This is the first time I am trying to grow cucumbers in my greenhouse. I have grown them for the last few years in my cold frames but the last 2 years something would go in and eat them. I suspect it was a rat or squirrel. This year I am going to try winter squash in the cold frames as their tougher skins might not be as appealing to these elusive creatures, fingers crossed.
I grow all of my plants in Smart Pots in the greenhouse as the greenhouse floor is gravel and growing things in pots gives me more options. I love Smart Pots and the ones I am currently using are 6 years old and still working perfectly! I plan to grow the cucumbers up some sort of trellis that I will build this once they are larger. I selected 2 special greenhouse varieties from Territorial Seeds, specifically Excelsior and Picolino and I look forward to seeing how they perform. I am already impressed with Excelsior, as you can see from the picture there are 3 cucumbers in a very small space in the stem. I love Lemon cucumbers and although they are not a ‘greenhouse’ cucumber I am going to give them a try. I would welcome any advice on pollination of non-greenhouse cucumbers but I suspect I will need to hand pollinate the female cucumbers with the pollen from the male cucumbers much like you need to do in order to pollinate eggplant/aubergines.
I am so lucky to have this greenhouse which brings me so much joy year round. Clearly the Spring and Summer months are the most exciting though. Spring is so fun as I get to start so many different types of seeds and each evening I pop out to the greenhouse to see what seeds have germinated, every day there is something to see!
May is the time that I plant my tomatoes and by June I should have my first tomatoes ready to eat and they keep cropping until October/November. I have been growing them in the greenhouse for 6 years so I have a great system that works for me and I wanted to share my approach with you! I hope you find my tips useful to you!
This is my first video so don’t judge me too harshly. I realize that some things are just better in a video than in writing. I often search for videos on very specific things and they are so useful. I remember a time when I was given 20 very unhealthy orchids that someone was going to throw away and I was determined to nurse them back to health. This was before I knew anything about them and what saved them (well about 25% of them if I am being honest) was the knowledge I picked up from the video!
I have been starting seeds in the same way since I built my greenhouse. I have made some small changes but all in all I have found a method that works and is cost effective. I love the jiffy pots I buy at Home Depot, they are really cheap and easy to work with. Anyway, I don't want to give too much of the video away so please do watch it and remember it is only my first one!
I love cut flowers in my house. As much time as I spend outside in the garden I spend more time in the house and over the years I have realized how important it is to have something growing outside that I can enjoy inside. A couple of years ago I bought 50+ Oriental Lily bulbs and planted them and enjoyed them for 2 summers. This year I was devastated to see that I lost these bulbs to a hungry mole (after discussing this with many gardeners I believe that moles were the culprits).
As I now have a large space to fill I decided that I would try and plant as many perennials which have flowers which are conducive to cutting. As my cutting garden is in a raised bed I really want to pack them in as I don't need to worry about creating space for weeding or walking.
I already have scabiosa and anemones planted which I love. Anemones are great early spring flowers that are so pretty and delicate. I also always grow calla lily tubers in the greenhouse so I planted a few of those in the cutting garden. I decided to add the following:
I will miss the fragrance of the Oriental lilies but I hope that this variety in flowers will make up for the loss!
Every year around Mother's’ Day I make up my containers which I fill with flowers to enjoy all summer. I have perfected this over the years and I really think I have a winning formula when it comes to pots full of color and non-stop flowers. I thought I would share my approach and ideas to creating beautiful containers:
I went for an orange and white theme this year, I started both Begonias and Calla Lilies from tubers in the greenhouse rather than buying them at the garden center as this means I get to select colors from a much larger selection. I bought Calynopsis, Dahlias and Jasmine from the garden center. Calynopsis is a stunning plant with balloon-like flowers that are prolific bloomers all through the summer and add such an interesting contrast to the other plants.
Let the warm weather begin!
I had to make a work trip this week to a city in the southern part of the US. I am not going to name this city as I am afraid I don't have anything good to say about it. I am living in a depressing concrete jungle this week. Being here has made me realize that even a large city can have an abundance of trees and plants. As you can see, this one does not...
I have been lucky enough to travel a lot and cities like Singapore, London, NYC and many more, and all of them have really embraced the idea that you can combine concrete and living plants. I recall visiting a city in Austria that decided instead of normal trees they were going to plant fruit trees so that everyone could enjoy a tasty apple when in town. I don't understand why more cities don’t use fruit/ vegetable plants in landscaping. I was super impressed last weekend when I was walking on the Kirkland Corridor path when I saw blueberries planted on the Google campus. Blueberries are lovely bushes in their own right and of course they also produce delicious fruit.
I heading back to the green of the PNW tomorrow…thankfully :)
The sun was shining this weekend in Seattle and I wanted to try out a new path called the Cross Kirkland Corridor. This is not the typical walk I do as I usually try to find a forest or mountain but I was lured by the fact that the Chainline brewery was literally right on the trail, this place has delicious beer!
The path is lovely and wide and at parts has a slow moving stream on either side of it. When walking along trying to stop my son from falling into the stream I noticed the stream was full of watercress. This watercress was in perfect condition and had not yet flowered. Once the watercress flowers the peppery taste turns bitter and is not terribly nice to eat.
I decided to gather up a bunch to take home and made some soup. Here is my recipe for watercress soup:
Lots of watercress (3 - 4 cups should be good!)
Salt and pepper
Clean the watercress and get rid of stems so you just have leaves, set this aside. Finely dice the onion and brown in the olive oil until translucent. Use a mandolin or slice the potato as finely as possible, add watercress and then add stock so it the watercress just sticks out above the stock a little. Cook for about 5 - 7 minutes until potatoes are soft and watercress has wilted. Use a hand immersion blender and blend. Finish with cream, salt and pepper….delicious :)
When I built the greenhouse I decided to put in cold frames down the long, southwest facing side of the greenhouse. When living in the UK I saw how useful these were, essentially you were able to keep things frost free during the Spring and in the Summer you can give plants more warmth and essentially extend the growing season.
In the past I have grown melons and this year I thought I would try something different. When I lived in the UK and had an allotment I had the space to grow winter squash like Butternut Squash and Acorn Squash. I loved being able to eat vegetables that I grew long into the winter months. As I don't have large beds here I miss things like winter squash, potatoes, onions and other things that just need lots of space to get a decent crop.
I plan to keep the cold frame shut until the plants flower. As a lot of squash have male and female flowers they require pollination for fruits to set so once I see flowers I will open the cold frames so the insects can do their jobs!
I decided to grow the following types of winter squash:
I used Smart Pots again as these are a great size and are easy to move around!
I have mentioned the wild fruit growing on my plot before. Today as I walked around the plot I really noticed how many wild/native plants which are growing here. I saw lots of Salal, Oregon Grape, Elderberry and Salmonberries. Parts of the plot are a sea of blue Forget-Me-Nots!
Today I was really taken with the beautiful flowers on the Evergreen Huckleberry. This time of year they are covered in delicate pink flowers which in July will be full of lovely tart berries. I really like mixing them with blueberries and serving with slightly sweetened cream.
The plants in the greenhouse are starting to take off with the warmer days. I have flowers on my tomatoes and they are already over 12 inches tall! I am feeling good about the 2017 tomato crop.
I always start calla lily and begonia tubers in the greenhouse and they will be ready to go out in a couple of weeks. I love growing them this way as I get to pick the specific type and color I want.
Here are some other lovely things growing in the greenhouse now!
When I moved into my house there was nowhere to grow vegetables despite the house being on a 1.2 acre plot of land. The previous owners had done amazing things with the landscaping including a 60 foot stream flowing downhill to a 15x15 pond! At the same time I wanted to grow vegetables.
In my quest for growing vegetables I wanted to share a few tips:
Tip 1 - Build Higher Than Normal Raised Beds
I needed a way to grow vegetables and keep the rabbits and weeds out. I decided to build 30 inch high raised beds, I built 5 of them in a sort of grid pattern. This higher than normal raised bed means that any weeds in the ground will not grow up 30 inches and you don't have to bend down to the ground all the time.
Tip 2 - Soaker Hose
As the property already had a sprinkler system I added another zone and hooked it up to soaker hoses. I cannot rave about soaker hoses enough, you can just attach to a normal hose so no need for an irrigation system. Soaker hoses deliver the water directly to the soil which offers so many benefits. You use less water, the leaves do not get wet and you are deliver water exactly where the plants need them. Additionally, this means that with a timer you can water the plants in the middle of the night which also reduces evaporation!
Tip 4 - Pack Those Plants In
When growing in a raised bed you are growing in such a way that you can reach in from all sides (I would not have the beds any more than 4 feet wide). This means you can ignore the spacing recommended on the seed packet. When growing in a raised bed you will get little to no weeds so you don't need to leave space to weed. Additionally you don't need rows to walk down either. So just pack those vegetables in!
Tip 4 - Grow In Clumps, Don't Stick to Rows
People think you need to grow plants in rows but this does not always make sense. I grow things like green onions, radishes, carrots and many more plants in clumps. So when I am sowing the seeds I scatter them in the designated area. You will get more vegetables for the space this way.
Tip 5 - Forget Plastic Labels, Use Popsicle Sticks!
Don't get wooed by the expensive plastic plant labels which, if you use a marker, means you can use them one time. Also if you use a pencil who wants to erase a pencil mark from a label? I buy a big box of wooden popsicle sticks and use those. Additionally, once you are done using them just put them in your green waste bin!
FINALLY the sun is out in Seattle so I am taking this chance to get outside for an hour and plant some more seeds.
Follow me on Twitter - twitter.com/SSDream2020