02 July 2015

A greenhouse perambulation

There are six raised beds in our greenhouse and at this time of year they're all in use for various crops. I love going in there and checking on progress, tidying things up and pulling weeds or overgrown lettuces. There are a lot of the latter: I let some of last year's lettuce go to seed and lots of it came up in the spring, in addition to what I sowed myself. Luckily the chickens adore it, overgrown or not, so it doesn't go to waste.

Bed 1 is the first one we built. This year it is full of a range of heirloom tomato plants, with some basil and the inevitable lettuce plant (I'll save the seeds from the two dark red ones you can see in the front here). Most other years I've had problems with blossom end rot on the big tomatoes, but so far so good this year. I put a good layer of chicken manure in this bed before planting it, so maybe that has helped.

Bed 2, the next one along, houses a huge sage bush and some more basil and lettuce (out of shot here). There are three okra plants in this bed - they are only just getting growing properly now, after a cool start to the season. They really need the protection of the greenhouse to put on growth, but they should take off in the next few weeks. There is already one pod forming on the biggest plant - although I managed to miss seeing the flower open! Behind them are a few late tomato plants (sown after I lost the outside ones to the late May frost). The white flower is a cilantro/coriander plant. They are great for attracting pollinators.

Bed 3 was my brassica nursery bed and I left a couple of kale plants in there for an earlier crop - they're producing lots of leaves already, while the ones I transplanted outside are about half this size. Behind the kale are lentils - my first year of successfully growing these (the rabbits got them last year when I sowed them outside!). In the rest of this bed I replaced the transplanted brassicas with beets and some carrots. They are being bothered by a nest of ants, so I've transplanted some sage into the bed, because ants aren't supposed to like it. Doesn't seem to be having any effect so far, though!

Bed 4 was my pea, parsnip and lettuce bed. The peas (Green Arrow and Little Marvel, with Oregon Sugar Snap at the back) are going over now, but I'll keep some to save as seed. I'm slowly pulling up the lettuce for the chickens and in the centre of this bed are my eggplants. Like the okra, they've been slowed up by the cool weather we've been having, but this week they've started to put on more growth and I'm hopeful they'll produce a good crop. It'll help when I pull out the peas which have been shading them, too. I've got three eggplant varieties this year: Applegreen, Korean Early Long and Rosa Bianca. They are all from Baker Creek, although they don't seem to do the Korean Early Long variety any more. These were from a 2012 seed packet, mind you!

Bed 5 is mainly peppers, with some carrots, beets, chard, later-sown tomatoes and already-going-to-seed spinach (I'll save that, too). This bed was also full of self-sown dill and I've been steadily pulling that out to avoid having the same problem next year! Most of the peppers are doing fine - I've put tomato cages round them to give them a bit of extra support before the fruit start coming. I find tomato cages good for peas and cucumbers, too. Note that I use stakes for the actual tomatoes!

A few of the peppers are very pale and a bit small - I'm not sure if this is a defect of the variety (I have failed to label them, as usual!) or a defect of their soil. Since they are all growing in the same place, it would be odd if that were the case, but I'll have to wait for the fruit to form to see if it's the variety that's the problem.

Bed 6 was only supposed to be melons and cucumbers, but the self-sown lettuce took over in here - even growing on the floor! There's still quite a lot of dill in this bed, too.

I haven't grown watermelons before and I didn't realise how huge the plants get. I pulled the cart up to support this one melon, but it's already grown through the end of the cart. I think it's going to take over the whole greenhouse!


Lisa from Iroquois said...

Every year I hear different explanations for blossom end rot. This year the story seems to be lack of calcium so perhaps if you sprinkle some crushed egg shells around the plants and/or work it into the soil? I toss a handful into every hole before I transplant my plants and never (touch wood) seem to have the blossom end problem that some folks do.

Love your greenhouse as back up to the outdoor garden. Will you be able to bring your late tomatoes through to fully ripe fruit with the protection of the green house? How are your gooseberries doing this year? I am already noticing some fruit on the ground around my plants and that makes it almost 3 weeks earlier than last year.

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

What a healthy edible garden! I'm impressed with the size of your kale. Any recipe recommendations? We've enjoyed it in potato soup and as kale chips.

Margaret said...

You are really making great use of your greenhouse! Just the other day I was wondering what other legumes we could grow that are not normally grown around here and lentils came to mind (I LOVE lentils!). Is this the first time you are growing them?

I was also wondering about how you grow tomatoes in the greenhouse over the summer - even if the doors/windows are open, wouldn't it get too hot under the plastic/glass? Sometimes it seems to get too hot even in the open air!

Amanda said...

Morning all!

Yes, I've heard that about calcium, too Lisa. It only seems to affect the greenhouse tomatoes, so I tend to think it's more to do with water (as they rely on being watered). Maybe the chicken manure is helping retain water (or perhaps it's high in calcium - who knows!). I'm not sure if the late-sown tomatoes will get ripe, but we might be lucky if the frosts hold off until November! I picked my gooseberries last weekend and they're in the freezer.

Beth, I love kale in soups, curries, quiches, omelettes (here are a few of my 5:2 recipes which feature it!). And kale chips were a revelation!

Hi Margaret - yes, this is my first time of growing lentils. I suspect harvesting them is going to be a bit of a pain, but we will see! I've not had a problem with the tomatoes getting too hot in the greenhouse - I think the main threat to them is humidity (leading to blight) or very hot nights (above 24C - which can cause blossoms to drop). They are tropical plants, after all! I'm careful to pinch out the side shoots so that they don't get too bushy, which reduces the risk from humidity.

Susie said...

I had blossom end rot with tomatoes and zucchini a couple of years ago - also in the greenhouse, so I agree it's something about inconsistent watering (I never really learned as some plants had it, some didn't). What a fabulous greenhouse. I have a much smaller one and have already experience blossom drop on one plant (it wasn't as healthy as the rest).

Anonymous said...

Just a quick suggestion for your bunny problem: we were having deer issues so put up a 7' black plastic fence [Canadian Tire], and it keeps everything out but the pocket gophers! Now if we could figure that one out, we'd be laughing! Thanks for the info about threshing lentils too.