Moving outdoors

With the weather that bit warmer now, I took the cucumber plunge today and moved five plants out of their pots and into one of the raised beds. Notoriously temperamental, my cucumbers varied from healthy looking to poorly looking.

Cucumbers gathered ready for planting out

Cucumbers gathered ready for planting out

First cucumber picked

First cucumber picked…

The Grandal variety had a nice ripe fruit hiding behind one of its big leaves. They say they’re best picked at 3 inches / 7.5cm long so that’s what I did. And sliced it into tonight’s dinner: halloumi cheese on potatoes, with various vegetables.

...  and sliced into dinner

… and sliced into dinner

The home grown ingredients were the cucumber, chives, basil and parsley. Later in the year I’ll hopefully have the potatoes and tomatoes too. If someone invents a halloumi cheese plant in the meantime, I’m definitely interested.

Water-averse stems protected by plastic bottles

Water-averse stems protected by plastic bottles

In the ground, the plants’ bases are protected by old plastic water bottles, not just as a barrier for slugs. Cucumber stems don’t like getting wet at all and will easily rot if they do. The plastic barrier should help keep them dry come watering time. Higher up, the plants are supported by branches that I cut off the dormant grape vines in February.

Cucumber plants supported by grape branches

Cucumber plants supported by grape branches

One of the things which makes plants seem ‘alive’ to me is the way certain varieties wrap their tendrils round other things to hold themselves securely upright.

Pea plant tendrils gripping for support

Pea plant tendrils gripping for support

Today I was trying to encourage some pea plants to do so. The tendrils were strong enough that I was able to tie them like shoelaces round a twig .. amazing.

If need be, you can tie them like shoelaces

If need be, you can tie them like shoelaces

In the same bed the lettuces are coming along well. The frilly Mazur variety have already graced my work sandwiches, but I’m letting the Little Gem, just beyond them, heart up more before lifting any.

Lush, leafy lettuces

Lush, leafy lettuces

I got through a lot of bamboo and string later, making some structure for the Spagna Bianco bean plants to support themselves against. These are the reserve plants I grew when the originals were ravaged by some soil-borne pest a while ago.

Bamboo and string supporting beans

Bamboo and string supporting beans

The survivors are still there and doing reasonably, but I do worry that the mystery pest is still around. Despite applying nematodes, insect powder and slug pellets I half expect to find just stalks in the morning. And the long stems still being fairly delicate I’ve put a fleece barrier round them to keep off what can still be quite cool and strong winds at the moment.

Fleece barrier protecting the plants from wind

Fleece barrier protecting the plants from wind

Fingers crossed they’ll be OK. The large white beans are plentiful and delicious.

It’s always nice to see the first colours other than green appearing at this time of year. From a small pot of young purple basil, to shoots of a wonderful variety of lettuce called Rosedale. Also the Karmen red onions are showing their true colours at ground level.

Colourful young basil

Colourful young basil

Purple Rosedale lettuce

Purple Rosedale lettuce

Karmen red onions

Karmen red onions

The red onions were planted just over two months ago and still have a lot of growing to do. Nearby are the over-wintered Japanese white onions I planted as sets back in October. After nearly eight months in the ground, they’re taking on their round shape well.

Over-wintered onions bulbing up quickly now

Over-wintered onions bulbing up quickly now

A couple have made moves towards bolting though, throwing up a flower spike which I’ve snipped off straight away. As a consolation, those spikes happen to be delicious chopped into a stir fry. Yum!

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