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.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tiny Toms in Bright Pots

The Tomato plants are still very small but at least the big colourful plant pots add a bit of interest to the garden.

We have just planted a small tray of Mustard Cress - nothing like a bit of instant harvesting (well, a few days anyway) to encourage a gardener. Will post pictures when its grown.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Pair of Peppers in a Pink Pot

We have transferred the Pepper plants to larger containers - 2 to a 40cm pink trough (x 2 = 4 in total). Will they have sufficient room to flourish? 
We'll see. 

We didn't grow these from seed, we bought small plug plants from the garden centre a while ago.

They are on the windowsill whilst its warm and sunny but we'll have to move them onto the desk at night.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

More Seedlings - Pak Choi

It's all seedlings at the moment. Can't wait to till we have a few fully grown plants.

We have just a few Pak Choi seedlings ready to pot up.

You may have guessed the list of veg we're growing is very similar to our shopping list. We love Pak Choi, it used to be difficult to find in the UK but is now in all the supermarkets and is British grown.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Super Spinach Seedlings

These Spinach seedlings are mighty! Hope they don't burn themselves out too quickly.

We've planted them up into one long trough only about 10cms apart. Better sow some more seeds soon as I reckon these will be eaten up in no time at all.

The room was colder last night as outdoor temperatures dropped, maybe should have invested in more covers for the seed trays.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Indoor Snowflakes!

Or A snowflake to be precise. It's not all herbs and veg in our Desktop Garden, there's a few flowers too. I've already mentioned the Tulips, the first of which are already starting to fade.

Here we have a small Bacopa Snowflake plant, it's often used to trail from hanging baskets and other containers so it should look nice trailing from this brightly coloured watering-can-style pot.

Going to pot up the Spinach later, they're looking quite vigorous.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Some Help Arrives for the Gardening

As if by magic, some little creatures turned up in various plant pots!

Seems that even in horticulture there's no escaping the Japanese Kawaii Culture.

Today we sowed a few Aubergine seeds - yes Aubergine! Can't resist it but no idea how we'll find space for them.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Desktop Garden Takes Shape

Here's a picture of the desktop garden taken from the balcony above - we live in a Duplex Apartment. You can see that we are constraining it to as single desk (120 x 60cm) though we may well use the adjacent windowsill, it would be a shame not to. 

We may also go more vertical and maybe hang some pots from this balcony but we really don't want to spread out much beyond the desktop.

Below is a close up, you can see there's already a lot of small seedlings, will we be able to squeeze them all in when they're fully grown? It's all exciting and experimental as far as we're concerned.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Poorly Parsley

One of the hardest things in gardening is accepting the occasional (well, we hope it's only occasional) failure. Especially when it's due to one's own stupidity!

We managed to salvage a few bits of the parsley but the rest withered away in a very short time.
First of all I didn't pay proper attention, I thought this one plant that we bought was the standard flat leaf parsley but it was actually French Parsley a.k.a Chervil. Then I thought it looked like it would easily divide up into 4 smaller plants as long as I was careful to keep plenty of root on each. This has worked fine for many plants for me in the past but not this time. They obviously didn't like to be ripped apart!

Ah well, we learn from our mistakes - read the labels and instructions more carefully in future.

On a brighter note - the Spinach seeds are just starting to push their little heads through the soil.