Urban Farm – June 8th – 2015

Well, I have been away  from my garden for getting on for a week as I have been on tour with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra to the Czech Republic. We had a great time there but some doubts had crossed my mind about leaving the vegetables, fruit and flowers in the hands of my wife. She has absolutely no experience of growing anything! I needn’t have worried, however, as far from getting back to a desert my garden is blooming. It just goes to show that anyone is capable of growing their own food and a reasonable chance of success is almost guaranteed.

Well done Mrs Ball!unnamed-8

A new project of mine last Summer, were the introduction of a lemon tree and a lime tree into my new greenhouse. The are doing just fine and are producing fruit now.unnamed-6

Citrus trees fruit and flower simultaneously. It is a real pleasure to see the pretty blossom and the new foliage.unnamed-3

Lemons are quite green on the tree but will yellow if left to mature for long enough. unnamed-10 The trees also have a gorgeous citrus smell!unnamed-4 I have a bumper crop of strawberries on the way. This is looking like the best season I have ever had with them this year.unnamed-6

Also beginning to show are the first little tomatoes on the vines. Cute!unnamed-6unnamed-10

My French bean seedlings are just about ready to plant out too…unnamed-8

The broad beans are shooting upwards at a rate of knots and are flowering profusely. I am just starting to see bees arriving in the garden (not before time!). unnamed-3I will need them to start getting busy now, to get a bountiful crop.unnamed-4unnamed-3I am container growing carrots for the first time, this year. The first sowings are almost ready to be thinned out, already.unnamed-10My herbs are also coming to life now. I have four types of mint (apple, pineapple, spearmint and peppermint); rosemary, thyme, chives, coriander, shiso (a Japanese salad leaf related to mint), flat leaf and curled parsley, lavender sage and nasturtiums. I also have basil in the greenhouse.unnamed-6unnamed-4My potato crop also appears to be flourishing. They are looking to best I have had, all being well. I am growing two varieties, Maris Piper and Charlotte.unnamed-8

To the front of my new raised bed the containers contain cuorgettes, strawberries and a second sowing of carrots. Complimentary planting in this way is essential for those who are limited for space.unnamed-3

In the raised be itself I have a first planting of broad beans to the front a thriving row of strawberries, followed by a second planting of broad beans and then another row of strawberries. My French bean seedlings will be growing up the wall later this week. There are also some rogue potatoes, from cuttings in the compost bin, I suppose. Never mind, they will taste good I am sure!unnamed-4The neat little trick I am trying out of growing vertical onions is doing brilliantly! I only planted the ‘sets’ the day before going to Prague and they are almost ready for cutting, so soon after. The idea is to cut the chive part of the onions as a cut and come again crop. The supply should be pretty much endless, hopefully in Winter to,, as the temperature in the greenhouse should keep them going. I may empty them out when they get too big and eat the bulbs too.

My other neat trick, with Spring onions, is to only buy one bunch from the supermarket this year. I ‘house’ them in a little water, just enough to cover the roots and cut them to about two inches long as required. They too have grown back to this length within a week!

unnamed-8unnamed-3The tomato plants are getting taller than me now! We have six varieties: Sun Gold, Moneymaker, Beefsteak, Alicante and Gardener’s Delight in the greenhouse. I have some San Marzano outdoors in a sheltered, sunny position. As soon as the first flowering trusses appeared, I have used a tomato feed on them once a week unnamed-6The chilli plants are all being to shoot up and are teeming with flower buds.unnamed-10

You have to give bees and other pollinators an incentive, so flowers in the garden are an aesthetic delight as well as encouraging all those necessary ‘critters’ into the environs of the Urban Farm.IMG_7103 (1) As you can see, I grow all my in containers or hanging baskets. The first week of June has just passed and the are growing fast and really producing flowers enthusiastically now.unnamed-4 unnamed-10I do plant strawberries in with them, as mine is essentially a food garden. They grow well together as complimentary planting.unnamed-3

I am expecting the petunias etc to cascade down their baskets and obscure the containers from view altogether. I get most of my flowers from a nursery close to my parents and they never let me down year after year.unnamed-8

Our new cherry tree, from Paul & Jenny Marsden, looks pretty in the container, with the flower arrangement. It is a thirsty tree, however, so needs a lot of watering. It is cropping well too, in it’s second year. I think next year, I will lift up a flagstone and plant it in the ground, to let it grow more freely.unnamed-6
So far so good…unnamed-8

About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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