Sowing and Potting on Tomatoes

I started sowing tomatoes in February (earlier than I usually do) and more again in March. I’m growing Alicia Craig and cherry variety Gardener’s Delight, thanks to the continuous beautiful weather my urge to sow tomatoes in February paid off  – the plants have their first flowers and a couple of small fruits. At the moment they are inside the greenhouse with the door open during the day to allow for pollinating insects to do their bit. The March plants are smaller but really coming along well, they need potting on again so I shall crack on with that over the weekend. I will probably grow a few plants outdoors too but they won’t go outside until the risk of frost is over.

I use deep modules to sow tomato seeds, a warm sunny windowsill normally works well for germination. I transplant each seedling into a small pot once the first set of true leaves appear, then I grow them on in a warm spot until they need potting on again into larger pots. When potting on tomato seedlings I plant deeper than they were previously, I find this encourages a better root system which helps with watering during the summer months and generally a stronger plant all round.

Due to a combination of unseasonably warm weather and sowing tomatoes early, I just might be eating  home-grown tomatoes earlier than usual this year. Fingers crossed!

February in the Garden Smallholding

The beginning of the month was a bit hairy with gale force winds battering most of the UK for almost a week, the chickens were not impressed and retreated to the safety of the coops, only leaving to eat. Despite this daily egg laying has increased this month to 4 out of 6 hens laying – plenty of eggs for our needs. Red mite in the chicken coop could be a potential problem anytime from now as the temperature begins to rise, I highly recommend dusting the inside of your coop with Diatom powder as a precaution, used regularly you shouldn’t have a problem.

I have been sowing seeds this month, tomatoes, broad beans and hardy outdoor cucumber along with an early sowing of radish outdoors undercover. Lupin and foxglove are doing well, some of the lupin seedlings already have their first set of true leaves. The last parsnips have been lifted this month and the rhubarb patch is looking great, in just a matter of weeks I will probably be harvesting the first sticks of  Timperley Early. Garlic is looking good too despite being under a blanket of snow for weeks, plenty of healthy green top growth. I planted garlic cloves in October and December and the December bulbs are almost catching up.  I planted Jerusalem artichokes outside yesterday near the patch of rhubarb, I’m hoping the height of the plants will cast some shade during the warmer months which I’m sure the rhubarb will appreciate as it tends to sulk during prolonged hot weather and requires a lot of watering.

Daffodils, ornamental allium and chives are pushing their blade-like leaves through the soil, fresh leaf growth is appearing on the blackcurrant bush and blackberry canes and the pear tree will be in blossom very soon. Ladybirds are starting to come out of hibernation now and wild birds are looking for suitable nesting sites….the eaves of our house seems to be popular again! What have you been doing this month?