How To Grow Chillies and Peppers From Seed

Hi Guys

Do you enjoy the crunch of sweet bell peppers in your salad or the delicious sweet taste in your stir fry or even a little bit of  heat from some chilli, then why not grow your own? Here is how:

There are so many different varieties of Chilli and Pepper seeds to choose from, whether you like them sweet or hot.

There are so many different varieties of Chilli and Pepper seeds to choose from, whether you like them sweet or hot.

 

 

Both the Chilli pepper and the Bell (Capsicum) Pepper are from the same family so the following instructions on how to grow them are the same.  They are not the easiest seed to germinate and can take up to 21 days to pop their little heads above the soil  but with a little patience you will soon be reaping the benefits of growing your own peppers.

As peppers need a really long growing season it is best if you start your seeds off around February (in Ireland) , growing them any earlier would not be of any benefit as they will be ‘leggy’ as the light condition would be too low.  Alternatively you could, as I do use grow lights and bottom heat (heated mat) which will hopefully give the seeds the perfect condition for germination.

Fill your seed tray, cell tray or modules almost to the top with a good quality seed compost, firm in slightly and carefully pop your seeds on the top.  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite and place in a propagator, if you don’t have one then a plastic  bag or cling film will do the job too 🙂 Peppers need a temperature of around 21 degrees c for successful germination.

You will have all seen what a pepper seed looks like when you cut into your chilli or bell pepper.

You will have all seen what a pepper seed looks like when you cut into your chilli or bell pepper.

 

Remember to label your peppers or you wont know what you've got growing on ;)

Remember to label your peppers or you wont know what you’ve got growing on 😉

 

Cover your seeds lightly vermiculite and gently water in.

Cover your seeds lightly with vermiculite and gently water in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The seeds can be slow to germinate, so, as I said before, be patient and wait ;). and soon you will see them pop their heads up.  Once they are about an inch or sow tall you can gradually take the propagator lid off.  I normally take it off during the day and pop it back on at night for a few days, remembering they still need light and heat but will cope with slightly cooler conditions of maybe 18 degrees c.

These seeds are just about ready to be potted on into 3" pots or cell trays.

These seeds are just about ready to be potted on into 3″ pots or cell trays.

Carefully 'prick out' your seedlings as they are very delicate and the stem can break very easily!

Carefully ‘prick out’ your seedlings as they are very delicate and the stem can break very easily!

 

 

 

Make a small hole in your compost and carefully pop your seedling in. Gently firm around and water in.

Make a small hole in your compost and carefully pop your seedling in. Gently firm around and water in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seedlings will need to be pricked out and  transplanted into 3″ pots when they are large enough to handle.  Then kept on a warm windowsill until mid April to early May, when they can be put into your greenhouse or poly tunnel. I sit my pots on top of the raised  planters in my poly tunnel as the soil is nice and warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once your peppers reach about 6″ to 8″ they are ready to go into their final pot or grow bag, or for those of you lucky enough to live in a warmer location, they can go into the ground.  If planting in grow bags I would put maybe 3 per bag and if using pots (around the 10ltr size), only one per pot.  The larger bell peppers will need supporting as the plants can grow quite big and the fruits can hopefully, be heavy :).

These peppers are now about 4 months old and are finally ready to be potted on into their final position, in my case into pots but grow bags or directly into the ground is just as good.

These peppers are now about 4 months old and are finally ready to be potted on into their final position, in my case into pots but grow bags or directly into the ground is just as good.

Carefully take your young plant out of its pot

Carefully take your young plant out of its pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a well in the middle of your pot, pop your young pepper plant in firm in gently.

Make a well in the middle of your pot, pop your young pepper plant and gently firm in.

Soon you will start to see the first flowers appear and this is when you need to start feeding your peppers with a good tomato fertilizer (or similar).  Bell or Capsicum Peppers do not like to be waterlogged or indeed left to dry out, so always water little and often to keep the soil evenly moist.  I usually water and feed my peppers around the same frequency as I feed my tomatoes.  However if you like your chillies hot then water only when the leaves start to wilt as these plants are originally from hotter climates and will produce the best chilies if they are given a similar environment, ie: left to dry out before watering again (stressing the plant).  It is also a good idea to keep your sweet peppers and your chilli peppers apart as they will freely cross-polinate with each other and your hot chilli might disappoint you by being milder than you would like.

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Sometimes the plants can grow a bit spindly, which I have experienced over the years.  The best way to stop this and to get a bumper crop is to ‘pinch out’ the tops of the plants once they reach about 12″ tall.  This will encourage side shoots and the plant will give you a much better yield of peppers.  I will do a short video on this in the next couple of weeks.

Chillies and Bell Peppers all start out green and as they mature they will turn into orange, red, yellow or even purple, all depending on the variety you are growing.  Remember that the more peppers you pick the more your plant will produce so it’s always good to pick a few green ones even if you really want them red.  Chilli peppers will become hotter as they colour up and the bell peppers will become sweeter.

This is a cayenne pepper which changes colour so much before it finally turns red.

This is a cayenne pepper which changes colour many times before it finally matures and turns red.

 

These bell peppers were just so sweet and crispy.

These bell peppers were just so sweet and crispy.

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This is a hot little chilli called Prairie Fire. The peppers flower, turn white, green, orange and then red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over Wintering Chilli Plants

Last year I decided to do a little experiment and tried to overwinter my chilli pepper plants.  Chilli plants are perennials and if overwintered correctly, should last for years.  So at the end of the growing season (which was around October here) when the weather really started to cool down, I brought my chilli peppers indoors.  I left them for another month or so as there were quite a few flowers/chillies on them and I didn’t want to waste any.  After a few days I watched the flowers fall off rather than mature into peppers which was a little disappointing but the chillies ripened from green to red which was a bonus.

These are some of chillies that were overwintered.

These are some of the chillies that were overwintered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I finished picking all the chillies off of my plants I then took the drastic step of giving them a good prune, so that there was only a few inches of the plant left.  Doing this will ensure that your plant does not waste energy trying to keep foliage and fruits but instead put all its energy into surviving the winter. Great job I thought as I closed the door of my spare room, watered, pruned and all tucked in for the winter.  They looked great for the first couple of weeks but then I checked in on them and they had been invaded with aphids, which must have come in from the tunnels with them……uh oh I thought.  OK  I have managed to keep them alive for the past few weeks and I wasn’t going to let these little pests destroy all my hard work, so neem oil to the rescue.  I mixed a teaspoon of neem oil with a little washing up liquid and some water and went to war on the aphids.  I sprayed every plant until they were dripping and then watered the compost with the neem oil mix as well.  The aphids would have harbored in there too.  This was a process which I had to repeat over the winter and despite all my efforts only 6 or so plants have survived. Oh well I did try and  if it wasn’t for the aphids I think my experiment would have been a lot more successful!  PS  Overwintering is not recommended for bell peppers.  With hindsight, I should have treated the plants and soil with neem oil before bringing them indoors.  This would have lessened the impact of the aphids.  I am sorry to have to admit that I won’t repeat the experiment as the effort and work load  wasn’t worth the gain.

 

Health Benefits of Chillies and Peppers

Peppers are incredibly good for you, especially the brightly coloured ones.  They are both low in calories and packed full of essential vitamins like  A, B6, C and  E. Red Bell Peppers contain phytochemicals and carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, antioxidants and ant-inflammatory properties which is just soooo good for your health. Red Peppers also contain around 300 percent of your daily vitamin C intake and compared with the unripened green pepper they have twice as much vitamin C and loads more vitamin A.

Capsaicin,( the ingredient that makes chillies hot) in peppers,  especially chilli peppers have so many health benefits. These include reducing ‘bad’  cholesterol, diabetes,can aid in pain relief ,can  inhibit cancer cell growth, increase blood flow and even help with your libido 🙂

 

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So now you know give them a grow!!!

Thanks for tuning in and Happy Gardening

Take Care

Eve

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned and I will show you how harvest your chilli/peppers, how save your seeds from your homegrown peppers and also how to preserve them 🙂

Strawberry Fields Forever!

photo 2Hi Guys

Busy day again today and so much to ‘show and tell’ but too tired so I will just show you a few photos of my yummy strawberries which I picked yesterday 🙂

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Over 1kg of strawberries picked today :)

Over 1kg of strawberries picked today 🙂

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I spent most of today potting on my chili and bell pepper plants which I will give you more information on tomorrow.  Also made a small video on how to do this so stayed tuned 🙂

Good Night Guys and Happy Gardening

Take Care

Eve

 

Poly Tunnels and Multi Tasking!

Well hello there,

Yesterday was another one of those days when, as a woman I had to multitask.  My son is home from university for the summer and along with him came loads of washing – 5 machine loads to be precise!   I am more than happy to do his washing for him as I do miss him when he is away.  This was his 1st year at uni and I think I was more worried than he was 😉  So I was in and out of the utility with the washing and as it looked like it was going to rain I hung the clothes out to dry….in my tunnel, another great reason to use one of these great multi functional tunnels 😉P1000990

 

Along with doing the washing I had to get my seaweed into all the different places that I had for it.  First was to tuck my tomato plants into their seaweed bed, but before that I needed to stake the tomatoes and also start to ‘pinch out’ the side shoots and this is quite a time consuming job when you have 150 tomato plants to do.  Once this job was done, I could lay the seaweed around them and hopefully keep any fungal viruses and those nasty pests like slugs well away from my crops 🙂

After mulching your tomatoes with seaweed, remember to leave a space for walking on clear, otherwise you will be slip sliding all over the place.

After mulching your tomatoes with seaweed, remember to leave a space for walking on clear, otherwise you will be slip sliding all over the place.

Remember to stake your tomatoes and attach carefully with some garden velcro or similar.

When you have your stake in place you will need to attach the tomato plants to them carefully with some garden velcro or similar.

This plant has a really long side shoot.  Remember to take a good look at the plant to work out which is the main stem before pinching out the side shoot!!

This plant has a really long side shoot. Remember to take a good look at the plant to work out which is the main stem (shown here in the picture) before pinching out the side shoot!!

The side shoot should break away quite easily by gently pulling it towards you.

The side shoot should break away quite easily by gently pulling it towards you.

 

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Then onto the bins to make up my seaweed fertilizer.  As you will see from the photos I use good old fashioned household bins with lids and get my very handy husband to put taps into the bottom.  Remember to raise the bins up before filling them otherwise you will find it very difficult to get your liquid seaweed out of the tap.

Good old fashioned garden bins make great compost/fertilizer bins. Also remember to raise them up so you can put a container under the bin to collect your liquid

Good old fashioned garden bins make great compost/fertilizer bins. Also remember to raise them up so you can put a container under the bin to collect your liquid

 

Fill your bin with about 2/3 of fresh water then fill up with your seaweed

Fill your bin with about 2/3 of fresh water then fill up with your seaweed

Taps are readily available in any good garden center or DIY.  You can however buy compost bins which have the taps already on but they are pretty pricey!!

Taps are readily available in any good garden center or DIY. You can however buy compost bins which have the taps already on but they are pretty pricey!!

 

Last but not least I put a couple of wheel barrow loads of seaweed into the compost heap. I will put a pile of straw on top of it today or it will end up a slimy mess 🙂

So lets check what we achieved yesterday: Tomatoes staked….check, Tomatoes ‘pinched out’ and tied to their stakes….check, seaweed mulch around tomatoes….check, pot on the peppers……NOT DONE but today is another day 🙂

Even Buddy was bored today and thought that I would never get finished ;)

Even Buddy was bored yesterday and thought that I would never get finished 😉

Thanks for tuning in and happy gardening.

Eve

Seaweed-one of natures free fertilizers

P1000974Hi Guys

Well today turned out to be slightly different from planned which happens quite a lot in my world.  I’m not complaining as life can be more exciting (sometimes) when you do things on a ‘whim’.  Today we woke up to sunshine, although a little cold as we have a northerly wind but decided it was a perfect morning to collect seaweed for the garden. It’s a great FREE  organic fertilizer, mulch and can also be used as pest control.

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Seaweed is so good for the garden soil and plants due to the amazing amount of trace elements (these are the nutrients that plants only need a little of), potassium, magnesium, growth hormones, nutrients, and anti fungal and disease elements.

If you are not lucky enough to live close to the sea and collect seaweed fresh, don’t panic as seaweed can be used in its natural form or as a powder or liquid fertilizer and is available in most good garden centers. It can be used as a foliage spray on both plants and seedlings.  It can help prevent disease (mold and fungus growth), act as a growth simulator, due to the micro nutrients and help set  fruits.  To make your own  seaweed fertilizer you will need to fill a bucket or barrel to 3/4 full with fresh water.  Add as much seaweed as you need to fill it up and leave to soak for at least 6 weeks,  even several months stirring every few days. It is best to keep it somewhere ‘out of the way’ as it will smell pretty bad for a while.  It is ready to use when it no longer ‘stinks’.  It should be diluted before you use it, at least a minimum of 3-4 parts of water to 1 part of  seaweed fertilizer.

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Seaweed also works as a great mulch and unlike other ground cover mulch at often make a great hiding place for slugs, snails, earwigs and other little pests, the seaweed is both salty and as it dries it crisps up and makes it very uncomfortable for these horrid little critters to crawl on.  It is also great as a weed suppressant and any weeds that do manage to pop up above the seaweed can be easily seen and destroyed.

Seaweed is also great for the compost heap as it helps to condition your compost with trace elements so that when you use it in your garden you are getting the benefit both from the mulch and the compost. I would advise you to mix it with such materials as straw, paper or dried leaves when composting, otherwise it will become very slimy and leave your compost pile smelling rancid.

Seaweed is also great for the garden if you haven’t got time for manure to age, as seaweed can be used straight away and dug into the soil before planting up your fruit and veg.

We collected a couple of trailers full of seaweed today, with the help of one of our dogs Tilly, she not only loves the beach, but loves water:)

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Tomorrow I will put some seaweed around my tomato plants, put some into a barrel for fertilizer and some onto the compost heap….and maybe get some of the other jobs done that I had initially planned for today 😉

Thanks for tuning in and happy gardening.

Take Care

Eve

 

 

 

 

LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR!

Hi Guys I love this time of year, the days are longer, the sun is high enough to stay above the mountain facing us and follows the ridge all the way down into the ocean before it disappears for a few hours. Another busy day in the tunnels today, not sure which way to turn as there is still so much to do but its keeps me out of mischief 😉  First thing this morning I decided to pick some more strawberries from the 125 strawberry plants that I have growing this year….from 12 plants that were grown last year ( I will show you exactly how to do this in another post coming up soon).  So I started to pick my lovely red strawberries but as I went along the bed I began to get more and more disappointed as there were so many ripe fruits that had gone rotten 😦  I knew the reason for this was the fact that the bad ones were lying on the damp soil and should have put straw around them when I first planted them…..I forgot, or should I say, I was too busy doing other stuff.  Anyway I knew if I was going to get a good yield  from my strawberry bed I needed to do something before I lost more yummy fruit, so with the help of my hubby we carefully covered the soil around the strawberries with….yep…straw.  Very fiddly job when there are so many mature plants.  My advise is that you do this job when you first plant them, which is what I should have done!

Great bed of strawberries but having to throw a lot away due to the fruits lying on damp soil.....They need tucking into a nice straw bed!

Great bed of strawberries but having to throw a lot away due to the fruits lying on damp soil…..They need tucking into a nice straw bed!

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Nicely tucked into their new straw bed 🙂 P1000934   Once I had that job out of the way I decided that I needed to tidy up a little, especially as I fell over the hose yesterday 😦  I also planted on the courgettes in between the corn and beans (three sisters) and have a baby courgette already.

Courgettes are coming on nicely

Courgettes are coming on nicely

The lettuce has settled down now and is over the transplant shock. Also the flower hanging baskets, of which I have done 15 for both friends and myself are starting to look really good.  I will keep them in the tunnel for a couple of weeks so that when they finally go outside they will be in full bloom. P1000936 Tomorrow will once again be a busy day.  I have to transplant my peppers into larger pots, plant some more potatoes, transplant some more salad seedlings into cell trays and stake my tomato plants….not much really 😉 P1000960P1000956

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Thanks for tuning and happy gardening.

Take Care

Eve

Lettuce Begin!

 

Hi Guys and welcome back.

Well it’s that time of year where it has been another very busy day in the tunnels.  I managed to do a lot of potting on of the Dalias which I grew again this year, from last years flowers!!  I also dug over a large planter which had previously had winter vegetables in it.  I needed to get it ready for the lettuces to go in which I started about 6 weeks ago in some seed trays.  I almost always start my lettuce in trays and then pot on and eventually find a final growing place for them.  You can of course plant your lettuce seeds straight into the ground which is pretty much the same process as the seed trays….  So how do you grow lettuce?

LETTUCE BEGIN!

Lettuce can be a little difficult to germinate so it’s a good idea to sprinkle a good amount onto the soil so that you have a good chance of getting some seeds to germinate.  Another problem with lettuce not germinating is when the seeds are too old (more than 1 year) or the temperature is too high which happened to me earlier this year when the tunnel temperature reached 95 degrees.

Lettuce seeds are very tiny so it is a good idea to tip a few into your hand and then sprinkle liberally over the soil.  If you are growing in seeds trays or indeed straight into the ground, you will need to cover the seeds with about 1/2 inch of soil or compost, water lightly with a mist spray making sure that the seeds get a good soaking (without drowning them!)

 

Lettuce seeds are very small so its better to pop some into your hand and then sprinkle onto the soil for an even distributio.

Lettuce seeds are very small so its better to pop some into your hand and then sprinkle onto the soil for an even distribution.

Sprinkle liberally to ensure good germination

Sprinkle liberally to ensure good germination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always use a good quality seed compost to start your seeds and if growing straight into the ground make sure the soil has enough nutrients by adding some fresh compost before sowing.

Your lettuce seedlings should take between 5 and 10 days to germinate, all depending on the climate, temperature and variety of lettuce you are growing.

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If growing in seed trays, you can ‘prick out’ your seedlings carefully and transplant them into either small module trays, cell trays or small pots.  If however you are growing your seedlings directly into the ground, you will need to ‘thin out’ the seedlings a couple of times during their growing season.  The thinnings can be used as baby leaf salad. Like all seedlings, lettuce seedlings are very delicate and will break very easily if not handled with care.

 

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The lettuce seedlings are very delicate at this stage so handle with care!

The lettuce seedlings are very delicate at this stage so handle with care!

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Let your seedlings re-establish themselves in their new cell trays etc and then plant out into their final position once the roots have filled their cells.  It will depend on the variety your growing as to how far apart to plant them so always read the packet. Carefully firm the soil around your lettuce seedling  and water well.

These lettuce seedlings are not looking too good but they will soon bounce back after their initial transplant shock!!

These lettuce seedlings are not looking too good but they will soon bounce back after their initial transplant shock!!

 

 

Your lettuce seedlings are ready to go into their final planting position once their roots are well established!

Your lettuce seedlings are ready to go into their final planting position once their roots are well established!

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 Lettuce does not need too much care but cannot tolerate being too hot or dry so always make sure you water well or you will find it reaching for the stars – bolting (going to seed).  When growing in a poly tunnel try to shade the area your growing your salad leaves in to help stop your leaves bolting.

The biggest enemy to your lettuce is the snail and slugs.  Use organic pellets, lay bait traps (beer) or use some egg shells or other rough gritty barrier around your lettuce.  Aphids can also be a problem so keep an eye out for them and use an organic spray which should be available in any good garden centre. Alternatively you could make your own with neem oil, garlic, washing liquid and water.

When picking lettuce, you can either pick a few leaves off at a time or pull the whole head.  If you decide to take the whole head, remember to cut  just above the ground and watch it grow back again!

When cutting whole heads of lettuce, remember to cut an inch or so above the ground in order for it to regrow!

When cutting whole heads of lettuce, remember to cut an inch or so above the ground in order for it to regrow!

This is a bunch of lettuce that was cut off an inch or so from the ground and as you can see its growing back again!

This is a bunch of lettuce that was cut off an inch or so from the ground and as you can see its growing back again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your anything like myself and don’t  like waste then you will find it hard to throw away lettuce, but unfortunately we can never eat it all.  The best advise is grow little and often.  I usually sow new seeds when the seedlings are ready to transplant – every 2 to 3 weeks.  This way you will always have lettuce for your table and if you have a poly tunnel there is not reason why you can’t have salad leaves all year round.

Lettuce comes in a variety of colour, shape and texture. Why not grow a variety to add great colour and flavour to your salad dishes

Lettuce comes in a variety of colour, shape and texture. Why not grow a variety to add great colour and flavour to your salad dishes

Health Benefits of Lettuce

Not only is your lettuce very low in calories – 100g would be less than 15 calories:)  It is also full of vitamins A, B-complex, C and K, essential minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fibre.  If you want to get the best nutritional value from lettuce then choose Romaine which is excellent, Iceberg lettuce, on the other hand has the lowest nutritional value.  Also the darker the green, the better the lettuce is for your health as it indicates the presence of  folic acid and beta-carotene.

I grow a wide variety of lettuce but also grow other healthy greens such as spinach, rocket, beet leaves, mustard, cress and many others so that my salad is not only really tasty but also very healthy.  I will share growing other salad leaves with you in a later blog.

I love my salads and eat  them most days, its healthy tasty, full of great healthy nutrients and hardly any calories…..so whats stopping you 🙂

One tip though.  If your like me and enjoy all that yummy dressing that go with salad…go easy guys or you will destroy the real flavour of your leaves and pile on the calories 🙂P1010678

 

Please feel free to ask any questions and hopefully I can help you enjoy your gardening as much as I do.

 

Thank you for tuning in and look forward to sharing more interesting gardening tips next time.

Take Care

Eve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Back to Garden Of Eve

eamonns camera 852Well hello there everyone and welcome back to Garden Of Eve.  I know its has been a very long time since I last blogged and I could give you lots and lots of reasons why, but I wont as we would be here all day :).  The important thing is I am back and really excited about sharing my gardening, cooking and preserving experiences with you all. This year I am going to blog about gardening including sowing, growing,harvesting and preserving vegetables and fruit.  Also Im going to show you how to sow and grow flowers and how to save their seeds, saving you loads of money which is always a good thing.  Finally I am going to share lots of my recipes with you, some of which are from the produce and also everyday cooking and baking.

All my blogs will be illustrated as much as possible  because if you are anything like me, its always good to put a picture with the words 🙂 As the followers of my blog are from all around the world I will be covering many areas of  sowing and planting of  veg and flowers.  The timing of this will of course vary depending on where you live. I do hope you that you can take the time to follow my  blog this year as I guarantee you will learn lots of hints and tips on gardening,cooking, preserving and saving money………..So please stay tuned and I will show you all how easy and enjoyable it is to do all of the above!!

Thank you for tuning in.

Eve

Buddy And Tilly are hunting again!

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Buddy And Tilly ready to go hunting but their Dad Ralph is just supervising these days as he is retired lol!

Today was another very busy day in the tunnels and as usual I had a couple of helping ‘paws’ 😉 Buddy and Tilly are always hunting around as I garden but are never too far away and 9 times out of 10 will come back within a few minutes when called. They sometimes come back together but sometimes I need one to find the other!

Well today my little furry friends went awl….or so I thought.  I called and called and called but they didn’t come back to me.  After about 10 minutes, which was probably only 5, but I was getting a little stressed to say the least and worried that they had gone walkabout on the road.

After another few frantic shouts for BUDDY AND TILLY, Tilly came running to me all excited and out of breath.  ‘Where have you been’ I asked, as if she was going to answer (she is a very intelligent dog, by the way!) Then I asked her where was Buddy to which she started to run off down towards my neighbours house, with me running behind.

There I found Buddy, well Buddys backside is all I could see with his head down a hole in my neighbours garden.  Tilly very quickly joined in and I could see they were both on ‘A Mission’.  There was no doubt that there was a rodent of some sort down that hole and they were both very determined to get IT!  Buddy was so determined that he even tried to chew some concrete which was around the hole 🙂

After another good few minutes of my neighbour and I watching the antics of my furry friends, we decided that they needed a little help to get whatever it was out.  So I pulled them both away from the hole by their collars but they were so strong that they pulled me over to get back to the hole.  My neighbour then decided we should intervene, but how…..boiling water should get IT out we thought.  So off my neighbour went and came back with the kettle of boiling water.  I held back Buddy and Tilly, while he poured so that they would not get scalded and within a couple of seconds out came a…….RAT.  I let go of Tilly and Buddy very quickly and Tilly was in there like a good Jack Russell, one bite of the rat, a quick shake and it was DEAD, GONE, NO MORE! Yey 🙂

Buddy And Tilly - Great little 'Ratpackers'

Buddy And Tilly – Great little ‘Ratpackers’ (by the way they are NOT eating it- just checking to see if it is really dead!)

Now I just need them to do a little more hunting closer to one of the poly tunnels as I have some little critters eating my tomatoes…..Grrrrrrrrrrrr 😦   I watered my tomatoes this morning and found lots of my little cherry tomatoes nibbled.  Its really upsetting when they are just ripe and ready for picking and I haven’t managed to get my sign up yet saying ‘ONLY FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION’ 😉 Anyway, I did send Tilly into the raised planter, which is normally ‘out of  bounds’ for them but she got a scent and away she went, nose to the ground.  Unfortunately she didn’t manage to hunt anything down so i have had to put the mouse traps out as I think that it is little field mice that are nibbling away at the tomatoes. Ive even put their next favourite snack (after tomatoes) on the traps, peanut butter sandwiches. So lets hope that does the trick.

Evidence that something is nibbling at my tomatoes and its not me!

Evidence that something is nibbling at my tomatoes and its not me!

Tilly sniffing out the enemy!!
Tilly sniffing out the enemy!!

Tilly getting into the undergrowth hunting out those horrid little nibblers!
Tilly getting into the undergrowth hunting out those horrid little nibblers!

WILL KEEP YOU UPDATED ON TILLY’S FINDING 🙂

Happy Gardening, Eve

“Whats Up Doc” How To Grow Carrots by Bugs Bunny!

Hi Guys

“Whats Up Doc”

Some people can often be very fussy about different vegetables but carrots are one of those vegetables that most people like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Sunday roast without them!  Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, the source of vitamin A, Vitamin C and they are also high in fibre.  They come in many shapes, sizes and colours, from round ones to stumpy looking ones, orange ones,yellow ones, white ones and even purple ones and guess what… orange was not the original colour, purple and white were apparently the original colours. They can be eaten raw as a nibbly snack, grated in salads, roasted, boiled and even used as an ingredient for a cake mix 🙂

Most carrots need deep, sandy soil that has been dug over well removing any stones or clumps of clay so that it is a nice crumbly consistency for the roots to grow. If your soil is very ‘clayey’ then try to add some sand and maybe some perlite to help lighten it.   If you are going to add fresh manure to the seed bed you must prepare it  the season before the crop is to be planted, as a freshly manured bed will make the roots fork instead of growing long and straight.  If you haven’t got manured planting beds then you need to add some good organic fertilizer before sowing your seeds. The reason that carrots fork if your manure is too fresh is due to the excess nitrogen and the carrot seedlings will hunt deeper into the soil to find nutrients which is how the roots will split into different directions (fork)!!  Another theory is that the hot fresh manure burns the roots which make them fork….best not to add fresh eh 😉

Carrot seeds are tiny and it is a good idea to sow them as thinly as possible, so you can either sprinkle by tapping the packet very gently, pop some into your hands and sprinkle or you could add some sand to the seeds and them sow.  I have never tried the latter but it is something that people do.   This reduces the amount of thinning necessary and potential risk from pests such as the carrot fly.  Carrots need to be planted in drills approximately 1/2 inch deep and about 4-6 inches apart (read your seed packet as this can vary depending on the variety you are growing).

Carrot Fly

Carrots are relatively pest free vegetables apart from the carrot fly. This horrid little pest is drawn to the carrots by the smell of crushed foliage as you pull the thinnings, so to reduce the risk of an attack try to  do this task only in the evenings and on a still day, removing any thinnings and watering afterwards. Carrot fly are also low flying insects so if you are planting in raised boarders you are less likely to get an attack.  Also, if growing on the ground you could try to put a net around the area that you are growing the carrots which will also help to deter these horrid little pests.

Once the seeds have germinated which may take a good week or so, depending on when you sowed them, wait till they are large enough before thinning them out. I always wait till they are big enough to use the thinnings which are so sweet and tender.

Carrot plants need little very little attention whilst they are growing, although the plants should be kept well watered as too little water will only result in poor yields and woody roots.

Carrots can be harvested 12-16 weeks after sowing depending on when they were sown and which variety you are using.  Start pulling up your carrots as soon as they’re big enough to eat.

Enjoy 🙂

Why Grow In A Poly Tunnel


P1010654Hi Guys

I have been so busy over the last few weeks with soooooo many different things that are going on in my life, all good I am glad to report….. and boredom is definitely not on the agenda ;).  I have been working in the poly tunnels over the last week or so and  have also managed to do some more gardening outside in my rockeries.

This is one of the bedding flower rockeries on the drive up to our home

This is one of the bedding flower rockeries on the drive up to our home

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Today, I have been looking at what I have growing in my tunnels and also what is growing outside.  Everything in the tunnels is doing so well, looks so healthy and has very little ‘bug’ damage.  Outside however, is a very different story. Between the wind, which is very strong here, the rain, which is very heavy and frequent here and the slugs and snails that seem to have made their home on our land…..everything looks sick or is very slow to grow.  The carrots and potatoes are doing OK but the runner beans and the dwarf beans are all but destroyed from the unseasonable wind and rain.

As I have mentioned in my piece ‘About Me’ I have been gardening for many years and have always grown our vegetables both  outside and also under cover.  When I lived in the UK I grew in a glass house (green house) and a plastic green house, both only about 6ft x 8ft.  I grew tomatoes and cucumbers mainly and the odd bit of lettuce but there was never enough room for me to grow all the veg I would have liked.  Moving to Ireland and having a large enough area to have a poly tunnel was like a dream come true and as soon as we started to build our home I started to look for a poly tunnel.  I researched poly tunnels and looked at lots of different companies and what they had to offer.  My biggest concern/worry was would the tunnel be able to cope with the extremely harsh weather conditions that we get here, as we live in a valley and are only 1 mile from the Atlantic….I will leave the rest to your imagination but it is very difficult to grow most plants unless they are able to cope with the elements.

After educating myself about the structure of a poly tunnel and our needs for a strong tunnel we decided to buy from a company based in the UK called First Tunnels.  They had a fantastic web site which was so easy to ‘get round’ and when I called they were so helpful.  I told them what my needs were, where I lived,  the type of weather we get and they helped me to work out what size tunnel I needed along with what type of cover, crop bars etc.

I found my poly tunnel so good, I bought another, and I would love another (don’t tell my hubby 😉 ).

Why do I like growing in a tunnel. There are too many reasons to list but here are some:-

Where we live we can get all four seasons in just one day and when you are growing veg outside it only takes that one day to destroy what was a healthy plant.

In the poly tunnel however, the weather outside can be doing whatever it wants, wind, rain, hail, sleet or snow but inside the tunnel the sun is shining (OK, not literally) but the weather inside the tunnel is so controlled.

I did, however,  a few years ago decide to plough the meadow/field behind the house and grow all those outdoor veg like potatoes, cabbage and runner beans etc.   We cleared the ground, put up fencing and planted and planted and planted, It was a lot of hard labour and even harder to maintain the ground to stop nature from taking over, but, guess what, I lost and nature took over 😦   I ended up with a very bad back and a very very over grown veg patch.  We did get a few potatoes however, but the cabbages were eaten alive by the caterpillars and the runner beans…….well they ‘ran to ground’ and produced very little. It was hard to believe that there was ever a veg patch there as it had turned, very quickly back into a meadow 😦  That was the toughest summer I had ever experienced gardening, doing what I love became a ‘nightmare’.  So that was the end of that and gave in to the fact that it is not easy to grow outside in the environment that we had chosen to live in.

The new tunnel planters were half full before we even got the cover on!!

The new tunnel planters were half full before we even got the cover on and tightened!!

The new tunnel now with its cover on in ‘Poly Tunnel Plaza’!!

Growing in poly tunnel is a such a lovely environment to work in…whatever the weather!

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That space in the middle is screaming out for another tunnel…don’t you think 😉

With the poly tunnel however, it was much easier to control the environment that I was growing in.  We could only see one slight problem, that was a we lived at the bottom of a  mountainside so we did have to bring in the soil and build raised beds (needed these days for the ‘ol’ back) which is great because that means that I can control the weeds, snails, slugs and bugs so much easier than if I was growing outside and everything in the tunnel is much cleaner.

We bought our tunnel from First Tunnels 🙂 about 6 years ago and it was not long before I ran out of space.  Initially I used my tunnel to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, chilies and salads but wanted to grow more….loads more!!  We then bought another tunnel about 12 months ago and my lovely hubby built the planters, erected the poles for the tunnel and finally, when the weather was right put on the plastic cover.

We now how vegetables growing all year round,  start seeds in January and continue sowing and planting all year 🙂

Over the last 12 months we, as a family have had the pleasure of eating freshly grown, chemical free veg everyday out of the 2 tunnels, even on Christmas day I went out, picked brussels, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and salad leaves for our dinner….now I call that a huge success, for growing your own!

Other veg that I have overwintered and had great success with are, Cauliflower, Kale, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Many varieties of cabbage and Lettuce.

Both of my tunnels are full, or will be within the coming weeks with a massive variety of veg including, Tomatoes, Aubergines, Chilies. Basil. Coriander, sweet potatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, butternut squash, melons, celery, celeriac, lettuce, rocket, mustard, cress, oriental salad leaves, spring onions/scallions), sweetcorn, peas, beans, courgettes/zucchini, parsnips, carrots, radish, the list is endless and that’s not including all the seedlings that I have growing for overwinter veg 🙂

For me, there is NO comparison between growing outside and growing undercover……poly tunnel gardening is the best, cleanest, easiest and  THE ONLY successful way to garden in such an uncompromising environment.

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There is nothing nicer than eating, fresh, clean, chemical and bug free fruit and vegetables from your poly tunnel!

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Now, hows that for a good but slightly long explanation on, ‘Why Grow In A Poly Tunnel’ 🙂

Happy Gardening

Eve