Hello to the second half of July! The past three weeks we enjoyed some rain, more rain, but then luckily the rain made place for some more rain. Maximum temperature was 18 degrees Celsius which translates to “very cold” in Fahrenheit. Luckily my heat-loving crops are in the polytunnel so I had the weird situation that while it was raining outside… I had to go water the indoors tomatoes, peppers and eggplants! And I promise, this much rain this time of year is not super extraordinary in The Netherlands, but it is somewhat less rare than in less green countries in Europe.
So looking outside, I had to clear the patches of coreander, dill and chervil (already earlier) because they drowned. Then I resowed them because wet is good for germination, and now they are just sticking their little primary leaves aboveground. Leaks and spring onions are doing great on all this water, and the gurkins and cucumbers don’t seem to mind either. My outdoor tomatoes though, simply grew more leaves and stems, but not more flowers. The strawberries stopped doing anything and only now the temperature is somewhat back to normal new blossoms are sprouting.
It rained so much that in the 2nd batch the roots of the just sowed new batch of radishes washed clean. This means that I could put more earth on them, but horiztonal radishes grow very weird and for the most part, not. So that is 90% ruined. The fennel is ok, the beets also were unearthed by all the water and the garlic… the garlic started to rot at the stems where they come out of the ground. I dried them as well as I could as soon as it was a bit dry, but one of them was too far gone, so I decided to ‘harvest’ it. It was tiny, as you can see on the picture but delicious!
In the third bed I had just sowed new radishes, beets and 4 kinds of lettuces, next to new spinach, because there was just enough time this year still to have a second harvest of it. The lettuce enjoyed the wetness, but the radishes and beets did not! I had to put more earth on top and cover the roots again, and most probably this harvest is a goner.
With all that rain, the beans took a jump and we had broad beans and garden peas for dinner a few times, and by now the butterbeans and string beans are happily growing. Oh dear oh dear! Well… this is experiment year and all can not go superb all the time.
A propos Superb… The polytunnel is a different story! Was I initially worried a bit because the soil wasn’t fantastic and the plants remained quite small, the past two months the tomatoes gained the will to grow and for the past 3 weeks, so did the peppers and the eggplants. I will put some pictures of before and after so it is clear what I mean…
This is a week after the plants were put in the ground from their cosy spot in the nursery. I first put the pots outside in the tunnel to let them get used to changing temperatures. This was beginning of May. A week later they went in the ground and they looked so cute…. and fragile.
For the remainder of May nothing much happened, yes, they grew a bit but one could not say you could stay there and see them grow. Even worse so with the eggplants. They look like they really didn’t feel like growing at all and I felt like I wanted to pull the plants up to make them grow! Grrrrrr… More important than water and plantfood however…. is patience.
Then mid June the tomatoes started to grow and soon the tops of the plants were touching the top bar of the bamboo frame. And all this time I was thieving the plants to prevent empty branches from using up too much energy. Well… I found out something very useful for next year: Climbing tomatoes produce thieves… that actually produce blossoms! Except that, just like with the main stem, the first 50% does not. On the first picture it would not have been wise already to clip the first half of the plant free of sidebranches. On the second picture I already emptied the first 60 cm of the main stem free of sidebranches, but you don’t see it because there is a rainforest growing on top. If you wonder about the heights, the first picture has the plants at around 1m30-1m50 (4-5 feet). The second picture shows them at 2m+, 7 feet tall and touching the roof before they grow sideways. Also not easy to see are the sidebranches above 1 meter height, some of them are over 1m50 long and grow through the other plants, all of them baring blossom or fruit! Most of the tomato plants also split themselves in 2 main stems or 3 or 4, each going in a slightly different direction but still up. I didn’t know tomatoes did that! I knew it of peppers, but not tomatoes.
As for the eggplants (aubergines), the first picture shows them at 40-50 cm, which only happened end of June. That was also the time where they started to produce beautiful purple, yellow and white flowers. I was afraid that like this, the eggplants would hang down in touch the ground, but my fear was unfounded: in the past 2 weeks, they doubled in height! The first picture is a close up, the second picture was taken in the dooropening of the tunnel. And yes here I also took some of the lower level leaves away. By the way, the leaves of eggplants are in general very fluffy, with tiny white ‘hairs’ on both sides of the leaf. Except for the Thai green pea eggplant: those ‘hairs’ aren’t cute at all and the leaves feel like a cactus! Way in the back you see two peppersorts growing. At the far end it is Poseidon, a generic type of bell pepper, a bit sweeter than normal and before that I planted some Jalapeno. Those do strangely well here, even though they are supposed to be (sub)tropical. They also do great outside in acidic soil in the forest, because I am experimenting with what I can put outside and what not. By the way, here a Jalapeno pepper is considered ‘mild’.Next time I hope to be able to show some finished veg and tomatoes!
Read on IN THE NEXT PART…