Growing melons

This year, one of the new crops we’ve tried out has been melons.

We planted Sutton’s Musk (F1 Emir) melon seeds from the James Wong collection – and grew the seedlings on in our greenhouse. The pack says these melons will grow in the UK without a greenhouse but as we had space in ours, and our garden gets a fair bit of wind, we thought they’d do better inside it.

And today we harvested our first melon. We have about another 10 nearly ready, and more coming on. This first one was very sweet and tasty, so melon growing seems to be a success.

Vegetable sowing is a go!

It has been so cold, and so dark, and so wet, that we’ve barely considered getting our vegetable seeds into the ground. However, despite what the weather might be saying, it is March, so we bought everything into the warm house instead and potted up on the kitchen table.

We’ve got our first load of tomatoes, chillis, peppers, aubergines, and our herbs in – everything that will be bought on in the greenhouse initially. It still feels too cold to be planting outside – that will wait another week!

We used the spreadsheet we put together in January to make sure we didn’t miss anything. We also had all of the seeds ready filed in our new seed box that David’s mother gave us for Christmas, which will make successional sowing easier this year.

I picked up these great seed trays in the garden centre when they were on half price, they allow you to take out individual pots and make transplanting a doddle. Last year we ended up breaking some of the delicate little seedlings because the trays we used allowed all of their roots to tangle, but these should make a big difference.

What’s the point of the asparagus pea?

James Wong told us to plant asparagus peas, and although I am a huge (HUGE) fan, I’m afraid this is one ‘homegrown revolution’ I could do without.

I was very excited about little bushes covered in deep red flowers followed by mini asparagus-flavoured delicacies popping up in my garden.

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Unfortunately, the reality is a couple of stringy stalks, a scarce spattering of tiny flowers and fairly tasteless little peas.

We’ve tried boiling, steaming, frying and eating these raw, but they really don’t taste of much. Fried with courgettes was best (slight nutty flavour, maybe?) but they take ages to slice into tiny x-shaped pieces of vegetable confetti – its hardly worth the effort.

I think this is one crop we’ll give a miss next year!

Pop-stars!

Before you read this blog, here is some music to go with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBYjZTdrJlA

Right, now you’re in the mood, lets talk popcorn. I have to admit, this is another James Wong suggestion, and one that I am loving so far.

We planted our popcorn seeds in toilet rolls – they don’t like their roots disturbed so when you plant them out you can plant the whole toilet roll and it will biodegrade. Just like the biodegradable plant pots you can get in the garden centre but free from the bathroom instead.

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These seeds grew so quickly, it was six days before they’d all popped up, and another week before they looked pretty strong. When we planted them out we probably planted them too close together, but we have been giving them a comfrey feed once a week and they have shot up, nice and tall and strong.

Our neighbour Mike is growing sweetcorn (as are most of the farmers around us) and it looks almost the same – the main difference is that ours is deep russet red around the tips of the leaves and on the forming husks, unlike the golden yellow of the sweetcorn.

Popcorn husks are very colourful, usually a mixture of reds, yellows, oranges and browns. We’re planning to use the popcorn as decoration at the wedding, I’ve bought some screw eyes to fix in the ends of them and we plan to make colourful autumn harvest bunting with them!

If you want to eat them though, all you have to do is brush butter on the outside of the husk and pop it in the microwave whole. I can’t wait for our winter film nights!