Growing My Very Own Vegetables

- Season 2013 -

If you joined me and my vegetables last season (below), you must remember that the weather conditions were particularly bad for tomatoes last year. This time around, I decided that I would do whatever it would take to secure a decent tomatoes harvest. By mid-August it was starting to be obvious that the season would be well over before my tomatoes would see the light of the day, so I called for extra measures! And my husband answered :)

He built a simple cover to protect my tomatoes from the inminent cold (September in the UK!). It looked like this:

With this protection in place, we managed to get some cherry tomatoes:

Well formed and lovely, but not much of a production!

Next step consisted in adding a heater and a thermometre to the tomato greenhouse!

Now the vegetables started to grow at a faster rate...

..., orangy tomatoes began to appear here and there...

..., and even some red ones!

Finally, after two weeks in warmer conditions, we could produce enough tomatoes for a proper Sunday salad, and, hopefully, this is just the beginning (Oct 6th)!!

I will keep you posted. Wish us luck :)

- Season 2012 -

Well, at the moment more than growing vegetables for my food recipes this is more of a wishful thinking exercise...The fact is that two years ago, I first tried to produce something edible in my garden. I started very timidly with some herbs on pots, and I have to say that I love the feeling of going to the garden, scissors in hand, to freshly cut the herbs that few seconds later would be aromatising my dishes. Not to mention the exquisite aromas that these herbs released at night when I watered them...

I have grown “stuff” before, but never with the intention of eating it! In fact, that would have been so gross! I am referring to the many years I have spent in my career as scientist (ex-career I should say, still somehow hard to admit though), growing cell lines under the strictest laboratory conditions. I had often been told that I had “green hands”, because honestly, under my care, living creatures just didn’t die. I could always tell when my cells were happy, or stressed out, or lonely, or bored...

I guess these are transferable skills. It is just a matter of exchanging the culture media for compost and the incubator in the lab for a sunny spot in the garden!

Slowly, - still “a capella” - I started seeding tomatoes, peppers, chilis, aubergines, etc, taking advantage of a sort of bright shed in our garden, inherited from the former house owners, and then transplanting the seedlings into pots... Somehow, I managed to have a nice production of vegetables for my food recipes, not big in quantity, but delicious in quality and achievement!

Funny enough, it was the smell of tomato and pepper leaves what brought me back very old memories from my father’s plantations, back in Mendoza, Argentina. His focus was on grapes. Montecaseros’s locals, within the San Martin district, still talk about the legendary production of the “espalderos Petrich”, the family pride. He would also grow in a much lower scale seasonal vegetables such as plum tomatoes, peppers, and even the sweetest melons and watermelons. The latest two mainly for family consumption. I still remember the back room facing the garage (straight forward unloading) in our house literally full with melons and watermelons during harvest season. The smell was the sweetest ever...

Last year, and already in the middle of my house extension works, the garden was turned into a warehouse deposit for construction materials. I couldn’t even reach the garden, let alone growing crops...

By March this year the garden was back, but without any provision for crops decided, until my husband rightly interpreted my sad staring into the garden and decided to build me a raised bed where to grow our veggies. Great! It looks nice and now I don’t need all those bits-and-pieces pots around the garden because all the veggies grow tidily together in the raised bed. He bought online one of those Lego-style sets and built a lovely crop area in a couple of hours. Perfect. Now I am back, and intending to have a good go at those vegetables!

Today, March 24th 2012, I have just transplanted seedling of tomatoes, peppers, chilis, and lettuces. I was decided to follow thoroughly all the instructions, until I realised that I had far too many seedlings for my raised bed area if I was intending to keep the recommended distance between them.

Well, I just had to reduce the distance then, let’s see... I planted the lettuce in between the tomatoes, peppers and chilis to optimise the available space.

I will keep you updated on the advances. So far I am amazed at the growing speed of the tomatoes! Stay posted, I am planning to add pictures of my crop regularly...

Report on Week 1

One week has passed and my little plants look healthy and happy!

The weather has been unusually warm and sunny for this time of the year (and for England!) what contributed to my seedlings growing considerably this week.

But now temperature is quite low at night (snow in Scotland!) and I am fearing frost...I am taking my precautions and am protecting my vegetables with plastic and cardboard covers when sun sets down. Fingers crossed!!

Report on Week 2

Crops looking good,...

...protecting them from frost has worked so far.

Uncovered by day, under cover at night, ...

...hopefully the frost risk is over (April!).

Report on Week 3

Finally frost scares are over (??)...

... and crops are starting to look taller...

and bigger!

Finger crossed for good weather :) !!

Report on Week 4

And I thought that the scares were over!

Hail storm over Bristol...

Fortunately, my vegetables seems to have coped well with it :)

Report on Week 6

The last two weeks it have been rain, rain, and more rain. That means good and bad news for my crop.
The good news are that the water seems to have been wonderful for my lettuces: hard to believe how much they have grown in only two weeks!!

The bad news are that it looks that this year I will have to buy chili peppers and tomatoes because so much water and so little sun has done nothing good for them. They are in size as they were two weeks ago and their overall look is not very good :( .

Finger crossed the weather will improve and my little plants would be able to catch up...

Report on Week 8

The lettuces are gorgeous!!! I have had my first home grown salad and tasted sublime. At the moment my salad only have lettuces from the garden, since the rain has stopped the growing of tomatoes and chillis - you can find the chillis under the lettuces now :( .
Eventually, with enough sun, they will be reach the right size!!

Report on Week 10

We are eating so much salad these days!! Delicious and crispy, straight from the garden to the sink for a quick wash and to our table in just few minutes!

Even though, we have to hurry up, otherwise with so much rain the lettuces that stays too long in the soil start getting yellowish...

The rest of my vegetables are growing up too!! The tomatoes are about to overgrow the support sticks and will need longer ones very soon...

Report on Week 12

Well, the crop now looks like a mini-jungle! The tomatoes have definitely overgrown the support sticks by now at the point that I cannot longer see the sticks anymore.

Even the other vegetables I felt tempted to plant few weeks ago, like potatoes, onions, garlic, have grown beyond believe!

And my lettuces are still gorgeous...

...growing under the shade of the "big ones".

Report on week 25

Well, it has been interesting...The summer is over (officially today autumn starts!) and I guess I have to accept the fact that the tomatoes and peppers project was not successful. Not as an excuse, but as an explanation, please read the sign below:

Basically, the weather played havoc in UK this year and most

vegetables were ruined :( .

Below there are some pictures to prove it.


Once upon a time, the tomatoes plants were looking gorgeous and full of juicy promise...

...and getting bigger and bigger. Such a massive production coming along!

They even began to get some lovely colour, although very late in the season. I still had high hopes for them.

But soon it was clear that something was not right...

The plants started to look dry and the fruits rotten.

I could not harvest one single tomatoe!!!

With the peppers it was even worse: no plant survived, all died. They never got bigger that the size they reached by week 4!

I cheated and bought one pepper plant already grown up and with fruits, from a nursery garden.

It managed to get redder, but the taste and the texture was not fine.

Potatoes, garlics and onions seems fine, fingers crossed!

Well, quite disappointing indeed. I have had such a massive production of chilis before that I was really counting on having a big storage of them this summer to use during the winter months. Not to mention all the tomatoes salads that I was fantasising with!

But not all was a disaster. I had lovely, gorgeous lettuces, huge and crispy, delicious. And the potatoes, garlics and onions are doing well so far.

Well, what can I say? Hope for better weather next time, because I am sure I will try again. Meanwhile, I could learn more about crop techniques to maximise my chances of success.

Hope you accompany me again next season!

Are you a beginner like me? Or are you a consummated expert in the field? Please feel free to comment and add suggestions, highlight my mistakes or just tell us about your own crops. We would love to hear your stories...and if you want to share your knowledge, even better!!

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