wide as long as possible, only closing them at night while clear skies run the risk of an over night frost. Condensation builds up over night but soon clears when ventilation begins in the morning.
Removing flowers from rhubarb plants

Wee jobs to do this week
Rhubarb is now throwing up flowering shoots. Remove them with a knife down to a large leaf, as
the plant needs to save its energy to produce plenty stalks over the summer. They are heavy feeders so give them a feed and keep the plants well watered. They benefit from a mulch of compost but keep it off the crowns. The first light picking will be done this month.

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