Sunday, 16 May 2010

Frost Damage

A depressing sight - frost damaged potatoes (click on the picture for a closer look). Strangely, the one at the bottom has survived intact but it is a rarity - most of the other plants have been frostbitten. I did earth them up before the hard frost we had midweek, so you can see green shoots underneath the brown bits. Normally we would be eating our potatoes in July, but I doubt it this year - the cold will slow them down. In ten years of growing potatoes here, I have never had frost damage this severe.
Likewise, I have been growing tender plants in the shed for years, with no problems. But this year even the shed must have got too cold at night, you can see I have lost some pumpkins (bottom of picture) and one marrow (almost out of shot at top). I've brought these into the house and as I kept some seed back for emergencies, I'll resow this week. The courgettes and cucumbers should have been out in their little greenhouse this week, but are still sitting inside as it's even too cold during the day, never mind at night.
Still, it's not all doom and gloom. Under a cloche I started spinach, chard and radish a few weeks ago. You can see the spinach seedlings top right in this photo, but also there are self-seeded sage plants bottom and left, and even (I think), self-seeded nigella in there. My sage plants suffered under the winter snow and I cut them back yesterday, to new shoots appearing at the base, but it's good to know I have lots of spares. Once it's warm enough to take the cloche off this bed I'll pot up the interlopers and move them elsewhere.
And here's another cautionary tale. We are often told to use up seed quickly, as seed kept over a year deteriorates. This tray contains lettuce "Salad Bowl" - on the left side was seed from a packet I opened last year and kept, on the right fresh seed opened this year. As you can see, the old seed germinated poorly. So I won't try that again. This lettuce will grow on indoors until the weather warms up.
Back to the cloche - here are some of the radishes, almost big enough to eat, though I just can't bring myself to want to eat salad yet, given the temperatures outside!
Finally, here is my Katy apple, now in full bloom and it looks like another good crop this year. The plums are all set now, as are the currants and gooseberries, so let's just hope for a long, warm summer after all this cold.
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