Monday, 11 April 2011

Taking stock

The front windowsill: tomatoes, castor beans, chayote, Lobelia and Nicotiana

We had another heatwave this weekend. I was partially bedridden with a bad cold, but yesterday I forced myself out, to take advantage - I needed to start repairing the wall against which my second greenhouse will stand. Well, I started last year, but right at the end of the summer, and the weather stopped me finishing. This wall is old, old as the house (approaching 100), and facing west, it gets a lot of weather damage. I painted it the best part of a decade ago, but the bricks are rough from frost damage, and the mortar had almost completely crumbled away in places. So I'm doing what I did to the similarly-damaged house walls last summer: scraping, brushing down, then filling up with cement ('exterior filler'), and painting to leave a rough but weatherproof surface.

The wall has to be dry before I start, and takes a good day to dry, so I need long periods of dry weather to attempt it. That's why, even feeling as rough as I did, I was at the top of a ladder, with a hawk (the flat tray on which you mix and hold plaster) and a pointing trowel in hand. I got enough done to feel some satisfaction, and a bit of digging, levelling, and sawing through the ancient privet I intend to finally eradicate this year.

Anyway, the heat was surprising. We're lucky here to get two consecutive plus-20ºC days even in midsummer, so in April it's a real bonus. It was even warm enough Saturday night to be outside in a t-shirt after dark. Sadly, the weather broke, and this morning it has rained a lot. But that's okay, it contributes to the fast growth we've been experiencing, the green that's taken over everywhere. Meanwhile, indoors, things are getting difficult. I have more plants lacking a place on the windowsill than squeezed on there, and some are starting to suffer from a lack of heat and light. So I'm going to set up a table in another room, that gets a little light, though is nowhere near a perfect solution. I simply need to get the greenhouses fixed up - not too easy without a cordless drill (the one I used to build the first greenhouse last year sadly died over the winter), but I'll have to make do (another reason I need dry, fine weather. (The preceding paragraphs were written on Monday; the following are from two days later - hope that's not confusing! I've been pretty ill).

So how many plants am I harbouring now? I though I'd do another list, to compare with this one a fortnight ago.

Basil seedlings, ready to be pricked out

Indoor plants and seedlings as of Wednesday
13th April:
  • 305 tomatoes
  • 24 beetroot
  • 61 chicory
  • 14 okra
  • 14 calabrese (broccoli)
  • 15 Delphinium
  • 7 melons
  • 142 basil
  • 1 chayote
  • 36 aubergines
  • 46 Cosmos
  • 24 Eschscholzia
  • 32 castor beans
  • 13 shallots
  • 19 nasturtiums
  • 14 mixed herbs (dill and parsley)
  • 12 sunflowers
  • 8 cabbages
  • 6 peas
  • 5 beans
  • 20 chillies
Total 818

Today I sowed the first pumpkin ('Uchiki Kuri') and summer squash ('Crookneck'), and potted up the okra; later I'll do the 'Sub Arctic Plenty' tomatoes, which are living up the their reputation and growing fast. I expect I'll hit 1000 plants by the end of the month...


Sally said...

Such an impressive tally! You are going to have the most delicious food all summer long. It's a pity the sun has gone in again now as it just makes the idea of picking produce seem just that little bit further away but your plants look well under way regardless.
The tomato and basil harvest is going to be amazing!

Scyrene said...

Thanks! I hope so... at the moment I'm worried they'll start dying off before I can get them outside. I'm lucky to have some plants that have survived the winter (spinach and chard), so harvest time should be very soon (not counting nettles and dandelions, which I put to good use before eradicating). As for basil, I love it so much - I'm trying a good half-dozen types this year.

Extra special thanks for the first ever comment on my blog! :)