Sunday 13 May 2012

The Waiting game

Waiting is definitely the order of the day for gardeners in the UK at present. We are waiting for Spring - perhaps even for Summer. The early part of 2012 has seen some very odd weather patterns: the warmest March for ages; the wettest April since records began, and now the prospect of the coldest May ever. In common with many other gardeners I have space in my plot which would normally be full of vegetable plants, but this year is not:

Two of my raised beds are to all intents and purposes empty. One has just 3 lettuces left in it; the other has one solitary Broccoli plant. In normal circumstances these would have been discarded by now to make room for new things, but this year they have been allowed to remain, since I dare not plant out the things I have waiting to replace them. It's just too cold and wet.

This is the last of my Swiss Chard, optimistically removed a couple of days ago to make room for the Three Sisters.

In the mini-greenhouses the Sweet Corn element of the Three Sisters languishes, constricted in its tiny 3" pots. I had hoped to get this in the ground at least 3 weeks ago, perhaps a month:

Next door to them are some of the Chillis. OK they won't go into a raised bed, but I would like to put them into the big 12" pots which are earmarked for them, but if I did I would only have room to keep a few of them under cover. The rest would be exposed to the elements - which they would certainly not enjoy!

My Runner Beans took ages to germinate, even though I had them in pots in the garage. Since then they have grown slowly and I would say "unenthusiastically". I haven't yet erected the support system I will be using for them. It seems premature.

I have four pots of Runners waiting to go in. These ones are "Scarlet Empire", a new variety said to be an even better version of the old favourite "Scarlet Emperor". My others are "Red Rum", a variety I have grown successfully several times before.

The Tomato plants that got frosted the other day look as if they will pull through all right. I had already arranged them into Team A and Team B, so to speak, choosing the best ones to plant out and the weaker ones to discard, and it is very obvious that the stronger A team ones have coped better with the frosting ordeal. Compare the two following photos to see what I mean.

The Team A ones are looking quite lush now, and are beginning to outgrow their pots again. They really need to be planted out into their big containers as soon as possible. Maybe next weekend??

Team A

The Team B ones are not looking good - some of them lost almost all their leaves - but at least they are all alive still.

Team B

Still "confined to barracks" on a windowsill are my Aubergine plants. I'm only planning on growing two of these since I'm not convinced that either they will produce any fruit, or that if they do I will like them, but in my usual way I have four plants, so I will be able to choose the best / strongest ones. I know that Aubergines need as much warmth as they can get, so there is no way they are going outside just yet.

Ironically, since I started putting this post together a couple of days ago, the weather has improved a bit and we have had a bit of sunshine and the daytime temperatures have been in the mid teens. Woohoo!


  1. Our tomato plants are in team C!

  2. I put three tomato plants outdoors yesterday (gasp) but they are well protected - I really am running out of space in the greenhouse and sick of shuffling everything round.

  3. Your photos looks great. It's true what you said, that everything is taking longer to grow this year. However, I'm very pleased my runner beans and courgettes are germinating now. I took some photos of my seedlings here

  4. I wish I could send you my hot day. We got to 87F (maybe 31C) today. I was really hoping the weathermen were right at about 5C less, but no such luck. Way too hot for my spring veggies. I think they all might bolt at any minute. The rest of the week looks nice though. Around 20C for most of the week. Perfect for the spring veggies. And maybe hot enough to get the beans germinated.

  5. Your Team A tomatoes look really well, very strong. My tomatoes are less than two inches tall, but my own fault for planting seeds in April. Your chilies look nice and strong as well! I decided not to grow chilies this year. I'm trying something new this year - aubergine.

  6. They all look like they're waiting for the starter's gun Mark...and whoosh...they'll be away!
    I hate to wait for things but isn't there a saying that "all good things come to those who wait"?
    Fingers crossed for ideal conditions and bumper crops :D

  7. Hi Mark, I hope it warms up for you soon! My garden will be in late purely do to logistics of moving/house renovations, etc. sigh. Your team A tomatoes look incredible! They will take off like gangbusters when they're able to get in your raised beds. Cheers, Jenni

  8. You have my sympathies - May seems really cold here too - forecast top today is 15 which for us wimps is cold! At least your tomatoes are looking good!

  9. Here in the subtropics things are just getting going as well, but for the opposite reason. Winter is our best weather for growing vegies. Temps from zero to the mid 20s and lots of sunshine.

  10. I have a similar thing going on in my greenhouse. I will, from now on, refer to them as team a and team b. I like it.

  11. If this weather continues much longer we're all going to be harvesting everything very late in the year. My seedlings just don't seem to want to grow, everything is so much further behind than usual.

  12. Sometimes I think that I could never live where it is that cold again but I know better, you just adjust. Your tomatoes look like they are going to pull through to me. As for aubergines (eggplant, right?), they grow great here and I would love to grow some again but Phil ate some one year (I fried them like--fries and we dipped them in spaghetti sauce and they were so good) but Phil had a touch of some stomach bug afterwards and swears it was the eggplant so now won't eat them :(
    Raining and dreary here today. We need the rain but I am not looking forward to going out.

  13. I hope it dries out for you! The seedlings are looking good!

  14. Contrary to your situation, here it is so hot that all the plants in my containers need to be watered twice to avoid wilting. Only my pepper plant seems to be happy Producing his tiny white flowers. It looks like the monsoon is slowly arriving since it rained every evening for 3 days straight but I can't really be sure.


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