Tag Archives: winter lettuce

The new season begins – at last!

Much to my surprise the asparagus has made an appearance; new shoots are showing all over the bed. After the long cold winter I thought it would be very late but it is only a week or so behind last year.

At last we are just starting to pick purple spouting. That is about a month later than last year. We have also had some lettuce out of the polytunnel and solar pod. Not much survived only about six head of Valdor. The rest seem to have succumbed to the harsh frosts or rotted off at the base of the stem. This year I will only sow Valdor as it has been consistently the best performer.

I am still holding back on sowing seed in open ground as we have been getting night frosts. The thermometer in the polytunnel (2m above ground) has recorded lows of -3C  and highs of 35c over the last week. We did manage to get some carrots and beetroot into one the pods.

The big decision this year is to take six beds out of veg production and plant apple and pear trees; the extra fruit will be very welcome.

Success and failure, another gardening year

It has been a mild and gentle autumn which means plants have been growing well including the weeds. We got the planning right this year and sowed winter salad crops in September. The result is a supply of fresh cut and come again leaves from the polytunnel. There are also over wintering hearted lettuce that look the best ever. The winter lettuce varieties we use are Erika, Valdor, Winter Density and new this year  Winter Gem (Vaila.)

As an experiment there are also a row of carrots in the tunnel. They germinated well but remain very small and I doubt they will come to much. The same happened to the spinach (Giant Winter) it is there but small.

We had looked forward to a huge crop of sweet corn this year but the warm damp weather caused most of the cobs to rot on the plants. The leeks (Musselburgh) have a lot of rust on the leaves but it does not seem to be affecting the harvest. This was yet another season of moulds and most of the autumn fruiting raspberries (Autumn Bliss) rotted on the vines.

In the rest of the garden the Brussels Sprouts are cropping well and since the first real frost they are sweet and delicious. In the same bed is purple spouting which also looks good. The bed is kept covered with enviromesh not because there are any cabbage white butterflies around to lay eggs but to keep the pheasants off as they totally destroyed the spouting earlier this year.

Talking of  cabbage whites some cabbage plants were transplanted into a bed with free space and not covered. After a few days they were attacked by caterpillars (worms in the US) and looked like they would not survive. The caterpillars were picked off and the bed covered with net. We are now eating the cabbage as the hearts are fine.

A similar thing happened with some cauliflower plants. They did not do well after transplanting and were just left in the bed but are now producing some very welcome late caulis. It just goes to show that you should never give up!

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We are picking  lettuce, leeks, parsnips, celeriac, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots as well as eating the frozen veg from earlier in the year and potatoes in store. There is a good supply of apples but some have scab. They do not look very nice but once peeled they are delicious.

Now is the time for seed catalogues to come out and plan for next year, who knows what that will bring as the weather is so unpredictable now.

Winter lettuce – the survivors

In September of last year I posted details of which over wintering lettuce would be planted, see post here. Things did not go to plan and the seeds were not sown in the solar pods until 30 October 2008 which was much too late. Of the original varieties planted, only Valdor, Winter Density and Erika germinated.

I did not bother much with them thinking that the cold winter would have killed them as they were just small seedlings. About a month ago it was a big surprise to see that three varieties had survived the winter and were growing.

The photograph below shows, from left to right,  Valdor, Winter Density and Erika growing well. The Bergamo on the extreme right did not germinate. Poor germination was down to the late sowing and not the seed or variety. We are eating the thinnings and will sow much earlier this year!

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Update 09 Apr 2009
The lettuce are all growing well and giving a fresh supply early in the season. I really must sow earlier this year so that they mature next February!