After carefully nurturing the sweetcorn in pots, until I had cleared the first bed of potatoes, I finally got to plant out the sweetcorn this weekend.
I dug up a root of the Sharpes Express potatoes I had previously planted 12 weeks ago and was very disappointed with the results, as they were so tiny.
I guess this is down to the colder-than-normal-weather we have had this Spring.
However, I did cook them and they tasted delicious.
Hopefully another week or two and they should be a reasonable size.
Now is the time to buy your seed potatoes and get chitting. There are three main types of potatoes; first earlies, second earlies and main crop.
I decided to investigate the first early potatoes (variety Rockets) that I planted on 9 March and discovered quite a large potato – a bit bigger than I would have liked for new potatoes, but I suspect the warm, wet weather we’ve had recently has made them grow rapidly. I dug up the first root and this was the result. I added a sprig of mint in the saucepan when cooking them and they smelt and tasted delicious!
I also picked another 2.25lbs of strawberries. I saved this tray from some I bought at the supermarket last year. Strawberries bruise easily and spreading and storing them like this is ideal for a longer storage time.
The lettuces I planted in the greenhouse about a month ago are growing well in the mild weather.
I have started to crop the larger leaves, leaving the plants to continue growing.
Now it’s started to get a little colder, the greenhouse has been lined with some bubble-wrap to try and prolong the life of the lettuces!
To check the sweetcorn is ripe you need to peel back the outer layers of husks to reveal the kernels. Sometimes the kernels near the top of the ear of sweetcorn may not have developed, so it’s always worth checking further down the cob. Sometimes the ears of corn don’t get properly fertilised so not all of the kernels develop. The rest of the sweetcorn is still edible, just cut off the under developed part of the cob.
Use your thumbnail to puncture a kernel. If the liquid is translucent and milky then the sweetcorn is ready for harvesting. If it is still watery and clear then they are not yet ready and you need to replace the husks.
The first year I grow sweetcorn, I kept leaving the cobs thinking they weren’t ready. In fact it was just that the top kernels that had not developed properly. We ended up with over-ripe cobs which were rather dry!
Pick the cobs as close to when you are going to cook them as possible. Once picked, the sugar in the kernels turn rapidly to starch. They can easily go past their best in a day or two. This is the reason why it is worth growing your own, as shop ones just don’t taste as sweet!
Picked our first sweetcorn cobs of the season for our tea today. They were delicious. Sweet and juicy!
Picked my first ripe tomato today and ceremoniously ate it for lunch – it was delicious. The rest of the tomatoes are still looking very green though, so I have removed some of the leaves on the plants, to help them ripen.
The runner beans are not coping well in this hot weather and the beans are going to seed before they get the chance to grow. Have been watering them every few days, but all it does is keeps them alive, just!
The aphids are still a huge problem, making the plants look sick with curling up the leaves. The organic insecticide we used, I think, was ineffective – possibly been in the shed too long. Tried spraying some diluted Ecover washing-up liquid on the leaves yesterday, which may have helped, it’s difficult to tell. However, found some ladybird eggs on the underside of some of the leaves tonight, so am going to give the ladybird larvae a chance to eat the aphids before any more spraying. Spotted two ladybirds as well, one of which was spotless!
The runner beans are still not big enough to pick at the moment and I suspect they don’t like this heat. Unfortunatley they are severely infested with blackfly, even though I planted marigolds around the plants. Despite our best efforts we cannot seem to get rid of the blackfly by squashing them. Even spent an hour the other night hosing them off, only for them to return the following day. Have now resorted to using an organic insecticide, suitable for vegetables.
I discovered a lone ladybird on the beans tonight, the first seen this year – just need a few more to join him!
We are picking the climbing beans most days. They get placed in a bag in the freezer and kept for winter meals. They seem to freeze better than the runner beans, which seem to get a peculiar taste when frozen. Strangely these beans do not have any blackfly on the leaves at all. Even some runners planted in the same row have blackfly, but not the climbing beans.