Sunday, 4 August 2013

Size Matters...

...in the vegetable world, that is.

Look at this bad boy!
Things are looking up on the vegetable front at Casa VK thanks to lots of watering during the recent hot spell (hope it comes back soon) and general nurturing.

Earlier this year, we were given some bricks and Husband decided to build a raised bed in our backyard to give an otherwise crappy piece of concrete a make-over. I straight away knew what I was going to plant in it: sweet peas and cucumbers. Sweet peas because in my book they're value for money flowers that look brilliant growing up a wigwam and smell gorgeous; cucumbers because they're Monkeychild's favourite veg. So, here's how the bed currently looks:


I originally planted four cucumber plants that I raised from seed just in case a plant or two didn't survive, but they've all flourished; the willow fencing also makes an ideal support for them. In fact, they're so vigorous that they're starting to take over the adjacent sweet pea wigwam. At last count I had eight cucumbers of various sizes coming along nicely, so hopefully I'll be able to strike these off my shopping list for the next few weeks.

Answers on a postcard to...
I also sowed the sweet peas from seed too, using some random seeds that I had in my seed-stock and new ones from Sarah Raven. Some people say to soak the hard seeds before sowing to speed up germination, but I prefer to slice a bit of the hard shell from the pea seed and then place it into watered compost. This always works for me, although I did get a few that didn't germinate. As I'm also a thrifty gardener (and I think most gardeners are), I use loo rolls to sow sweet pea seeds in instead of forking out (gardening joke there, see?!) for specialist root-trainer pots, as rooted sweet peas hate any disturbance and you can plant out the seedlings in their protective loo rolls without disturbing the delicate roots.


Whilst I'm on the subject of thriftiness, I'm a big fan of growing plants in other containers, not just pots. I have a collection of old enamel bread bins, zinc bath-tubs and tins that are great for growing all sorts of veg and flower plants:





The pink trug in the above photo was a freebie; it was left out on the side of the road with a 'Free Please Take' sign, so I did as instructed! It was originally just bare wood, but I thought a shot of pink would jazz it up. By the way, you can just about make out my camp gnome in the corner; here's another shot of him in all his glory!


I have a soft spot for gnomes and have a few dotted about the garden. Hmmm, I can feel a post dedicated to gnomes coming up in the future.

Back to the plants, I used Franchi 'Marketmore' cucumber seeds this year; I'm a big fan of Franchi seeds as they've always germinated well and I reckon that they're good value for money; they have some wonderful varieties available too. I'm onto my third sowing of peas this season (they're growing in the bread bin!) and have stuck with Suttons' 'Kelvedon Wonder'. I had such great results from this variety last year that I've decided to stick with it.

Do you any any favourite plant varieties that you stick to year in year out?




19 comments :

  1. Your garden looks very pretty. I wish I can grow Sweetpeas, the slugs get them before me! The answer must be a raised bed.
    Julie xxxxx

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    1. Thanks Julie. Funnily enough, sweet peas always seem to grow for me. Now, celeriac and pak choi on the other hand are always a disaster.

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  2. Yes I love the Franchi seeds too have lots of mixed leaves/ lettices and herb seeds not seen cucumber thought.... they have 1000's of seeds in very good value...
    My cucumbers are doing really well too with all the sun.
    As for my sweetpeas... germinated okay ( thanks for the tip) but most sadly got eaten by slugs. I've just planted out my Zinnas that are flowering and doing well!
    My favourite 4 to grow are marketmore, gardener's delight, Crown prince squash and Trompette courgette every year all really good doers
    Cx

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    1. Thanks for your comment C :-) I tried zinnias this year but they got eaten by slugs; that was a shame because they're lovely cut flowers. My courgettes aren't doing too well either, out of four plants I've only got two courgettes, so I hope they grow to a ripe age and don't wither.

      P.S. I checked out my local garden centre today and they had a 50% sale on Franchi seeds, so I've stocked up for next year!

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  3. Your garden is gorgeous, I'm looking at my enamel bread bin in a new light now! Although sweet peas grow wild in our garden I'm not so lucky with cucumbers, I've one left and it's looking increasingly sickly. Fingers crossed the toms fare better! xxx

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  4. Ahhh, lovely. I can smell the delicious sweet peas from here... x

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    1. Ooh yes, they are THE summer flower...although Monkeychild keeps raiding the wigwam intent on making posies! Save some for me!

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  5. Our cucumber plants are taking over the greenhouse now! Sweet peas are one of my favourite flowers.
    Love from Mum
    xx

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    1. Uh-oh...taking over the greenhouse - you're sure you're not growing triffids there, Mum?
      ;-)

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  6. I will have a go at your sweetpea idea next year yours are lovely, when do you start them off? Never heard of Franchi seeds will do a search.

    Re rubber bung, this did make me smile, it fits in the top of the bottle to stop leakage someone had pushed it inside.
    Cate x

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    1. Hi Cate, I started my sweet peas off in April growing them under cover; this always seems to work for me. Otherwise, if I plant the seeds in the ground, the young plants get munched by slugs.

      Thanks for the bung answer! ;-)

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  7. Love all your alternative planting containers, especially the zinc bath.

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    1. Thanks Jo, BTW - the bath was left at our house when we brought it, so that was lucky!

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  8. Ypur garden is gorgeous and I do love an 'alternative' planter. I've got geraniums in my old enamel mop bucket and very nifty it is too! I love all your blowsy blooms and your camp gnome. Yes...do a gnome post.
    xxxx

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    1. Blowsy blooms...I love the sound of that. Okay - gnome post - you're on!

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  9. Goodness your garden's looking great, I love all those containers and those beautiful sweat peas, they are my favourite flowers but I have no luck growing them, they clearly don't like me as much as I like them :) I know I am going to sound like a div, but I had no idea you could grow cucumbers outside, I was convinced they had to be faffed about with in green houses, I think Ill have a crack at them next year! xx

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