Monday, 29 March 2010

What to do with the coriander and basil...?

The herb pots have been on the go for about a month now but I'm getting a little worried about the coriander and basil pots. I think that we might need to thin out the coriander as it has gone a little haywire and the stems are all very floppy and unable to support the weight of the leaves. I was wondering whether anyone had any advice on whether it will be possible to pull out and repot some of the individual plants or if that is likely to be tricky - they were grown from "seed mats". Are seed mats usually designed for the seeds to be spaced far enough apart that they shouldn't need thinning or not?

As for the basil, it just seems to be looking a little on the yellow side rather than the bright green that I was expecting. Might this be because the compost is running out of nutrients? I wasn't expecting that to happen so quickly so am thinking that probably isn't the case but can't think what else it might be unless it is also an overcrowding issue.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Need more pots!

So more repotting went on today with all except one of the tomatoes now in little pots along with all of the sunflowers and some of the oregano. This time rather than running out of compost we ran out of pots and so the chillis and the pepper will have to wait a little longer to get out of the seed tray. The kitchen table has now been pretty much engulfed in pots and once we've got them all potted up I don't think there's going to be anywhere to eat at all for a few weeks until they're big enough to be moved out onto the windowsill...

In the kitchen windowbox the two daffodils that have flowered are looking lovely and it seems that we have a bud on a very short and stumpy Jack Snipe narcissus - don't think it will be tall enough to be seen from the road at all!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

What a difference some sun makes

I've been away from the windowsills with work for the past couple of days and it's absolutely amazing how much everything has shot up with the arrival of some sun. Our two lines of rocket that we planted have popped their heads up and most of the Wahaca chillies now have two plants growing in the seed plugs. Now that we've got some more compost I think that we need to start getting on with repotting the tomatoes which have also shot up over the past couple of days.

In other news out on the kitchen windowsill the second of our daffodils has also come into bloom.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Our first flower

We have our first flower! The tallest one of our daffodils has finally flowered. I've been watching it for the past week thinking that it must be about to flower any day and finally yesterday it burst into flower. In other flower news all of the sunflowers have now come back from the brink so it must have been a lack of water that was causing the problems.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Out of compost!

Well we've had a good stab at potting up the plants from the seed tray. I thought that it would be good to repot the nasturtiums, the stronger of the sunflowers, the oregano and the tomatoes. However, we ran out of compost about half way through. So the tomatoes and some of the oregano are still in the seed trays for the moment.

It's amazing how much space everything takes up once it's potted out though... Now about half of our dining table has been taken over with pots! I'm also a little worried that when we did the repotting we might have disturbed the roots a bit too much (the soil all fell apart rather than staying in tight plugs) but I figure that it's still early in the year and we're learning as we go so if we lose a few now we've still got time to plant more up.

We also did a little more sowing and have now got a seed tray with two lines of rocket seeds in it. Looking forward to some yummy homegrown salads very shortly!

Not too cold for the peppers and chillies!

Well I had resigned myself to the fact that we weren't going to get any germinating chillies or peppers because we hadn't made it warm enough for them.

When we had planted the seed tray up we hadn't realised that people normally either place them on radiators or under propagating lamps to get them to germinate and hence had planted them with a row of tomatoes in between. However, lo and behold, this morning when I went to check the tray we've got a little pepper plant and three chillies that have all come up at the same time!

In other news it appears that one of the sunflowers that was drooping yesterday has started to fight back a little but the another one has begun to wilt. So now we've got two healthy sunflowers and three that are not looking so good. Today we will pot them up!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Disaster strikes the windowsill!

I'd just got up this morning and went to check on our little seedlings and two of the sunflowers appear to be completely wilted over! I don't know if this is because they've not had enough water or because they're getting too big for their seedling trays. I'm suspecting that it might be not enough water as they are two of the smaller sunflower shoots. Anyway, I've given them a good water this morning so hopefully they might perk up again. I did also yesterday invest in a whole load of pots and saucers so we can start repotting some of the bigger seedlings today.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

...and busy times in the kitchen

As well as a flurry of garden activity there's also been a flurry of kitchen activity over the past few days with baking and cooking galore. Over the weekend I opened my Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache book for the first time and had a cupcake baking session. All the cakes in the book have vegetables included within them and I made some orange and lemon cupcakes with butternut squash and some raspberry and elderflower cupcakes with courgette. Not sure the presentation's quite there to open up a cupcake business to rival Lola's or Treacle yet but both were delicious and vanished suprisingly fast! Also going on in the kitchen we've been baking foccacia and making roasted pepper soup for lunches at work.

Busy times on the windowsill...

Well the internet's been down for a few days so there's been no blog action since the weekend but that hasn't stopped the activity on the windowsill. Two of the daffodils are developing buds so I'm hoping that they're going to spring into flower any day soon, the coriander has developed it's first coriander shaped leaves, the nasturtiums have absolutely shot up and we've now got six little tomato seedlings too that seem to be doing fantastically.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Flower (window)garden

The longest standing members of our windowsill garden experiment haven't even been introduced yet! We planted some daffodil bulbs in a windowbox outside our kitchen window back in November and all seven bulbs are doing well. We've got three different types in there, one of which was supposed to flower in January (!!) and the other two March/April flowering varieties. To date we've got lots of green shoots but no flowers.

Here's some photos of the daffodils story so far...

Snow covered - December 2009

Peeping through - (Early) February 2010

Getting taller - (Late) February 2010

Friday, 12 March 2010

Sunflowers and nasturtiums

Well the sunflowers and nasturtiums seem to have just shot up. It's 2 days since the first sunflower popped out and only 6 since we planted them last weekend. Now we've got four sunflowers and six nasturtiums on the go. The sunflowers had started to hit the clingfilm so I've removed it from the top of the flower rows to let them stretch out taller.

Elsewhere in our seed tray the oregano seems to be doing well and a couple of tomatoes are starting to peek out.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Parsley and mint!

Well over the last couple of days since we did all of the planting the parsley and mint have sprouted so now we've got our full complement of herbs from the seeds we planted in pots a few weekends ago! At the moment we've got just one solitary parsley plant and several absolutely tiny mint plants. Meanwhile the coriander continues to shoot up and the chives are going from strength to strength...

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Wahaca chillis

So the chillis that we have planted are serrano chillies are from a matchbook that came free of charge when we paid the bill following a very tasty meal at Wahaca. Hoping for great things and that as well as the lovely dinner that we had there, we've got many more lovely dinners to come from our chilli crop.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The seeds are in!

So today the majority of the seeds have gone in. Not wanting the windowboxes to be completely devoid of flowers we have planted seeds of a mixture of veggies but kept a few flowers in there too...

From the "pizza and pasta pot" collection we've got some tumbling tomatoes (Lycopersicon lycopersicum), some sweet peppers (Capsicum annum), some serrano chillis and some Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare). To add some colour to windowboxes (and because I love sunflowers!) we've got some Irish Eyes sunflowers (Helianthus annus) and some nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) whose leaves we should be able to add to some tasty salads as well as the flowers looking pretty. All are dwarf varieties so hopefully they should be able to cope in our windowboxes.

The seed tray is now nestled on the table in between the herb pots and some bread dough that is rising in the late afternoon sunlight and the stock is bubbling away on the stove so that it's ready in time to stir in to tonights risotto.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails

I do have a little previous gardening experience... A couple of years ago I spent a year living up in a little town called Menai Bridge in Anglesey. We had a lovely house that looked right out over the Menai Strait and when the summer came we were excited at the prospect of getting out in the garden and growing our own fruit and vegetables. Keen and eager we got in the grow bags and planted them up with salad leaves, tomatoes, courgettes and strawberries.

All were doing fabulously and then the slugs hit! With a dog living next door we didn't want to put down and slug pellets. But no matter what we tried they kept on coming back - beer, cracked egg shells and straw just couldn't stop the power of the Anglesey slug population and we ended up losing nearly all our lovely produce! Due to my distress and disbelief at the sheer number of slugs that there could be in one small garden my boyfriend bought me the fabulous book "50 ways to kill a slug" to bring a smile to my face.

I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for better luck this year and that we won't get too many slugs up in the windowsill garden!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Two weekends ago

We were lucky enough to be given for Christmas by my boyfriend's brother a starter kit for getting going with our edible window boxes. Goodies included some window troughs, seed trays, a trowel and seeds to get us going on a "pizza and pasta pot". Two weekends ago we planted up some of the herb seed mats in little pots.

We left them covered in clingfilm on the table by the window and 11 days later the basil, coriander and chives have popped their heads up! As of yet there's still no sign of the parsley or mint... Fingers crossed they're just taking their time.

How it all began...

A keen cook, inspired by Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook and Nigel Slater's Tender, I have decided in 2010 to see how much I can grow on three sunny windowsills in my first floor London flat. Fully armed with seeds, pots and plenty of enthusiasm I intend to chart my successes and no doubt failures on these pages and hope to get a tasty meal or two at the end of it!

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