First harvest of cauliflower and broccoli March 2021

Last week we saw the first bumble bees busy flitting around. Time to move the broad beans and peas, planted in hadopot containers, out of the polytunnel.  We'll move them in again if the threatened sub zero temperatures for next week look likely to materialise.

I am delighted with the cauliflowers (Zaragoza) and  cabbages (Duncan) we grew over winter in the tunnel (unheated) but a bit disappointed with the calabrese (Aquiles). The seeds were sown last August and the plants moved into the tunnel from end of September.  Growth rates have varied from plant to plant but the first cauliflowers was ready to harvest the first week in March and we have harvested one or two a week since then.

 The first few cabbages are just ready to harvest now.

Cauliflower Zaragoza ready to harvest April 2021

Cabbage Duncan ready to harvest April 2021

After appearing to do well at first the heads of the calabrese didn't develop well. Rather than grow into reasonable size compact head they spread as though to flower. They didn't of course and they are still edible, but not at all what we were expecting. Maybe they grew too fast. I'll definitely be sowing similar for early harvest again next year, and I won't waste space attempting to overwinter chilli and aubergine plants.

With my propagator and new grow lights it has proved much easier to germinate and bring on chilli and aubergine plants than in previous years. I have the wonderful problem of too many plants and am now struggling for space. It is likely to be two or three weeks before the weather is reliable enough for me to risk leaving them in the greenhouse or tunnel overnight.  

The broccoli (claret) plants I purchased in September 2019 and which I was expecting to produce sprouts by June 2020 have finally started to deliver (was that unreasonable?). The Lancer variety I planted in Autumn 2018 took until February/March 2020 to produce sprouts and then they continued to keep us supplied with purple broccoli sprouts for several weeks. I'm hoping the claret variety will do the same.

Sprouting broccoli claret ready to harvest April 2021

Several batches of peas and beans at various stages ready to plant out in the next few weeks. I'll wait for the threat of the sub-zero temperatures and snow(!) to pass first.  I'm very pleased with the germination of leeks, cabbages, beetroot, lettuce, Brussel-sprout and broccoli which I'm bringing on in the greenhouse for planting out early May. In the meantime I will also sow beetroot directly into growing position. After last year I realise you can never have too much beetroot! The webmaster commented that "it was all looking good, so far" in the greenhouse - "just waiting for disaster to strike later". Not if I can help it.

Garden 06 April2021

An update on the autumn plated onions (radar) and garlic (several varieties) which had been battered by the snow and wind storms just after Christmas: the garlics have survived and recovered and are now growing strongly. The onions took a real beating and about half of them disappeared, the other half are still growing but have been set back a long way. I don't know if they will recover. Most of the shallots (which had put up a lot of growth) looked as though they'd been given a hair cut. They are surviving but look weak. The elephant garlic hadn't come through when the storms hit and that is growing nicely now.  I have filled in the sad gaps with heat treated spring planting sets and if they all grow we will have a bumper crop of onions this year.

This is my fourth season of vegetable gardening since I retired and I'm still learning but this is the first time I can see the benefits of what I have learned over the previous three seasons paying off.  My ambition to have home grown produce available throughout the year is getting much closer.

More photos