Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tomato plants from sideshoot cuttings

I usually turn my first big tomato sideshoots into cuttings – a surprisingly quick and simple trick. Much faster than growing from seed, and handy for those expensive F1 varieties like Sungold. Take your biggest sideshoots – five or six inches long is ideal but smaller will do (photo 1). Push into pots of very moist seed compost (making the hole with a pencil can help – photo 2). Cover with a propagator lid or plastic bag with a small air hole in, leave in a warm place not in direct sunlight, and they will root in about a week (photo 3)! Tomatoes have a really fierce determination to root: sometimes discarded sideshoots left lying on the soil surface during a rainy spell take root.
On a different topic, some people graft tomato plants. I’ve not tried that, and don’t know how or why it’s done, but maybe someone will leave a comment to explain?

Planting out sweetcorn

I’m planting out my first batch of sweetcorn today – raised in rootrainers as usual, with a small handful of chicken manure pellets in each planting hole – they do very well this way I’ve found.

The beauty of rootrainers is that they are quite deep, easy to get the young plants out of, and take up very little space in the greenhouse – 32 plants fit into a space the size of a standard seed tray.   Ideal for tall narrow plants like sweetcorn,  and I also use them for beans.  I planted my first sweetcorn seeds indoors in mid April, and they were ready to go out about a month later.

I’ve found that a little pelleted chicken manure in each planting hole feeds the sweetcorn all season, and is enough to produce big plants and good cobs.  I’ve got my reservations about using pelletted chicken manure – in an ideal world I’d find something more vegan – but it is cheap, convenient, and effective.   Does anyone have any ideas for an alternative (apart from lots of home made compost, which would always be the ideal, if I could ever make ENOUGH compost!).

A lovely slow worm at allotment 2

Until I moved to Stroud four years ago, I’d never seen a slow worm. Since being here, I’ve seen them four times in four different places.  At allotment 1 on Bisley Old Road last year, a slow worm was living under the mesh cover of my carrot bed – fantastic!

I hope these endangered, slug-eating legless lizards continue to thrive in our valleys. Slow worms are legally protected, but cats, their main predator, don’t know that.  Hopefully people have more sense than to harm them – some people have a weird reaction to anything that resembles a snake, however harmless the creature is.

When I startled a slow worm in a Summer Street back garden last autumn, it did the unnerving trick of leaving the end of its tail behind – something they can do to confuse predators and aid their escape!  The slow worm that I met today (see pic below) was completely calm and just lay there until I’d moved away, then it discretely sloped off to a new hiding place.