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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such A Busy Time

imageHi Guys, Well its been another very busy day in the tunnels.  I have managed to get lots of lettuce into their final planting position in the new tunnel along with some spring onions.  Also planted some more rocket, mustard, oriental salad and some herbs as its been a few weeks since the last lot of seeds were sown. Also more lettuce seeds so that we have a succession of salad  throughout the summer and hopefully into the winter as we did last year. Its such a busy time of year in the garden and I always wish I had more hours to do all the jobs that need doing…and love doing as I find gardening sooooo therapeutic!!.  Its a tough job here sometimes and wish i had two of me!!….as there is a lot of land which needs a lot of maintenance. I will hopefully get some heather into the rockery tomorrow and maybe do a few hanging baskets…..including those cherry tomatoes!

Heading out to my sons graduation now….can’t believe he has finished school…..oh except for those dreaded exams still to come next week……..I’d much rather do ALL the gardening!!

Eve