Tag Archives: grow bags

Willow cottage gardeners are pleased to annouce the arrival of our first red tomato!

This rainy weather has been upsetting the greenhouse. We are finding that this year growth seems to be slow and spindly. Despite this we are pleased to announce the arrival of our first red tomato!

This is a plum variety called Roma. We are very proud parents and hope to have many more to follow this one.

The greenhouse looks very different to this time last year.

I feel that I am still waiting for it to grow. The tomato plants are covered in flowers but look very ‘thin’ despite a weekly feed. Any suggestions from fellow gardeners on why this is?

Maybe it is these ‘organic’ grow bags, or the cool temperatures or something else.

I am sad to say that my cucumbers died. They were looking so good and then they were attacked by black fly. I thought I would spray them with some soap mix. I must have mixed it up too strong as the next day they were past recovery. I have managed to source a couple more plants that I will put in and watch what happens. It is sad to see empty grow bag space…

Her x

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Flowering strawberry plants

My strawberry plants are covered with flowers. As they grow in grow bags, I have made sure I have watered them through the warm spell we have recently had. They look well and promise a bumper harvest. I planted at least six varieties last year, hoping to spread the glut. The most unusual is a variety with red flowers. I think it is called Tapan.  Can anyone confirm that?

Last year they were just settling in so didn’t produce much. They seem happy enough in grow bags. I added a mulch of homemade compost in spring and a layer of straw to keep them clean. I am hoping that, as this is their second summer, these plants will crop well.

I hope I have so many strawberries that I can make jam – that is if they survive the kids!

Her x

Garden and greenhouse update – we have lift-off

The warm weather is doing wonders for the vegetable garden. Everything seemed to be holding back over the last few weeks and it has now sprinted forward to put on lots of new growth.

We have chilli plants  and peppers up on the bench; aubergines and cape gooseberries in pots down the middle; and pumpkin and butternut squash plants getting ahead start in the huge containers.

The tin baths are onto their second lettuce crop and I have also snuck in a few more tomato plants – Sweet Million variety!

The new cutting garden is well on the way to being planted up with my homegrown flowering plants.

All-in-all I am pleased with the progress and looking forward to harvesting!

Her x

It’s tomato time! Bring on the Nutscene twine and grow bags.

Our tomato plants have been growing so well in the conservatory, where they have been recovering from their sickness, that the time had come to plant them in the newly fixed greenhouse. The weather has been changeable, again, this week so the greenhouse is still full of all the plants I had wanted to plant out. There was nothing else for it – everything would just have to budge along and make room!  If I left the tomatoes to grow any taller they would topple over.

We have tried lots of different methods for growing tomatoes in the greenhouse and have settled on using twine to support the vines.

This year I used Nutscene twine that Hubby bought me for my birthday. He tells me he followed a link on My Tiny Plot blog site as an advert caught his eye when browsing and he thought I would like it. He was right, I did!

I tie the twine around the bottom of the grow bag and knot firmly.

Then I tie it again at the top of the greenhouse to a piece of garden wire running along the whole length of our greenhouse. You can also see all the little plants hardening off outside in this picture.

Next,  I cut little crosses in the supposedly organic  grow bags and plant in the tomato plants. Ta da….

The tomato plants grow happily up the twine. I just occasionally encourage them but wrapping them around the string.

Now, you may be wondering why the grow bags on the end have black pots on them – they are there to provide some extra growing space. I cut the bottom out of a medium plant pot and insert it into the grow bag.

I fill the pot with some extra compost and plant straight into them.

These particular tomatoes are a vigorous grafted strain that I picked up from our local garden centre. I thought I would give them a try and see how they do as they were reduced – I have mentioned before about my weakness for discounted plants!

I don’t think I would pay £3.99 per plant for these  but at 50p each I thought they were worth a punt.

I remember which plant is which by using a permanent marker to write on the grow bags.

So what did I end up planting?

3 x Cherry Conchita (grafted)

3 x Sun Cherry

3 x Gardeners Delight

2 x Harlequin

2 x Harbinger

2 x Pomodoro

1 x Beef steak (grafted)

1 x Sungold (yellow variety)

We still have room for a couple more tomato varieties, a few cucumbers and a a gherkin.

I hope our tomato plants like their new home and grow well for us this year. I am already optimistically looking forward to huge abundant crops of tomatoes. On holiday last year, we were so inspired by a wonderful 92-year-old Italian man who tended his field of tomato plants lovingly each day.  I was thinking of him today when I was planting up my grow bags. I know we cannot compare with his small holding but who knows, one day we may get close.

Her x

Here’s my early May garden update

The hardening-off process is under way and I am twitchy to get everything planted in the garden. I need to really try to hold back as the nights are still cool. I know that, as the soil still feels cold, my carefully nurtured seedlings will not thrive when planted out, but just sulk instead. I really want to make room for the tomato plants in the greenhouse. Regular readers will know that my tomato plants are feeling better and are currently in the conservatory growing vigorously and threatening to turn my house into somewhere David Bellamy would feel at home.

Outside the garden is recovering from the chicken attack. I initially thought the chickens may have had my broad beans, but the hardy little chaps have survived a vigorous scratching and popped through the soil this week.

The grow bag strawberries are growing well in the fruit cage.

They are further on in the wheelbarrow. It’s tricky to see on the photo, but the wheelbarrow strawberries are covered in flowers. These have been with me for a few years but continue to produce a good crop every year. All I do is give them a mulch of homemade compost every spring. I think the old metal wheel barrow warms up in the sun and boosts the growth of these strawberries as they are always the first to crop.

My outdoor-sown peas have been unsuccessful this year. I have sown loads of pea seeds but they have suffered from chickens, weather and maybe even mouse damage. In this photo you may wonder what I am talking about as you can clearly see lots of growth…take a closer look and you will spot what I actually have is one pea growing and one potato plant growing! I have noticed a few potatoes growing in the pea patch. Ah well, I may just harvest these instead. I have started some peas in the greenhouse and I will try to fill in the gaps after they have hardened off.

I had a great tip from Promenade Plantings and I really wanted to try it out.   I have planted little broccoli plants inside my beanpole frame. The idea being that the growing beans protect the plants from pigeons and the broccoli plants can slowly grow over the summer. In autumn, the beans are taken down to reveal the hidden plants within that can then take centre stage.  I had a few spare plants and have nothing to lose so I am giving this a try. I will report back how it goes. Thanks again to Promenade Plantings for the great idea.

That’s about all for the garden. I am expecting it to start blooming in the next few weeks so until then….

Her x

All this hardening off is very hard work!

The time has come when all my little seedlings are growing up and getting ready to leave the cosy comfort of the greenhouse. Well, actually, they are partly being evicted as I want the room for my tomato plants.  The weather is still cool but as we head into May it is gradually warming up. As my little seedlings have been used to the greenhouse environment I need to acclimatise them to the outdoor conditions.  In practise this means taking them outdoors in the daytime and back again at night for a few days. This is easier said then done as I have quite a few trays of seedlings. It seems to take the whole family about 15 mins of passing, tripping over seed trays and arranging to get them all out in the morning, and then we repeat this process again at night.

I know all the benefits of hardening off but part of me wants to just plant them out and see what happens. I feel like a neglectful parent even admitting that, but I am frustrated by the fetching and carrying every morning and night!

You may wonder why I have hostas in the greenhouse. Well, they are all growing in pots. Early spring I put them in to give them a good start. After hardening off I use the bushy little plants to fill any gaps in the flower borders, the pots just slip in and are unseen from a distance.  Then next year I bring them back to the greenhouse and start again. I have a rogue duck that escapes the orchard and enjoys spending time in the flower borders. I think she does a great job of de-slugging the garden so I can manage to grow beautiful silky hostas every year.

Well, I had better go and recruit the family for the moving plant palaver!

Her x

Flower gardens, chicken helpers and broken tools

At the start of the year I was determined to grow more flowers. The borders are full of shrubs and established plants and leave little room for annuals so, first of all, I needed to find some new ground. Our garden is already full but a little corner of the chicken orchard looked hopeful.

It only has a few extra fruit bushes  and some bridal’s veil growing. I had rescued the shrubs from the discount section of a garden centre when they were half dead – a habit of mine – and the berry bushes had popped up elsewhere and I thought I would stick them in here to see if they took – I hate throwing stuff on the compost heap.

The chickens love a bit of disturbed ground to scratch about in, so my poor plants have been badly abused; the roof tiles were to protect the roots and that the chickens kept exposing.

First job was to re-home the above plants. The berry bushes and tiles  moved to a different area of the orchard and the shrubs went to live in my shady border as they are happy in a shady spot.

Next, I recruited the whole family to dig, clear, collect stones and plan a fence. Hubby informs me this is a job for postcrete so the fence is an ongoing project, as we haven’t been to get any yet (plus it’s now pouring down so not ideal for that kind of thing anyway). Hubby has collections of old wood and useful ‘things’ around the garden, and managed to find some suitable sized bits of post and some chicken-wire to be the basis of my fence.

Finally, with the area cleared I have left the chicken helpers to do what they do best, scratch. After a rough dig over I have left the chickens to break up and clear the rest of the patch for me. The bonus being the ducks are rather partial to a slug snack.

They are very enthausiastic helpers, you can imagine now why I need the fence after I have planted up!

As an after-thought the positioning of my new flower garden should mean I should  have a beautiful view from the greenhouse this summer!

I am really pleased with my afternoon’s effort, the only casualty was my favourite fork. It just snapped clean in half. It will now have to go and join the tool graveyard in the shed. Hubby recons that when he retires he will fix them all…we shall see.

Her x