Our local supermarket recently changed hands and the new owners altered the separate workshop section where it was possible to buy pretty much any emergency DIY, hardware or gardening item into a discount section. I think mass panic broke out in the neighbourhood and some of the old items started to find their way back. At the end of April while the Webmaster was popping into the main store, I decided to take another look in the old Workshop section. "Don't buy anything" he shouted as I went in through the door.
But I did. I bought a capillary mat long enough to cover the staging in our greenhouse. I took it home and set it up for the seedlings. Much taken with this approach the Webmaster ordered more capillary matting and proceeded (whenever more space was required) to construct platforms using old pallets, flat pieces of hardboard and sheets of polythene with the capillary matting laid on top and draped into a water trough (actually wallpaper paste trough from local B&Q as they are cheaper than if purchased as garden accessories).
As the seedlings grew and were repotted and more space was needed: another platform. In addition to the top of the staging we now have four platforms where all the plants are watered using the capillary system.
So far so good. Well, at least on the watering front. If you ignore the orange mould problem we had to deal with a couple of weeks ago!
I planted three varieties of tomato - two bush varieties for outdoors and one vine variety for in the greenhouse. Those outdoors have been struggling with the cooler and wet weather, but then everything apart from the grass and weeds seems to be lagging by up to a month on this time last year.
The greenhouse vine tomatoes (Sweet Aperitif, above) have grown well and have been flowering for almost two weeks but no sign of any fruit, I think they are overcrowded; the aubergine (money maker) started slowly, then grew quickly and have flower buds but are now starting to suffer from wilt of the top, new growth. I am fairly sure it isn't the watering and I have been bug hunting but there was nothing significant and I am beginning to think there may have been something in the soil I used to pot them in or on the trowel - although I try to be careful and clean it before using it in the greenhouse.
My black beauty aubergine (all but one) appear to be OK. I transplanted most of them at a different time and used a different bag of compost.
Due to the weather and my space problems I left about four patty pan squash plants in the greenhouse and they are thriving and already have many small fruits. The patty pan squash outside are only about half the size but they are now coming into flower and small fruits are developing. It's another matter entirely for my butternut squash, planted in the large polythene pots, which I think drowned in the very wet weather during early and mid June.
The bell pepper plants are a lot smaller than last year but are in flower. The hot peppers and chillies are struggling and only half of them seem to be growing but there is no obvious reason why.
So far the star performers, other than the patty pan squash, are the cucamelons growing up among the tomatoes. Already I can see small fruits forming. We have never had cucamelon before and are eagerly anticipating our first taste.
In the meantime the cauliflowers and cabbage I planted last Autumn produced a lovely crop but the broccoli failed to sprout and we have been eating its stalks and leaves like kale. The onions are just about ready and we ate a couple last week: the nicest onions I've tasted. Lovely and sweet. We have also eaten nearly all the peas and beans from the over winter crop and the new sewings are coming along nicely.
Oh, the parsnips and celeriac finally started to grow and the first batch of carrots is nearly ready to harvest. Fingers crossed for the tomatoes and aubergine but we have the onions and of course plenty of beans to look forward to.