Fruit growing · Life in the Countryside · Vegetable growing

Tomato bed

So our greenhouse has one side sectioned off to be used as a growing bed. This week one of my jobs was to prepare the bed ready for our tomatoes. As a family it is surprising how many tomatoes we actually use in various forms. Both C and I enjoy eating cherry tomatoes and we also use raw tomatoes in salads (I love a good capers salad). I use tomato as a base in my cooking a lot (my husband would say too much) and we also like to indulge in the odd sun dried tomato. In previous years we have grown cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets and the taste compared to shop bought varieties was incredible, so much so that J even liked them. So we’re really excited about growing so many more varieties of our own tomatoes this year. We’ve already planted some seeds and they have began to grow (with varying success) so this week I got our beds ready for when they are big enough to be transplanted out.

Now the bed down the side of the greenhouse is a really good size and was one of the reasons that we chose this particular greenhouse. We’ve filled the base of the bed with gravel. This apparently is good for helping with watering as you water the gravel and it keeps moisture in the greenhouse? I’m not really sure exactly but J has done his research and says it does. Then on top of this we have space for six grow bags, and the requisite black plastic trays underneath them. The at the end there is still just about space for our two citrus trees. Citrus trees? Yup, we have two citrus trees, one orange (I think it’s actually a mandarine to be exact) and one lime. They’re only little, although I did repot them recently, but they should hopefully give us a couple of fruits this year. They’re just starting to show new Spring growth as you can see below.

We mainly wanted the orange tree as we like to eat oranges, and, I’m not going to lie, the lime tree is mainly for gin and tonics. They will be alright to go outside in warmer weather, if we ever get any, but they will need to spend the colder months inside.

Anyhow, back to the tomatoes. So the bed is all set up, we do have everything ready for when the tomatoes need support but we’ll wait to add them as required. We have 18 slots to fill grow bag wise now and I’ve planted numerous seeds, of a number of different varieties, which are slowly starting to show promise. I’ve also planted a couple of pepper seeds and I’ll probably dedicate one grow bag to these. The flowers you can see are little C’s selection from the garden centre a few weeks ago. Like her daddy she really loves growing flowers and also has some in her bedroom, she loves stroking the petals.

Next to the flowers is our greenhouse heater which gives it an extra boost when it gets particularly chilly, which it has a lot in recent weeks! I’ve also given the greenhouse a good old tidy as you can probably tell. We have our little bistro set of table and chairs in the greenhouse at the moment and it fits quite nicely over the power supply stand. There is a lovely long work bench down the opposite side to the tomato bed which is now fairly clear and stores various paraphernalia at either end. Our seedlings are currently in the various propagators you can see. The purple thing is C’s fairy garden in case you were wondering.

Our tools are currently laying flat underneath the workbench. Not necessarily a permanent location for them yet but one which suits them for now. I have a lovely folding tray table at the very back which is useful both inside and outside, mainly for holding cups of tea at the moment but hopefully more when the weather gets a bit better. C has her own supply of gardening bits as you can see at the bottom right of the picture including her Peter Rabbit gardening apron which I made for her recently. I have plans for one for myself, although probably not with the same fabric.

So this has been a rather distracted post I know, so I shall end by bringing it back to tomatoes. Here are some of my tomato seedlings when they finally appeared. Thankfully they have grown a little bit more since this photo.

Raised beds

Turnip seedling review 

So we are finally able to harvest our first crops of the season. We’ve just started to pull up our first crops from the raised beds – our turnips. The variety we planted was called ‘Purple Top Milan’ and we originally received the seeds from Grow Your Own magazine, which we subscribe to. I love turnip and reading the seed packet they seemed fairly easy to grow so they seemed ideal for a first time veggie grower. I was so sure that none of the seeds would take so I did end up sowing them rather thickly directly into the raised bed. The plan was to have two rows sown two weeks apart but as both C and I were a little over enthusiastic in our sowing we ended up planting both rows at once. 

A couple of weeks after they had started to sprout I thinned them. The above picture shows one row thinned and one row still to thin. The thinned seedlings went to the chickens as a lovely treat. On reflection, next year with more confidence in my ability I would try and sow my seeds less densely. 

I have sprinkled crushed egg shells around them as I have with most of our seedlings as a deterrent to slugs. Apart from that we have just watered them. We did a little weeding in the early days but very soon the foliage grew enough to prevent weed growth. 


This is them on the right, you can see how much their leaves have grown, this was a couple of weeks before we started picking.

Now turnips are best consumed when small and sweet – too large and they have a woody taste. So today we picked our first ones to serve with Sunday lunch as we had some friends over. They were delicious. We tried to pick fairly spaced out to give more room for the remaining ones to grow. We will get the rest of the harvest out in the next few weeks and then I’ll need to find something else to put in where they were. No idea what though. The turnips are definitely down on my to grow list for next year again!