Harvesting started in the middle of June with the Hurst Green Shaft peas and was soon followed by the courgettes (Defender). In about a week the first of the sweet corn (Early Extra Sweet) will be ready and harvesting will then be in full swing.
The first sowing of carrots on 28 April germinated well. The second sowing on 10 May wasn't nearly so good. Next year they will all be sown in April. I'm still working on the best way to get good germination, something that I haven't been very good at in the past.
I've had one serious, and totally unexpected, problem this year - club root on brassicas. The brassica section is heavily limed in early spring and I've had no sign of any club root for at least ten year. I've been using the same brand of compost for raising the plants in Rootrainers. At planting out time the whole root ball was planted. Very soon some plants just didn't thrive. When these plants were lifted and the compost root ball broken up I was very concerned that there was serious club root.
I did notice on the compost sacks a change from previous years, the inclusion of "recycled material". I can only assume that this is municipal compost that was contaminated by the inclusion of club root infected plants. Best practice bulk composting should get hot enough to kill the spores. The usual method of open air composting may not achieve this. Unfortunately I've used the same brand of compost for other plants. So it is possible that other parts of my plot are infected. Bad news indeed!
Old school geography books had a map of Europe showing a line not far north of the Mediterranean coast of France. That line was the northerly limit for growing maize, or sweet corn. Since then the plant breeders have been busy and these crops are now grown reliably in the south of England. Growing outdoors in Edinburgh needs a good summer for success. But growing in a greenhouse, even unheated, is reliable.
The North Americans have a saying "Walk to the corn patch but run home to cook the cobs". This is because the sugar that gives the corn its sweetness starts to turn to starch as soon as the cob is picked. The last thing that I do before leaving the plot is to pick a couple of cobs and hurry home. Cooking immediately gives the rewarding taste of sweet corn at its best. The shops just can't achieve that speed.
Growing sweet corn in the greenhouse is a good way of using space that might otherwise be unused; all the seedlings raised for the plot have now been planted out. I've been growing successfully this way for years. A good plant will yield two cobs and they are ready when the silks that come out of the ends of the cob turn brown. My greenhouse doesn't have any staging so the corn is grown in the ground. This allows the plants to grow to their full height of about six feet and growth is rapid. To overcome the need for frequent hand watering, rainwater is piped in a hose to the crop from the roofs of the shed and greenhouse. To give a spread of cropping the first seeds were sown in Rootrainers on 1 April and planted out on 24 April. Later sowings were at fortnightly intervals.
Pollination isn't a problem outdoors, the wind does that. But there isn't much wind indoors. The pollen bearing flowers grow at the top of the plants and the cobs at a lower level. Each grain in the cob has its own long silk that grows out at the end of the cob. By frequently shaking the flowers a cloud of pollen falls down onto the silks and, hopefully, pollinates all of them. Unfertilised silks mean blanks in the cob.
B. A. Plotter