Monday, February 26, 2018

Stop Bl**dy Raining!!

If it's not raining, it's too cold, and some days its both raining and too cold.... not a good start.

This time last year I had some cloches set up with lettuces, radishes and turnips directly sown underneath, this year its too cold in the shed to even dig out the cloches!

It looks like this year is off to a slow start, the only digging so far is for parsnips, which are proving very successful I'm glad to report.

That said we haven't been completely idol, 33 out of 35 of the broad beans are up and to stop them getting leggy and too comfy indoors Heather has been moving out onto her balcony every morning for a touch of reality. The leeks have also been nice enough to put in an appearance.

Ideally these would be in an unheated cold frame, but I haven't time to build the one I've been promising Heather for.... shall we say a little while.

Heather has been busy planting her chillies, quite a lot of them, he likes planting them in trays so they can sit on the radiator more easily for a boost of heat to get them going, she'll prick them out later when they get going.

I've planted 5 pots of Cape Gooseberries, 3 seeds per pot to thin to the strongest seedling later. I was surprised how big the plants got and how many fruits they produced last year so no need to over do it.

To make a long winter evening fly by last week I decided to tackle the seed tin and the plant labels. It was a task much helped by a generous helping of red wine! All the labels from last year got a wash, and the stickers were removed for anything we aren't growing this year. The seed tin is now subdivided into the coming months and I've put any labels for the seeds in the packets to save me trying to store the things in any kind of order, ingenious I thought, for a man on the red wine!

Hopefully the beast from the east will pass quickly and we can get cloches sorted by the middle of March at the latest.

Happy gardening folks!

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Lets Get This Season Started!

The first temptation is of course to grab the seed catalogues and start clicking away on the websites, running up a lovely bill in the process, and that is what usually happens. However this year a little bit of common sense has prevailed, (we must be getting old), and the first port of call was the Lessons and Thoughts page of this blog to check any notes made last season. The second port of call was the seed tin to see what we have left from last year.

It turns out that we have a lot of seeds left, and a quick scan of catalogues to see if there was anything new we wanted to try revealed that for once, our seed bill will a bit less eye watering. Armed with this information and being reminded by the notes that the local garden centre was a good place to shop and worthy of support, we set off.

This years potato crop will be mainly salads and first earlies, more suited to summer eating. I wasn't going to plant main crop at all this year but as I have quite a few of last years crop left I'll chit enough for a couple of rows and use them as my seed potatoes. These will be hiding under my again for a few weeks.

The garden centre has a wide variety available, both pre-bagged and sold loose, although you must have 10 per bag and not mixed. I like these smaller quantities and selected 2 bags of Charlotte and 1 bag of Foremost for this year. that should be 3 and 4 rows respectively, with 1 or 2 rows of mains.

We are not growing onions this year, the amount we use and the price in the shops means its not really worth all the weeding involved, plus the risk of allium leaf miner. We did buy some shallots (Yellow Moon), possibly for pickling, or just for cooking.

Last year I put a new frame around the asparagus bed, which has left room for a few more crowns. No one remembers what the current variety is so we just picked one from the selection available, we went with Ariane, which I'm sure isn't what is there already. It will be interesting to compare once its ready. I'll delay planting these until the plot warms up and drys out a bit so they don't just rot in the ground.

Our total seed purchase amounted to only 11 packets, and 2 of those were flowers! We'll use up the stock this year and return to a huge seed bill next year! Best of all it was buy one get one free!

The total seed purchases required for this year were:
Courgettes (Mixed - Black Beauty, Grisette de Provence, Di nizza, Patty Pan, Golden Zucchini, Yellow Scallop)
Broad Beans (Aquadulce Claudia)
Radish (French Breakfast 3)
Leeks (Autumn Giant 3 - Albana)
Sweetcorn - (Ambrosia F1)
Parsnip - (Javelin F1)
Tomato - (Garnett & Tumbling Tom)

And Finally, Carrot Flyaway F1, on a seed tape which I've never tried before thought would be an interesting experiment to avoid the thinning.

And finally, some planting. There were no overwintered broad beans this year, something which I think turned out to be a good decision as the recent high winds would have decimated them. So here we have 35 broads beans (XX) and a small tray of leeks (XX) which I'll thin out and plant on to give about 40 to grow to maturity.

Nice to be adding something new to the "Now growing" list.

Happy gardening folks!!