May sowings – week 1

Yes I know it is not week 1 of May any more, but to be honest, it has been so cold earlier on in March and April, that everything is behind this year.

So here is what I am sowing this week:

 

Pea - Delicata - May Wk 1

 

Pea - Oregon Sugar Pod - May Wk 1

French Dwarf Bean - Montano - May Wk 1

 

Beetroot - Boltardy - May Wk 1

 

Carrot - Maestro - May Wk 1

Swede - Tweed - May Wk 1

 

Kale - Nero di Toscana - May Wk 1

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May Day weekend

I hope you are enjoying the nice weather this bank holiday weekend.
Here is what I have been sowing recently
24th April

Candytuft – Fairy Mix
Candytuft - Fairy Mix - sown 24th April 2013

and then on 25th April

Cosmos – Polidor Mixed
Cosmos - Polidor Mixed - sown 25th April '13

Verbascum – Phoeniceum Mixed
Verbascum - Phoeniceum Mixed - sown 25th April '13

Scabious – Tall Double Mixed
Scabious - Tall Double Mixed - sown 25th April '13

Cornflower – Tall Tutu Mix

Cornflower - Tall Tutu Mix - sown 25th April '13

Chrysanthemum – Sunshine Mix

Chrysanthemum - Sunshine Mix - sown 25th April '13

Godetia – Little Frills Mix

Godetia - Little Frills Mix - sown 25th April '13

Nicotiana – Lime Green

Nicotiana - Lime Green - sown 25th April '13

And these have been sown on 6th May ’13

Aubretia – Rich Rose

Aubretia - Rich Rose - sown 6th May '13

Viola – Johnny Jump Up
Viola - Johnny Jump Up - sown 6th May '13

Poached Egg Plant

Poached Egg Plant - sown 6th May '13

French Marigold – Orange Boy

French Marigold - Orange Boy - sown 6th May '13

Spring is playing hide and seek

It is 23 April. Happy St Georges Day to everyone. It was also my dads birthday.

I used to wonder why gardeners dont tend to blog much. Now I understand.  It is because they are so busy out there doing the work, that when they get home they just want to collabpse in a chair with some food, before they fall asleep.

It has been a cold spring, which has set back the seed sowing.

Today I have sown in my miscellaneous bed some flowers:
Hollyhock – Giant Single Mixed – grows to 8′
Sweet Pea – Painted Lady – grows to 6′
Sweet Pea – Singing the Blues – grows to 6′
Sunflower – Velvet Queen – grows to 6′
Delphinium – Galahad – grows to 6′
Verbena – Bonariensis – grows to 4′
Foxglove – Alba – grows to 4′

I put these all together in a relatively small patch in my miscellaneous bed.  As they grow I can put stakes in around the edges and fasten string at appropriate heights to keep them in and up,  and they will, I hope, support each other.  I sowed them possibly a bit closer than recommended on the packets, because I really dont want to take growing space away from my food crops, but I do like a few flowers dotted around.  These are all the tall ones.  I also have some medium and low growing ones to go in at some point.  I will sow them together per height in a couple of random places on the plot when I get around to it in the next few weeks.

I also sowed today in my miscellaneous bed:
lettuce – black seeded simpson
beetroot – boltardy

On 22nd April I sowed:
cucumber – La Diva – undercover
statice – Special Mixed – undercover

On 21st April I sowed:
sweetcorn – Swift  – undercover

On 3rd April I sowed:
Brussels sprout – Nautic

On 8th April I sowed:
calabrese – Aquiles
broccoli – Ironman

I had a splurge on 14th March, and sowed:
tomato – Ferline – undercover
tomato – Sweet Million – undercover
tomato – Bejbino – undercover
pepper (sweet) – Antohi Romanian – undercover
pepper (sweet) – DT Browns Mix – undercover

I also got the potatoes in, I think that was the Easter weekend, probably the Monday.
And I planted out the broadbeans – cant quite remember if I already recorded those here.  I must remember to check these things before I start a new post.

In between getting stuff sown, I have been digging the ground ready for tilling and raking to a tilth.  However much I try to get it nice and fine and level, it never looks the way the gardening programmes on tv do.  Ah well.  I suppose the important thing is to get the seeds sown.  After all, they wont grow if the arent in the ground!

So there you are – all up to date with what I have sowed so far.

Broad Bean chitting

Its the first of February and spring was in the air this morning, though now it has clouded over and started to rain heavily and gone more chilly.  After several days of high wind it was lovely to have some warm sunshine to cut through the chill of the air, and have a welcome break from the blusteriness of the last few days.
I have received the first part of my seed order from DT Browns, the Beat Food Inflation Collection; still waiting on the Allotment Collection.

So today I thought I would chit the broad beans – Bunyards Exhibition.  there are 74 seeds in the packet, gulp.
2013-02-01 14.45.38
Its a simple job to do.
First grab a tray, I have been saving old supermarket trays to reuse.  You could also just put some damp compost into a plastic bag, but as I have plenty of trays I used one of those.
Next half fill your tray with compost.  My compost had dried out over the winter, so I gave it a good soaking and let it sit for a bit.
Then add the beans, spread them out evenly, then cover with more moistened compost.
2013-02-01 14.46.47Next put the tray into a plastic bag, and pop it in the airing cupboard or somewhere warmish and dark.  You dont want it to be too hot, though.
Check on them every few days to make sure they are not getting dry, add a drop of water if necessary.
When you check on them, also check for signs of the little tails shooting through from the seed.

DSC02131

– like these

Once they have got a bit of roots happening I will seperate them into individual pots, probably 3″ ones.  Then they should be ready about 3 weeks from now to plant out.  I will put them 2″ deep and 9″ apart in a staggered pattern in double rows. I think the double row has to be 1′ apart, and more than 1xdouble row should have gaps of 2′ between them

Broad beans freeze well and can also be dried.

Allotment 2013 – seed order

I havent been able to get onto the plot to do any more as it has been so wet, we had snow last week which has now been washed away.
Its been so long since I went, I am quite nervous to go down there for the first time this year, as my imagination is running wild with what may have been happening since my last visit.  Will the lovely neighbours have donated another sofa or bed for me to clear away, did the fireworks of November and December leave any debris, have my onions shallots and garlic started growing or withered away, have all the weeds returned vigorously to the ground that I turned over?
I am also very reluctant to start pushing my spade in the soil again, as I know there were frogs and I understand that they bury themselves for the winter, and I would hate to accidentally chop any.
I must make the effort and get myself down there though, stop procrastinating.  Even if it is just for an hour.
I have however been drooling over the seed catalogues, and finally took the plunge with a big order from DT Brown –
the Ultimate Allotment Collection > http://www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk/seeds-plants-gardening/43049/ultimate-allotment-collection
and the Beat Food Inflation Vegetable Seed Collection > http://www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk/seeds-plants-gardening/43167/beat-food-inflation-vegetable-seed-collection.
What is in these 2 collections:

Broad Bean Bunyards Exhibition
French Bean Safari
Mangetout Pea Delikata
Runner Bean Galaxy
Beetroot Wodan F1
Calabrese Aquiles F1
Cabbage Minicole
Cauliflower All The Year Round
Carrots Chantenay Red Cored
Carrot Maestro
Courgette Zucchini
Lettuces Tom Thumb
Lettuce Soleison
D.T. Brown Salad Mix
Rocket Skyrocket
Leek Lyon (Prizetaker)
Parsnip White Gem
Pepper Antohi Romanian
Radish Fluo
Spinach Swan
Spring Onion Elody
Spinach Harrier
Sweetcorn Swift
Tomatoes Bejbino
Tomatoes Ferline
Runner Bean, Equator
French Bean, Montano
Broad Bean, Bunyards Exhibition
Pea, Oregon Sugar Pod
Beetroot, Boltardy
Calabrese, Ironman F1
Brussels Sprout, Nautic F1
Cabbage, Tundra F1
Cabbage, Golden Acre
Cauliflower, All Year Round
Carrot, Early Nantes 5
Carrot, Autumn King
Courgette, Defender F1
Cucumber, La Diva
Salad Leaves, Mixed Salad Leaves
Lettuce, All Year Round
Lettuce, Barcelona
Salad Leaves, D.T. Brown Salad Mix
Leek, Porvite
Spring Onion, White Lisbon
Spring Onion, North Holland Blood Red (Redmate)
Parsnip, Javelin F1
Peppers, D.T. Brown Sweet Pepper Mix
Squash, Butterboy F1
Radish, Fluo F1
Spinach, Swan F1
Sweercorn, Swift F1
Swede, Tweed F1
Turnip, Market Express
Tomato, Sweet Million F1
Tomato, Ferline F1
Onion Sets, Hercules
Shallot, Topper
Garlic, Solent Wight
Potatoes, Pentland Javelin
Potatoes, Charlotte
Potatoes, Maris Piper

Substitute varieties may be supplied.

I ordered these 5 days ago and they are supposed to arrive between 7-10 days so I hope to receive them any day now, and cant wait to get sowing.  I will start with the broad beans. And hopefully be able to blog about my successes and not failures.

The initial outlay is quite substantial, but I figure it has almost everything that I intended to grow this year and works out to about £1.44 per week, and will probably give me way more value than buying what I need from the shops each week, (everything seems to cost £1 a pack these days)  if I can manage to keep things going for the full 52 weeks or even 45+ weeks, and providing I manage to grow any of them, of course.  I reckon with all the problems with the weather and economy the prices will continue to rise way above what I am prepared to pay for my veggies, so with a bit of effort and good fortune I will be well fed for less £££.   I may even have too much — well I can dream cant I.   With a bit of luck I will be able to reduce my meat bill too, as I will be so stuffed with veggies and not have room for meat.
I must get my camera going again too.

The Alliums are in

  I got my alliums in today – onions Radar, shallots Yellow Moon, garlic Provence Wight.   There were supposed to be 100 onion (I didn’t count them but I got 6×10′ rows) 25 shallots (2 and a bit rows) and 3 bulbs of garlic (again didn’t count the number of cloves but it gave me 2 and a bit rows).

When I was done planting them I looked around and wasn’t sure what to do next; my only thought for the last week has been getting the root bed fit to sow the alliums.  I use the term ‘bed’ very loosely, I am sowing directly into the ground, not in raised beds, and the rest of the plot is still only very roughly dug with great big clods all over the place.

But I marked the rows with string and sticks so at least I will know where they are.  I dare say I ought to get some proper plant labels and such and be a bit more tidy and neat.  That’s hard for me at the best of times, I am not the tidiest of people in normal life, so I guess the plot will reflect that too.

For the next few weeks when the weather allows I will be working on re-digging what I already dug, as the grasses and weeds are already starting to come through again.  It should be easier this time though, with all the big clumps having been removed first time over, and the ground has been broken once so next time hopefully will be less hurtful on the back.
I also need to go round the edges and get rid of the brambles and miscellaneous unknown bits that where on my ‘do that later’ list.

There is still lots to be done as you can see, with luck and perseverance I will get it sorted in time for spring sowings.  I have so much planned ~ potatoes, beans, squashes, tomatoes, salads, roots, corn, brassicas, herbs and fruits.

I also need to look into companion planting and getting some flowers that will encourage the right kind of insects in to keep pests down for me.

Digging it over

Well it feels like it hasn’t stopped raining in the last 2 weeks, and we have had only a couple of dryish spells.
I finally stopped being a wimp and decided to get out there even if it was raining.  I did dodge out of the really heavy downpours, but with my wellies and ‘almost’ waterproofs, I can stay relatively comfortable.
When I was young I used to be out in all weathers, and up until about 10 years ago a bit of rain didn’t bother me too much, so I have either got soft as I have gotten older, or clothing isn’t as good as it used to be or the weather is worse now.
I must get some decent wet weather clothing, I suppose a camping and outdoors or equestrian type shop would have the needed attire.  I used to know where to find them all, but I am now a little out of touch.

I have been digging.  I have been digging a lot.
Now almost 3/4 of the plot has been very roughly dug over.  I realised early on that I could not keep stopping to pull out every bit of horsetail root that I came across as there is so much of it and I would never get the whole plot clear if I was to do that.  There were huge tussocks of grasses that were really heavy and difficult to move, but for the most part it was just a question of sticking the spade in and turning one square at a time.  It may seem to be laborious and time consuming, and indeed it is.  I have no doubt that a rotavator would have it done in a day.  However I now feel like I have got to know the plot extremely well, with the added bonus that I didn’t burn smelly horrible petrol or create an awful noise and I feel more in harmony with the environment.  The turf that was on top is now buried, and hopefully starting to rot down; as are a lot of other weeds, and any that are determined to grow back up are going to be easier to hoick out (technical gardening term) now the ground has been dug over once.  I will need to go over it all again, but now the heavy part has been done, with all the big stuff dug out and tossed to one side or turned over, the next go-over will be hopefully a lot easier.  There are a few shrubs which I have left in, one is definitely a buddleja but I am unsure what the others are.  I will let them alone and see if I can identify them next year by the flowers, leaves and fruits.  There is also some rhubarb and strawberries and what I think may be a chickpea; again this will be easier to identify next spring/summer.  Had I used a rotavator I doubt if I would have noticed them there, so another good point in favour of using a spade.

My onions, shallots and garlic have arrived (yay), so I will need to focus on the area that they are to go into over the coming days.  I was hoping to have it done before they came, but the weather put paid to that.  So I must toughen up and get on with it regardless of the rainfall.
I did want to get some before-pictures but I kept on forgetting to put my camera into my bag, so I will try to remember next time and take some now-photos.  Then it will be good to look back this time next year and see how much has changed.