I have no idea what I thought I was doing – brain in neutral!
I sowed a bunch of seeds last week Broccoli, Calabrese, Cauliflower, Courgette, Kohl Rabi, three types of Lettuce, a couple more types of Melon, some Swedes … AND …3 sorts of sweetcorn. All in my new trusty propagator.
I’d like to say I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night worrying about it … but that sort of thing doesn’t really happen, does it?! Although … when we were on holiday a couple of weeks ago one night I couldn’t sleep because I kept dreaming I had bought the wrong sorts of vegetable seeds and the turmoil kept waking me up. Now that at least was true – some sort of Altitude sickness apparently – well, something beginning with “A” anyway!! But I digress …
I realised that the last thing I should have done was sow Sweetcorn in a propagator – I should have just “chitted” the seed on wet kitchen paper in a tray and then planted in pots the moment the roots had appeared. I looked in the propagator and the shoots had just appeared – panic!
So I “dug” them up with my trusty pencil (called “Dibber”, like all good gardener’s pencils) and planted them in some paper pots I’ve been trying this season. I formed them about a WD-40 tin, which has a nice concave base which shapes the “pot base” nicely, and as luck would have it I also had a slightly narrower spray paint can with a nicely rounded plastic lid – which I could use to ram the base and tighten it up. I couldn’t believe how long the tap root was of the Sweetcorn in only 3 days – these paper pots, which are 13cm high and 6cm diameter, are going to be much better than regular 3″ / 9cm plastic pots.
Some Sweetcorn seed chitted in 2015. I’ve found that it is prone to rotting, and it seems best to just have some damp, not soaking-wet, kitchen paper under the seed and nothing over the top. Here just covered with cling film, but important it doesn’t dry out so a Tupperware lid that provides closed high humidity would be better. These have been left far too long, as you can see!, but pricked out were very happy
Well, they have got too big, so I’ve planted them out. I try not to plant out anything tender until 1st June to be sure I have missed the last frost. I have made a note on my Crop Plan to sow later next year.
Even though it looks a muddle I managed to tease the roots apart and plant them out, but time will tell how they fare.
I have planted some in the greenhouse
and also a few early climbing French Beans
which join some Lettuces and Leaf Beet planted earlier, and the tubs and gro-bags of First Early Potatoes.
I picked the first Mini Pop Sweetcorn (the unripe ones that kids love) from the greenhouse. The kids thought they tasted really good (compared to the ones from the Supermarket). Definitely going to do that again next year.
The other greenhouse Sweetcorn (Swift F1) are nearly ready too.
I think the whole “Plant in a block” thing needs thought. I think being told to plant them in a block, rather than a row, encourages sowing the whole packet in one go. I’ve got 15 plants in the greenhouse, and 21 outside (from the same packet’s sowing) – so I could have wound up with 36 plants. The plants are producing two cobs each, and the harvest will last, start-to-finish, what? a couple of weeks, three maybe? That’s between 3.5 and 5 COBS A DAY!
Next year I’m going to sow in succession, 9 plants at a time – the previous batch will probably still be producing pollen when the next batch is ready to be pollinated
The Swift F1, in order to crop within the UK Summer, are quite dwarf, and have worked well in the Greenhouse – just reaching the roof. The Mini Pop, on the other hand, are an old fashioned variety and have hit the roof! I have removed the male flower from the top, to prevent them pollinating, which had reduced their height by a foot or so
This is how they looked on 02-June:
The male flower appears on the Swift F1 on 02-June
Growth rate is amazing, this is 6 days later – 08-June-2009. View from the door:
and view towards the door:
Melons near the window, Tomatoes on the right, Peppers (both Sweet and Chilli) will be planted between the two shortly
The Mini Pop are shooting up too – they are an old fashioned cultivar, and therefore not as short as the new-style short-season Swift F1
The plants elongate, but even so the Male flowers, on the Swift F1 (being shorter, to mature during a shorter growing season), are held proudly without the plant hitting the roof! (my greenhouse has a shallow pitch, and the eaves are relatively low)
The Mini Pop, however, being an old fashioned variety are heading straight for the roof!
11 days later, on 29-June, the growth rate is still hard to believe – you can just make ou the Mini Pop at the far end of the greenhouse, on the left
I’ve now planted the Peppers between the Tomatoes (left) and Melons (right)
The Swift F1 look about the same, but I’ve been pollinating them by shaking the plants each day (around noon, there doesn’t seem to be much pollen first thing in the morning, or last thing at night)
Quite a lot of pollen is collecting on the leaves. I wonder if I could use this and transfer it to the silks? Its very sticky, so hard to actually remove from the leaves, and as such this effect probably occurs more indoors, than outdoors – where wind pollination will cause the pollen to drift further
Slight aside: the Climbing French beans I planted in the greenhouse look very healthy, but have barely flowered, and have even-more-barely set any bean pods. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but I expect they will come the same time as my outside plants, and make an even bigger glut!
The Mini Pop have well-and-truly hit the roof – and this is after I have removed the male flowers from the tips – which would have added 12″ – 18″ more!
Oh! and a sneaky photo of the Cucumbers too. They are cropping really well (I aim to grow two plants, but as they are reputed to die so easily! I have three this year just-in-case). All the neighbours are about Cucumbered-out already, and I think I may have to get a market stall … you can probably just about make out the clear plastic mold on one of the fruit; this is a gimick I bought (at VAST expense last year from Japan) which makes the Cucumbers grow heart-shaped; the kids think it is amusing, but the mold is a little small for a full sized cucumber, so I start them off using it, then let them mature without the mold – they still, sort-of, hold their shape.
Oh, and we’ve got some Sweet Peppers coming along nicely too
This is how the Swift F1, planted outside the same day as the greenhouse crop, are looking
and, likewise, the outdoor Mini Pop crop