Onions are a great crop for most gardeners.  This year I didn’t grow any red onions because they didn’t last well in previous years. The shallots did well and they were harvested a month ago.  At that stage, I was worried about the regular onions as they seemed very small.  But in the last month they grew very well and it looks a great crop.  I grew them under Envirogrid that I purchased from Quickgrow.  I had put the onion sets in seed trays in the greenhouse to get them started as had found this fantastic the previous year.  I had to hold from planting them in the ground until late April because of the wet ground. They were more than happy to be released into the ground.   I found the Envirogrid  fantastic as the onions needed no weeding at all.

It is quite easy to know when onions are ready for harvesting.  The leaves start to turn colourful and flop over. Gently pull them by the neck or if necessary use a small fork. Drying onions, or curing onions as it is often called, is necessary before storing.   I took half the crop out a week ago on a sunny day and left outside for two days to allow clay to dry. I brushed this off gently.   Then I put them into the greenhouse for a week.  The staging worked very well for this.  Onions should be treated carefully.  They bruise very easily and it’s best to handle them as carefully as you would handle eggs. I lined them up on the staging not letting them touch each other.  After a week, I brought them into to the garage to dry them out on a flat surface as some of leaves were still green and the necks were still soft.  When they are dry in approximately 2/3 weeks,   I will hang them in the garage for the winter.  It is important that they are completely dry before putting into storage.   

I took the second half of the crop out yesterday when it was pouring rain.  I felt there was little point leaving them out.  Two tier Staging comes included in the price with all Landmark greenhouses.  I also have a freestanding staging .  I hung the last batch to dry in the garage.  I know it’s preferable to give them a couple of days in the fresh air before taking them indoors but weather did not allow this. I’ll see how they compare to the earlier batch.  I had a few onions that bolted and I will use these first as they won’t last.

I stored the onions in the garage.  It has two windows and they are near the light at the moment, but when they are dry, I will hang them in a darker part of the garage.  In fact this year I will cut the leaves off some of the crop and store them in plastic baskets.  It will be easier to check on them and remove any that are in bad condition.   If it goes below -4 degrees, I will need to take them into the house. In this case the baskets will be easier to manage.

It seems a long time since we sowed seeds and at last we are able to try some of the produce. The radishes,  beetroot,  carrots and delicious white turnip have been great.  What didn’t do too well were the Spring Onions.  They look miserable.  In fact the seeds planted later are more advanced than seeds sown earlier.  Leeks are coming along nicely.  I plant the seeds in small pots. They seem to take ages to propagate and I felt they hadn’t taken.  Then one by one growth appeared. After a few weeks I planted them in the ground.  They seemed so tiny I wondered if they would survive at all.  But they seem to be doing well. They will need watering if this heatwave continues.

I bought onion and shallot sets. I put them in small trays in the greenhouse for a few weeks and then planted them out.    Onions took time to take off but seem ok now.  The shallots are huge so I must get them out of the ground this evening.

I had my first tomatoes today –  my favourite Sungold. There is nothing quite like the first of the home grown tomatoes.  I am trying some new varieties this year so I will see if there is a new favourite. With the heatwave I seem to be extra busy cutting off the new suckers.  I did it last night and couldn’t believe how many I had to cut today.  Some people choose not to do this but I find it keeps the plants tidier.  They also say that it speeds ripening.

If anything is as good as the first tomatoes it has to be the first new potato.   I bought new potatoes in the supermarket twice but won’t do again as they were tasteless.   I bought four trial packs of seed potatoes (five in each trial pack) from Quickcrop and planted one of each in the greenhouse and the rest outside.  So far the one I’ve liked best is Casablanca. The yield was great but the flavour was fantastic.   I haven’t taken any from outside yet. I will take some of the First Earlies at the weekend.

 

The heatwave has taken us by surprise.  We always say if we could only get a decent summer it would be the best country to live in.  But now that we have it we don’t cope too well either.    I can only work in the garden early morning or late evening.   Even with the automatic windows, louvres and door open it is very hot in the greenhouse. I think the tomatoes will come on very quickly.  Thankfully we have a good watering system which was recommended by one of Landmark Greenhouse customers.  Having tried two systems previously, which did not suit our greenhouse, this was a great find.  I will be ever thankful to him for his recommendation.

 

 

I got the last of my tomatoes planted in the greenhouse at weekend.  As I’ve already written about this in earlier blog I won’t go into it again. The only difference this year is that I added crushed eggshells to soil before planting. I had read that the calcium in the eggshells is good for them. Last year’s crop was amazing. It is great to be able to share with family and friends.

In October I thought it was the end of fresh homegrown tomatoes for another year.  However a bird had flown into greenhouse mid October and broke a truss from one of the plants. I popped it into a jar of water and within a week long fresh roots were to be seen.  I thought I’d try planting it up in a pot and bring in the house placing it at a sunny window. I was really surprised to see it flowering a couple of weeks later and by mid November we had tomatoes. It was not a huge crop but each week we collected a small bowl of very tasty little treats until the last were eaten this past weekend.

When I planted the truss I didn’t know what variety it was as I had six varieties in the greenhouse. I was so happy that they turned out to be Sun Gold. During this difficult winter and even worse Spring it was fantastic  to have that burst of summer flavour.  If you have a sunny window and and would like to experiment next autumn it might be worth a try.

 

We are pleased that our Landmark Brand have withstood the impact of  both hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian that followed, and indeed the recent bad weather.

We have received some great comment from our clientele.

“Landmark 1 :  Ophelia 0”

“Our Landmark Greenhouse is staring out at Ophelia saying -Come get me”.

Having in some of  Western Ireland locations wind speed bursts up to 150 kilometers per hour  we are sure that our Greenhouses can withstand such storms.

                                                          Still Standing

Everything is way behind in the garden because of the very wet and cold winter. Potatoes seem to have been chiting for months. I did plant four in the greenhouse early on and they seem to be doing well and have been earthed twice.

This year I bought the seed potatoes from Quickcrop. Every year I grow the same reliable potatoes – Sharpes Express, Duke of York and Queens.At Quickcrop they have small tuber trial packs of 5. This seemed a great way to try new varieties.We choose one waxy variety and three other trial packs. Usually we have the First Earlies planted by St Patrick’s Day. That had to be put on hold with a London visit and going to Twickenham with my son for the memorable Grand Slam. The following weekend the weather was bright and dry and though the ground was very wet we put down half of the First Earlies.We decided to wait for another while to plant the rest. The ground is still very sodden mid April, but we decided to go ahead with the remaining First Earlies. Second Earlies can wait until the ground is less waterlogged whenever that comes about. Having had a fantastic crop of potatoes last year I would be surprised if they do as well this year with this slow start.


At least the seed potatoes in the greenhouse seem to be doing well. The Staging in the Greenhouse is full of all sorts of germinated seeds of annuals and vegetables ready to be planted out as soon as weather picks up. We wait and in hope. However all this seems inconsequential when we see the serious plight of the farmers and lack of fodder for the animals.
Hopefully in the next three weeks we will be up and running and experience Spring weather.

I am so glad we got the greenhouse sparkling clean last Week. I know it is advised to do this in the Autumn, but we have never got down to it. Working up the incentive to do this is the problem. It’s quite amazing how grubby it gets and it is always so satisfying to see it gleaming in the winter sun.

Our Landmark greenhouse has had a challenging winter – first with Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian. We have a very exposed garden. It was quite frightening to watch the hurricane driving the rain horizontally towards the greenhouse. When it hit it hit it rose up and over it and onwards again horizontally towards the boundary hedge. We lost two trees but the greenhouse stood firm. Then it had the Storm Emma with the blizzard and snow to contend with. It came through that also and is ready to go.
I had put some onion sets in compost in seed trays in the greenhouse the weekend before the onset of the snow. I did this to give them a head start for before planting in the garden. I had done the same last year and it worked very well. I thought they would freeze with the low temperature. I was worried they would had frozen as our greenhouse is not heated. I checked them today and they looked good and felt firm. So they seem to have survived it. I have still got plenty of time before planting them out so if I need to buy some more I will. I am planting F1 Centurian white onions as these did very well with me last year. Perhaps it was the soil or the weather which gave such beautiful firm and long lasting onions. Whatever it was is enough for me to try them again.

Last year I planted three First Early seed potatoes in the greenhouse to have earlier new potatoes. I planted a few a couple again two weeks ago. Will wait and see if they survive and start to grow. I’m thinking that the way the weather turned it was premature planting them. The rest are in a bright cool spot chitting.

flower

Apart from some seedlings in the propagator there has been no gardening done the week of the snow. Where the snow has melted we can see the early spring flowers like snow drops, crocus, iris reticulata and early daffodils. Unfortunately I had not heeded advice about covering the Camellia with fleece when it was hit with freezing temperatures. Now all the blossoms are brown. It is such a pity as it would have given several weeks of pleasure. Having learned a lesson I will remember next winter if the forecast is for freezing. However the star of the spring garden for me has to be the hellebores. I have several and each one seems more beautiful than the others. I have seven and love each one of them.

Gardeners love this time of the year. It is a busy time but full of anticipation of what we will enjoy in the months ahead. Cherry blossom and Spirea are in flower and the buds are beginning to open on the trees in my garden. Muscari and the early tulips are also coming into flower, while the wild primroses are brightening up the hedges of country roads.

The real star in the garden at the moment are the hellebores. There are so many of them in a great variety of colours. It is very hard to choose one. I love all I have seen and want more. These plants flower for quite a long time, have a lovely fresh green leaves and come back and increase year after year. I cut back the old leaves in early January once the first growth appears. I can’t think of any flower that gives me so much pleasure.

potted up Begonias and Dahlias

I have potted up Begonias and Dahlias which were stored in my garage over the winter. I will keep them in the greenhouse until May. I need to pot on some of the shrub cuttings which I took last year. I have held these in the greenhouse over the winter and once potted up I will keep them there until late April or early May.

The only vegetables left in the garden are a couple of heads of red cabbage, few sprouts and some wonderful purple sprouting broccoli. This tastes so good picked fresh and simply steamed for few minutes. My rhubarb was poor last year. In contrast this spring it has long red stalks and we have been enjoying the most tasty rhubarb for the past three weeks. The vegetable patch is prepared and awaiting planting. The first vegetables I planted out last week, were the cauliflowers I propagated late last year. These were kept in the greenhouse over the winter. Mangetout and Snap Peas are ready to go in the ground. I’ll do this on the next dry day.

potatoes have been chitting indoors

The potatoes have been chitting indoors. My intention was to plant the first earlies (Sharpes Express), on St Patrick’s Day but the weather wasn’t favourable. Hopefully I will get them in the ground over the next few days. I will plant second earlies (Queens), at beginning of April. The greenhouse is filling up nicely with seedlings, which I propagated either on the windowsill and in my new propagator but I will wait until the ground is drier before planting out.

March will be a very busy time in the greenhouse with decisions to be made on what seeds of vegetables and annuals to sow.  What worked or didn’t work last year helps with whether to repeat the same, but I am also looking forward to trying something new. This is the third growing season with my greenhouse.  I am hoping my beginners luck will last.

Seeds in packets on a table in the greehouse

Seeds germinate best with some warmth.  Follow seed requirements on the pack. I use a pre-moistened seed and potting compost and cover seed with vermiculite.  It is important to label all seeds.  A sunny windowsill is perfect for most seeds except for those that need a propagator.  Even if the seeds can be sown direct into the ground I prefer to grow all seeds in seed trays or small pots as our soil is very heavy. Once the seedlings have sprouted it is best to move them to the greenhouse for better light.  I did plant six cauliflower seeds late October and held them in the greenhouse overwinter.  They are now ready to go into the open ground.  I am hoping that they will produce heads before the seeds I planted in February.

egg plant growing in pots in a greenhouse

So what’s new for me this year.  I am going to grow egg plant as my son- in-law makes the most wonderful Aubergine Parmiagiana. I’ll try a melon for fun and have planted some seeds of Cape gooseberries.  These have not germinated well with only two seedlings surviving so far. I am hoping I will get one plant at least.  I am also trying a couple of new varieties of tomatoes.  Even though I had a pretty good crop of peas last year this year I have decided on Mange Touts and Snap Peas and will plant at intervals to get a longer crop.

I have potted up begonia and dahlia tubers which were stored over winter and will keep them in the greenhouse until May.  I need to pot on some shrub cuttings I took last year and will also keep them in the greenhouse until end of April or early May.

I don’t often get the inclination to work outside and do some gardening in January, but with the sun shining on January 2nd we took everything out of the greenhouse to clean it well.

A lot of moss had gown on the soil. I think this may be because we had closed the louvres of the greenhouse and had taken the wax from the automatic roof windows in early November, so the ventilation was poor. We bagged up all the moss and hopefully it won’t grow back as this was quite a job.

Several wasps were hibernating in pots and crevices and I’m sure other insects as well.  When the greenhouse was thoroughly cleaned we brought in any tender plants that could not be left outside, my growing collection of succulents and seed trays and cuttings planted some months ago.

The greenhouse sparkled in the winter sun. Who would believe a day later we woke to such a hard frost. We were so glad to have the clean out finished.  All was ready for the growing season.

Greenhouse in the winter sun