As usual I’m late with planting out my plants in the polytunnel. It has just been so hot in there! Also I’ve become programmed to work outside if the weather is at all dry, since that is normally the rarer event on Skye. The tomato plants that I managed to get in a couple of weeks ago are looking quite healthy. I especially like the look of one called ‘first in the field’ – it has a lovely thick stem and a dark green colour (front right hand corner in photo). All the others look good too, and a few are starting to show flowers, so hopefully they won’t be a complete disaster this year.
I have succeeded in planting out in the tunnel two climbing courgettes, three bush courgettes, three sharks fin melon (saved seed!) and two japanese squash. They all had a good few scoops of home made, wood ash enriched, compost mixed in to the planting hole, so should get away now despite being rather weedy looking plants. No sooner had they gone in than Harry decided that the planting recesses made a really comfortable bed! Luckily the japanese squash seemed none the worse the next morning!
I also planted out some basil which came from a friends saved seed – the best germination I’ve ever had! I guess it’s because the seed was nice and fresh. I’m going to see if I can get some of mine to set seed. That would be good to seed around in the tunnel! There are also two oca plants, which I am growing for the first time (the third went outside in the tea garden extension). The chilli peppers and aubergine probably won’t come to much, but they were free seed anyway. They’re such tiny plants I’m afraid they will be swamped in the tunnel, but they never get the attention they need in pots either with me, so this is the best option. I also had some goldenberry seeds (a type of Physalis – like the ones you sometimes get dipped in chocolate with your coffee). I gather this is a rather tender perennial that doesn’t mind poor soils (according to PFAF it can grow more leaves than fruit if the soil is too rich). Hopefully this will be able to over-winter in the polytunnel, so will add to my perennial plants in there. Although the sweetcorn plants also look a bit stunted I have given them a planting hole with extra compost and we’ll see how they do. They mostly seemed to have pretty good roots on them so may still crop albeit later in the year than they should.
In the undergrowth I found my fuchsia berry in its pot. This was a present from my Mum and had been waiting for a permanent home. Unfortunately it does seem to have suffered in the hot tunnel, but somewhat to my surprise was actually still alive! I therefore have found a suitable spot near the central path for it, and will try and keep an eye on it over the next few weeks until it is established. It does seem to have larger, sweeter berries than my garden fuchsia, although these are also quite nice when properly ripe. With regard to ripe berries, the flavour of the ‘honeyberries’ do seem to be developing. One of them definitely has some richer plummy flavours coming through now. So far they are hanging on the bushes well, so I’ll keep sampling them whilst they last.
There were four sharks fin melon plants that I did not have room for in the tunnel, so I have popped them in outside in the tea garden extension. I don’t suppose they will come to anything – they really need a longer season than they will get outside, but you never know, and they will be a bit more groundcover to keep some of the weeds down as well. There were a few more goldenberry plants as well – a little on the small side, they may fruit this year, but probably won’t overwinter. There are various seedlings appearing in this area – some of which I sowed, but a lot of docken. These I find harder to get out when they are small – the leaves tend to pull off too easily. When they are a little bigger the roots come too if you are lucky. I can see quite a few buckwheat seedlings, a very few phacelia, some wheat (not grass as I found when I pulled a bit out when weeding), quite a bit of what may be clover or alfalfa (too early to tell which yet), various brassica including a lot of fodder radish (which has very tasty pods if you allow it to go to seed), the ubiquitous kale and what may be cabbage (or sprouts?). There’s definitely a bit of leaf beet (or spinach?). The callaloo seedlings I put in seem to be doing pretty well despite the dry weather. I’ve never tried it before – its a sort of amaranth that is grown for it’s leaves. It is used quite a bit in Jamaican cookery, but apparently should grow quite well outside in the UK, we’ll see. There’s still a little bit more relatively easy weeding to do, then I need to get the paths laid and the rest of the undergrowth cut back and mulched.
The outside soft fruit are just a little way off ripe. The blackcurrants are changing colour. I’m hoping for my first harvest off the new plants in the tea garden. The berries all look a little on the small side, but plenty of them. The first raspberries are changing colour, and again I’m hoping for a good harvest there – watch this space!