Friday, 19 October 2012

The Final Tomatoes

Our harvest is now coming to an end and with perfect timing as we prepare to move out of our city centre apartment to a place with a small *outdoor* garden across the Mersey.

These Tiger tomatoes are very ripe with a pale stripe and taste delicious.

We are also finishing off the aubergines and peppers. Hopefully the rosemary plant will continue to flourish in our new place.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Small Aubergines Stubbornly Refuse to Ripen

We have about 25 of these small stripey Aubergines (or eggplants, some really do look like eggs).

They haven't altered much for a few weeks, some have changed colour a bit but they're still very hard.

I believe they should be ready late Summer and the skins are shiny so maybe we should try some.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Ripe Red Bell Peppers

You can see why they're called 'Bell' Peppers - all in a line ready to be chimed (or pealed :)

We're very pleased with our crop, not bad considering they've been grown indoors during a cool, grey Summer. We actually feel sorry for our plants. We do look after them well but we're sure they'd be happier if they were free-range - need to get a place with space for a proper outdoor veg patch.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Tiny Tomatoes Almost Ready to Eat

Almost... but not quite. The Head Gardener likes her tomatoes to be very red and ripe before picking.

While we were away for a few days all our plants enjoyed camping out in the real sun and rain on a kind neighbour's balcony. It seemed to do them good, all the peppers have reddened a lot too but now they're all back indoors.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Taste of Padron Peppers

We decided it was time to pick a few of our Padron Peppers. They're about the size of my thumb and still quite young and green but appear to have stopped growing in size.

I'm sure that the longer you leave them the hotter they'll get and although most of them are relatively mild about 1 in 50 is reckoned to be fiery hot. I think we had one really hot one and the others had a bit of a kick but not too much.

We cut them in half, sprinkled with oil and sea salt and grilled for a few minutes - very nice.

We grew these from seed and they've not been too much trouble so I think we'll be growing more in the future.

Friday, 27 July 2012

First Stripey Aubergine Appears

Some while after the lovely Aubergine (Eggplant) flowers appeared the stripey fruits are slowly emerging.

I hadn't noticed before just how sharp those small needles are on the enveloping leaves. Obviously there to protect the young fruit from predatory birds etc.

These plants do attract greenfly but otherwise seem to be quite trouble free (so far).

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Plentiful Padron Peppers

Very pleased with the number of little Padron Peppers growing here.

You may recall these are the type where about 1 in 50 is really hot. I doubt we'll get as many as 50 from our one plant but still makes me nervous thinking about it. It'll be quite a while before they're ready to eat.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Little Green Tomatoes

Soon to be bigger red tomatoes hopefully but they're not seeing much sun these days.

Our stripey tomato has flowered too, looking forward to seeing those fruits.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

More Peppers

We now have more peppers than we can count. 

Various sizes and all very green, these are a couple of the largest.

We patiently await a gradual change to red.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Chilli Peppers in a Sky Planter

We recently purchased this 'Sky Planter' from the lovely people at Liverpool-based Cow & Co.

We planted a small Apache Chilli Pepper plant that we bought from Ness Gardens.

Apart from having to climb up onto the desktop to tend to the plant we are delighted with it. It has a little green floaty thing which indicates when it needs water and the plant is doing well whilst still attempting to grow upwards.

It should look even better against the blue sky once the red chillis appear. (Locals will realize that this photo was taken a few days ago when we last had a brief period of bright weather).

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

First Aubergine Flower

The joy of waking up in the morning to see another new flower has popped.

I'm not sure I've ever seen an Aubergine flower before and whoever designed them should win an award because they're amazing. Have a look at the detail photo below.

We have six plants all with several buds. These are the small round Aubergines so the plants and the desktop should be able to bear the weight.

Tomatoes and Peppers are still going strong too.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

First Tomato Flowers

One (and only one) of the tomato plants is flowering now. The other four are looking quite healthy but no sign of any buds.

We also have one stripey variety which has grown much taller and looks like it's about to flower soon.

They're hairy beasts these tomatoes aren't they? Have a look at the close up detail below...

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Fuchsia Flowers Finally Flourish

Still not fully open but these Fuchsia buds have been teasing us for several days now. Very gradually, tantalisingly getting bigger before finally bursting open yesterday.

We think they're beautiful - lovely colours and velvety texture and it's great to break up the veg and herbs with a few show-off flowers.

Figurine by Carrie Chau, 'Blind Fly' based on the painting 'mid-summer dreaming (2004) 
Carrie Chau website:

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The First Pepper Flower

Several buds have appeared on our Pepper plants over the last few days and this is the first one to bloom. 

Is that a tiny baby pepper we can see forming inside?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A Pea in a Pod

Yes, one pea in one pod appears to be the sum total of our produce from this Garden Pea plant.

Mind you, it is a lovely pod following on from the lovely flower we wrote about earlier.

Can't wait to devour it - half a pea each. How to tell when a pod is ready? Want to taste it at its best.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Padron Pepper and Fungus Gnats

The Padron Pepper we are growing from seed is doing ok. We have planted it into a bigger pot and with a covering of sand it's looking quite tropical and is currently being visited by some tourists - ('Tourists' by Duane Hanson 1970 - )

To be honest though, the sand is not for aesthetic purposes, it is to try and combat a massive infestation of Fungus Gnats affecting most of our plants. We were spending hours every day trying to get rid of all the pesky flies. If we had an outdoor space it wouldn't be so bad, we could encourage other wildlife and let nature deal with it organically. Of course that's not an option here but a good layer of sharp horticultural sand which was a tricky and messy job appears to have made a vast improvement. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Aubergine Plants Good - Shame About the Radishes

Sad to report that our Radish seedlings failed. You may recall they were the 20 day Nelson Radish, they did germinate well and grow into small plants but then stopped and gradually withered away. Maybe we're being a bit too ambitious attempting to grow root vegetables indoors. 

But the Aubergines (pictured here) are looking good, they have nice soft, almost furry, leaves. Its a small round variety which, hopefully, will not take up too much space.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Pak Choi Becoming Plump

Not quite ready to eat but certainly getting there, lovely green leaves, white stems and a nice plump bottom (oo-er!).

Don't know why the three Pak Choi are such different sizes, they were all grown from seed at the same time and had the same treatment, all part of the wonders of nature.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Lamb's Lettuce Ready to Eat

We really need to eat these Lamb's Lettuce (Corn Salad, Winter Salad) before the leaves become tough and bitter-tasting. 

But we are debating whether to pick the whole plants and use the trough for something different or just take the outside leaves and leave the plants to keep giving us more - 'Cut-and-come-again'.

It seems a shame to take out the whole plant when they have so many new leaves coming through. It would also make Superlambanana redundant, at least until we grow some more.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Surprise Pea Flower

A very pleasant surprise this morning as a flower opened on the Garden Pea plant. 

We weren't expecting any yet, it's only a small plant, we haven't even put in any support for it yet, we can see a second bud too.

Having all these plants on a desk makes it very easy to get up close and see the beauty of these delicate flowers - easier to take good pictures too as it's so still :)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Our First Homegrown Spinach Salad

We have eaten our first significant batch of Spinach and the plants look like they'll provide us with a lot more.

With a few leaves of our Basil and some Tomatoes (shop-bought), seasoning and Olive Oil - delicious, fresh and crisp.

And tomorrow we'll be having more of those tasty Pea Shoots.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Desktop Garden 2nd Month Review

Now more than two months since we started our Desktop Garden and you can see it's completely full and very green.

As mentioned in previous posts we put some of the plants on the windowsill so it does spread out a bit but it just about still fits onto the desk.

The Pak Choi are now looking quite plump, the five Tomato plants and four Peppers continue to grow.

We can now grow and eat Cress and Pea Shoots regularly and pick sprigs of Rosemary, Basil and Mint as required.

We've had a few flowers too and looking forward to the Fuchsia coming into bloom later.

The little Thyme seedlings are very slow growing and the Lamb's Lettuce is taking its time to reach the stage where we feel we can start taking some leaves off to eat.

On the whole it's been quite a rewarding month, we just wish we had more room as we have so many unopened packets of seeds.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Little Yellow Flowers in a Tea Caddy

These tea caddies are too good to throw away and the small 7.5cm plant pots fit in perfectly.

The first little yellow flower has opened on the Sanvitalia (creeping zinnia) and there's a few more buds ready to open soon.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Pepper Plants Prosper

We haven't featured the Pepper plants for quite a while and have pretty much just left them to get on with it, only making sure they got their turn on the sunny windowsill.

They're now looking quite big and healthy, maybe the little Doraemon character has been using various gadgets to help them along?

We snacked on a few Spinach leaves today - very nice!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Spinach Looking More Like the Real Thing

We last posted a picture of our young Spinach nearly a month ago on St Patrick's Day. Then each seedling just had the 2 thin grass-like leaves (called Cotyledon fyi) which you often find in bags of Spinach and feel a bit cheated. 

Now the proper round leaves are out and growing noticeably bigger each day. They're tasty too, we've eaten a few as they tend to damage easily.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Snowflake Ohanami for Damo

It's a shame that we are missing the Cherry Blossom season in Japan but our Snowflake plant has had a bit of a resurgence and and given Damo the Gnome his own Ohanami (flower viewing) variation. Looks like he's polished off the Sake already too.

The Spinach, Pepper and Tomato plants are all growing well and we've already popped some more peas into a tray for another pea shoot feast.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Pea Shoots Harvest

We'll be eating these Pea Shoots today - only 2 weeks after sowing!

Really fast and easy, there's plenty more seeds in the pack too.

Not forgetting the always reliable Mustard Cress as well.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Padron Pepper

The Padron Pepper we're growing from seed is gradually taking shape. We will have to keep him in the sun as much as possible. There's still some old Basil growing in the mug and some new Basil in the Hovis tin.

Just eaten some delicious Purple Sprouting Broccoli which we got from the Farmers Market this morning. Reminded us that we did buy some seeds right back at the beginning, if we can find the space we really must sow some. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Super Lambs Lettuce

The Lamb's Lettuce is making slow but steady progress under the watchful eye of our SuperLambanana !

Despite also being called Winter Salad it seems to love the sun and sulks whenever we take it off the wondowsill. It has a strange habit of closing its top leaves together when it goes to sleep at night.

This is how tiny it was nearly a month ago.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Crop Rotation System

We squeeze as many plant pots onto the windowsill as possible. They all have to have their fair share of the sunlight so we spend some time each day rotating plants between different parts of the desktop and window.

As mentioned earlier, the desk is in front of a large West-facing window with plenty of light but only some direct sunlight in late afternoon and evening. Some plants are happy out of direct sunlight but most really seem to benefit from a few hours of sunbathing whenever possible.

We've had to stick to pots that fit between the window and the secondary glazing. At the top of this picture you can see the Spinach, next is 1 Pea plant then a few Tomato plants which are now looking really strong.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Pea Shoots

These Pea Shoots are only 5 days old and will be ready to eat as a salad in another couple of weeks.

We came across the seeds in Homebase which is full of Jamie Oliver branded gardening stuff, he's everywhere that guy. We since realised that the packs of dried peas you can get from the supermarket for about a quarter of the price might work just as well.

Just soak them in water for 12 hours and pop into shallow compost, keep dark until they germinate then in some light but not too much. These are in a plant pot tray, 20cm wide and being supervised by a couple of little wooden creatures.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Baby Beetroot Beauties

We have some baby Beetroots growing is the same trough as the Radishes. Fine bedfellows hopefully.

This is Beetroot Kornett from the handy Johnson's Compact Garden series. Worth growing just for the beautiful colours!

The adjacent Radishes continue to grow well, the second crop of Mustard Cress is nearly ready to eat and we have a shallow tray with lots of Pea Shoots sprouting :) Will show a picture of them soon.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Nelson Radish

Radishes are easy and quick to grow. We sowed a few thinly into a trough and will just thin out and grow them there.

These are Radish Nelson which are longer and thinner than the more common round variety.

In Japan these are called Hatsuka Daikon which translates as 20 day Radish as you can harvest only 20 days after sowing. We'll see about that but we're getting so much sun lately it's looking hopeful.

Daikon is used a lot in Japan, in fact the master poet Basho wrote a Haiku...

After the chrysanthemums, Apart from radishes, There is nothing. 
Matsuo Basho (1644-94)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Pak Choi Progress and Rosemary Roasties

The Pak Choi is really starting to look like the real thing now.

Love the shape of those leaves.

We have just had roast potato wedges for dinner and added a few sprigs of our fresh Rosemary - lovely.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Our Young Basil Family

Today we would like to feature our Basil seedlings. As well as the common or Sweet Basil we have its distant cousin the Japanese Shiso or Perilla

They're all members of the Mint family - Lamiaceae

In Japan they used the Shiso variety with Spaghetti for many years before gradually switching to the more Mediterranean version. It's still used in traditional dishes, I like Shiso with Sushi, the leaves can grow quite big, they look like nettles!

Meanwhile the first batch of Cress has been devoured and more seeds sown.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Pea Plant Looks Promising

Our one and only Pea plant continues to grow well.

We have recently discovered the deliciousness of pea shoots which you can buy from the supermarket. So we are hoping for a double harvest of both Peas and Shoots.
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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Desktop Garden One Month Review

After nearly a month and over 20 blog posts since we started the Desktop Garden it may be worth a quick review of how it's going.

You can see that the desk is quite full, the Tomatoes and Pak Choi are looking quite strong on the windowsill though we sometimes bring them in if it's a very cold night.

We have added a wire shelf to raise up the plants at the back of the desk to get them out of the shade a bit more.

The Mint and Rosemary are thriving and regrow whenever we snip off a few leaves for the kitchen but the Thyme was not at all happy, not sure why, some plants just don't like being indoors. We're going to try growing some Thyme from seed. Only 1 of the Pea seeds has sprouted, that is going well but we fear that may be the only one from the pack to germinate.

The Peppers, Spinach and Japanese Basil are looking good too. The Rocket Salad seedlings are are looking quite weak but most have new leaves appearing from the centre. We're thinking that it may better to sow some seeds straight into the big pots or troughs and leave them rather than starting in modules and potting up. As we're not going to plant outside it may be better to avoid any unnecessary disturbance. 

One unforeseen problem we have discovered is that we can't go away! We have to check, water, talk to and move plants every day. We'll have to appoint some trustworthy green-fingered friend to look after things when we go on holiday.

It is also difficult keeping the room clean and tidy - compost and water gets everywhere. Need to be organised and disciplined - we are of course :)

Its been fun so far and we've already learnt a lot. We're happy with how it looks and have already been blessed with some lovely flowers and edible herbs. It's sad when things fail but but it's great to wake up in the morning to check for new arrivals pushing their little heads through the soil.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Green Spinach for St Patrick's Day

A quick mobile phone photograph of our young Spinach on St Patrick's night. 

They're looking suitably very green and seem to be waving to the revellers outside the Pub down the road.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Our First Seed Swap

Speaking of Aubergine, here's a photo of the packet. 'Ideal for the patio', it says. That's not much different from a desk is it? We had more seeds than we could possibly use so we swapped some with our friend, Joanne along with some mixed leaf salad seeds. 

She has a proper outdoor garden and had kindly sent us seeds for Purple Haze Carrots, Tomato Tigerella (the stripey ones), Japanese Spring Onion and Padron Peppers (noted for their 'Russian Roulette' effect as about one in 50 is very hot but you can't tell until you eat it. That should be fun!)

Looks like we'll have all the ingredients for a Jamie Oliver style salad soon. Lovely Jubbly.

Joanne warned on the envelope that seeds can easily escape and as you can see one of the little spring onion chaps did manage to free itself from the pack.

Looking forward to more swapping of seeds and maybe even plants in the future. This is fun.

Little Aubergines

All the Aubergine seeds have sprouted. They are the small pale coloured variety - Aubergine Calliope F1 Hybrid 

The little creature looking after them is from Japan where aubergines are very popular indeed. He is a small replica of 'Dog Shaped Flower Pot'  by Taro Okamoto one of our favourite artists, we visited his Museum in 2011.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Kung Fu Cress

Nearly ready to eat. Mustard Cress is so easy and quick to grow and with Bruce Lee keeping an eye on things these babies couldn't fail (they daren't!). These little Chinese steamers are just ideal too.

This will go nicely on our sandwiches in a day or two. Thanks for your help Bruce, we'll plant some more soon, no more martial arts for you, indoor gardening is where the action is.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Desktop Garden Peas

We do like a challenge. If all 6 Garden Pea seeds grow to their full height we may have a problem.

These were on offer in the children's section at Ness as they were getting a bit old. The seeds and soil come together in a nice little pocket which you can colour in before you start (we skipped that bit) then add water and wait for germination. 

Then you pot them up into separate containers. 

It doesn't say what happens next, that's obviously where the parent has to take over responsibility. Oh dear!

On the left of this picture you can see a bit of the Cress which has grown splendidly, look out for a photo of that tomorrow.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Little Lamb's Lettuce

First of all we should say a big Thank You to David Lloyd at Seven Streets for writing this lovely piece about our Desktop Garden blog, wonderful and humorous writing.

Lamb's Lettuce. We love it but it hardly ever gets mentioned, it's never the star, it's one of those little leafy things in the bags of anonymous mixed salad we buy from the supermarket to go with the pizza. It's also known as Corn Salad or Winter Salad because it's Winter tolerant. 

These seedlings are tiny though, not sure I want to disturb them and maybe this compost is a bit heavy. Although the packet didn't mention it, I've since read that they prefer very fine, sandy soil. Well, fingers crossed.