Tag Archives: seeds

Sowing 2014

The veg garden has undergone a redesign during the early part of this year. Partly prompted by the back log of deep bedded houses to clean out and partly so as it is easier to manage with more defined growing areas and straighter, wheelbarrow friendly paths.

Raspberry bed with sheep sulk decoration. Extra yellow raspberry canes were added to the bed early in the year and a bag of daffodils to add some spring colour to the vegetable garden ~ April 2014

Raspberry bed with sheep sulk decoration. Extra yellow raspberry canes were added to the bed early in the year and a bag of daffodils to add some spring colour to the vegetable garden ~ April 2014

There is still some work to do including some refencing, the clearing of an area and the erecting of a small polytunnel we bought seconded-hand a few years ago and the clearing and reskinning of the 30ft polytunnel we bought with us when we moved from Herefordshire some 20 years-ago but we now seem to have a much clearer vision of what the end result should look like.

Seed sowing began last month and has reached the stage of the bath and shower being filled each night with plants that are spending their days outside and the windowsills have been filled with second or third loads of trays, modules and root trainers. This year the focus has been on using what we already have in readiness to buy ‘pure’ seeds; moving away from large brightly packed seeds from multinational companies with no ethical code or care for if the seeds are suited to back garden growing to plainer packets from small UK based seed companies and handwritten notes from people with a passion for what they growing.

Oca starting off inside; these plants have such lovely leaves at this age ~ April 2014

Oca starting off inside; these plants have such lovely leaves at this age ~ April 2014

Of course new seeds have been aquired; ‘at the till’ packets have been impulsivly bought, seed swaps have been attended and a few carefully selected packs have been picked out. The most noteable of these being Oca tubes from a seed swap, a plant which I have been wanting to try for a few years and Pumpkin Nut squash which I tracked down after reading about them on The Snail of Happiness’s blog last year. How they shelled the pumpkin seeds for eating had been something I had been pondering for a while and this provided the answerer!

Germation rates have been hit and miss as some of the seed is so old, some of it with sow by dates dating back to the early 2000’s from my dad’s boxes of seeds, and I haven’t been really keeping a record of what and how much has come up instead tipping half or whole packets into pots and seeing what happens.

I haven’t kept complete records of what has been sown either as I only started in March and had already sown some tomatos and started off onion sets in pots by then but from then it is roughly as follows.

Tomato seedlings ~ April 2014

Tomato seedlings ~ April 2014

March 9th: leeks sown

March 20th: Dwarf french been sown

March 22nd: Sweet dumpling squash, cauli, lettuce and cucumber sown

April 5th: Climbing french beans (purple), black cherry tom, goldena, zuchini, black beauty and tondo di piacenza courage, uchihi kuri and pumpkin nut squash sown

Pink Fur Apple potatoes planted out.

April 13th: Yellow pear, yellow stuffer, black cherry, yellow tumbler and garden pearl tomatoes, firestorn runner beans sown

April 21st: Sunbaby, sweet million F1, darby striped and tiger tom tomatoes, Zucchini, golden and nano verde di milaon courgettes, greyhound cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, quick heading broccoli, magic mix and all the year round cauliflower, lemon cucumber and little gem lettuce sown

My chickens have been providing a more balanced end to the slugs and snail collecting I have done, using them as a tasty treat feels a more comfortable disposal than the dilemma I was faced with before

Plant growing and sowing

What a difference a day makes, I started writing this yesterday and today when I have gone round all my pots again checking that I hadn’t missed anything off there were green shootings in most of the pots of soil from yesterday…

In spite of my best laid plans I have managed to lose track of what I have sown; some of it through my own laziness, “I will write labels later” kind of thing, and some of it because the permanent markers the I bought especially for writing on plant labels fades and washing off.

I have completely lost track of my garlic project and, other than the elephant garlic, have no idea which the other bulbs are and have just put them in so as not to lose the crop whilst trying to piece together what is what out. I’m sure it will still taste good but it would have been interesting to see the results of what did best.

Spring Greens - 20th April 2011

Spring Greens - 20th April 2011

Still to be sown: Carrots,  

Indoors waiting to appear: Poppies, sweetcorn, runner & bobby beans, courgettes, self-saved squash seed two types little green ones and last years Boston, peas, 100s & 1000s red toms, aubergines, strawberries, a module tray that I think contains some sort of flowers and possibly some sort of Brassica just starting to push up it’s tender green leafs

Soaking seeds - 15 April 2011

Soaking seeds - 15th April 2011

Outdoors waiting to appear: Cauliflowers, red & green Sprouts, Spring Greens, broccli, pansies, peas, parsnips and bush dwarf booby beans

Up, outside and waiting be potted on or planted out:  Spring Greens, Sunflowers, Sweetpeas, leeks, Boston Squash, Patty-Pan Summer squash, Green Bush courgettes, Jack O’ Lanterns pumpkins, beetroot, yellow cherry pear toms, sweet basil, purple sprouting, kale, parsley, chillies and lots of salad

In grown at allotment: Potatoes, garlic, cauliflowers, beetroot

Hidden treasure

Lost seeds - 23rd March 2011

Lost seeds - 23rd March 2011

I buy too many seeds, or have done. Only buying what I need or will use is something that I am working on and getting good at. This has meant that this year I am concentrating on using up the seeds I already have up and of most things I have more than enough to last a few years.

This morning I found a nice little surprise when I was unpacking a draw unit that hasn’t been used for a few year – a whole draw full of seeds that I completely lost track of!

Red hollyhocks, sunflowers and PSB - 23rd March 2011

Red hollyhocks, sunflowers and PSB - 23rd March 2011

After sorting through them and dusting off the packets I started on using them up and have sown some red Hollyhocks, sunflower seeds and some Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Most of the seeds are herbs which I haven’t really grown many of before so I’m looking forward to try them out and seeing how I get on.

Seed saving

Over the past year or so I’ve been more and more interested in where the seeds for the vegetables, and next year flowers, that I want to grow actually come from. And it really isn’t easy to answer questions like where was this grown, how was it grown and will it actually produce anything if I grow it on my wind-swept allotment plot.

Horse chestnut seeds - 21st November 2010

The answer to this is something that I have been developing and refining for a while now, last year I tried to only buy seeds from The Real Seed Company and if I couldn’t then I made sure I found a non-F1 varieties, in fact I think I found The Real Seed Company when searching for a non-F1 variety of sweetcorn so my thoughts and actions about the subject have criss-crossed a little.

My reasons for stopping using F1 varieties was something a long the lines of by growing F1 varieties I wouldn’t be able to save my own seeds and have them grow ‘true’ again, my reasons for buying seeds from The Real Seed Company was that I would be able to save my own seed, with a little work, and had a postcode for where the seeds were grown.

Bobby (french) beans; hopefully the start of next years crop - 19th of November 2010

 I failed to do that ‘little work’ this year and so had set myself up to buy next years seed again. That is until I went to a Seed Saving talk given by Jude and Michel who set up The Seed Savers Network 25 years ago, The Seed Savers Network coordinates a network of seed saving groups across Australia and now works in 20 other countries across the world as well. 

I very stupidly didn’t take any notes like I had planned to but the most important message that I took from the meeting is to just go for it. Seed saving is something that the majority of people no longer feel they have the knowledge or skills to do in this country and that also seems to be spreading now to third world countries too. 

So I am going to stop making excuses as to why I can’t and just go ahead and do something. I have a few beans left at the allotment that were missed and so now hopefully have seeds big enough to grow from next year, I have my lovely squash that I grew this year, a courgette that turned into a marrow that i picked before the first hard frost hit and some squash seeds saved from squash ‘bought’ at the last LETS meeting and there are pages and pages of information and seed packet templates on Google.

And the answer to my excuse about not doing the ‘little work’ so as these seeds grow true again next year; well we all like to try growing new things and so long as it tastes good what does it matter if they are not the same as last year. I may even end up with my very own local variety in a few years time.

A surprise on YouTube – the seed parcel returns

I don’t really go on my YouTube channel very often, and the last time I was there was two months ago according to when the last video was up-loaded – a big surprise as it told me it was an incompatible format for uploading.

The last video I made was when the seed parcel got back to me, but as I didn’t have a proper camera I tried recording it on my phone (hence the bad sound) when I tried to up-load it told me it didn’t work but it has.

So here it is, better late than never…

It happened again

Snow - 18th February 2010

Well, we are one of the worst hit areas of todays snow and the world outside is now white once again.

The sheep are already feed up and waiting at the gate for us to get on and do something about it. The geese (still no gander) are shut away again with chickens of all things, what do we think they are? And the goats are stood in the house looking out with “if you think I’m going out in that you can forget it” looks on their faces.

The pigs, however, where having mad races and were happy enough when I took them some extra bedding just before it got dark.

My seed orders have arrived though, just waiting on the seed potatoes now.

Allotment 18/01/2010 – The first visit of the year and a seed plan

On Thursday me and mother went to look allotment, which had started to defrost like everywhere else. The brook, or possibly drainage ditch, on the other side of the hedge was full to bursting with the amount of water that was following down the field, there was still a lot of ice that was laying unmelted on the ground so we left the van at the gate and walked onto the site and up to our plots, it wasn’t good news when we got there.  

The rabbits have had EVERYTHING, and I mean everything. They had ripped through the nets that were keeping them off and eaten it all to the ground, they really must have been starving. On the way back from the allotment we saw a lone rabbit out on the first part of green grass busily eating, it was so busy it didn’t even run away from us.

I am annoyed, but not as mad as I have been other times that they have eaten crops. I feel sorry for them really, the snow has been covering the ground for so long now and wildlife has probably been hit the hardest. We had a look around and they have even managed to get onto others plots who have rabbit fencing up so we are not the only ones and knowing how much some people have spent on rabbit fencing there are going to be some really mad people.

During the last of the cold weather I spent an evening going through my list of things to grow, my seed boxes and seed company websites. This is what it looks like;

To grow, along with current seeds I already have:

Potatoes – chosen

Peas – Half Pint, Bulmoral, Oasis, Juguar

Runner Beans –

Courgettes –

Squash – Bon Bon (open packet), Scallop (op)

Kale – Red Russian, Nero di Toscanna

Swede – Virtue (op)

Leeks – Musselburgh, Elefant

Carrots – Afghan Purple, Early Natues 5, Chantenay Red Cored 2, unmarked packet, Cosmic Purple, unmarked packet, Dragon, Flakkee, Janne du Doubs, Atomic Red

Beetroot – Burpees Golden, Chioggia, Detroit 2, Perfect 3, Pronto, Cylindra

French Beans –

Cauliflower – All the Year Round (op)

Parsnips –

Cabbage – Roodkap, Golden Acre Primo 2, Offenham 2, Durham Early, Greyhound, Wintergreen, January King

Broccoli/Purple Sprouting – Autumn Spear, Raab ’60 Days’, unmarked packet purple sprouting

Sprouts – Falstaff (red), Evesham Special Green

Garlic –

Onions – Spring

Sweetcorn – Incredible F1, Supersweet

Mustrooms – Agaricus, White Button, Chestnut Button

Real Seed Company shopping list:

Cosse Violette Purple pole bean, Boston squash, , Waltham Butternut, Striato d’Napoli courgette, Tender and True parsnip, Golden Sweet Yellow podded mange-tout pea, Temuco Quinoa

Thompson & Morgan shopping list:

Potatoes, Sun Bright runner bean.

There are somethings like sweetcorn and cauliflower that I had planned on getting special seeds of but I already have two boxes of seed so am going with what I have for this year. For runner beans and french beans I already have seed but I want to change to climbing beans as the dwarfs haven’t done well for the last few years. Parsnip seeds are also some that I have a packet of but it is already an open packet and everything I have read about parsnips say use fresh seeds, so they are on the shopping list. I will still of course try the open packet just in case as I can’t throw seeds away, it is just something that is completely against my nature.

The next plans to make are a) where am I going to put all this stuff, and b) how am I going to keep the rabbits of it!

Watching things grow

This morning the tray of lettuce seeds was starting to show small yellow-y leaves just starting to unfold, this evening the trays are filling up with tiny little plants with two green leaves. I’ve been watching the change happen throughout the day as I’ve popped in and out of the house for different things, it has been amazing to watch.

In a month or so we will be eating these little plants, that are barely more then two leaves. They could so easily be over looked and this morning they were less than that.

If the camera was working I would have taken photos but sadly it’s batteries are flat.

Seed sowing

At the last LETS meeting I had a very interesting conversation with one of the other members about seed sowing. She is trying out square foot gardening and her brother send her a book that she has been reading. The most interesting and useful part that she has found is that we buy and plant far too many seeds, and it is very right. At this very minute I have an open packet of cabbage seeds in front of me, average contain 350 seeds. They are not the only type of cabbage I have, off the top of my head I can think of two other verities sitting in my seed box.

Even just thinking about one of the packets of cabbage seeds, 350 cabbages is a lot even for a big family and takes up a lot of growing room.

I hate seeing wasted seedlings, or wasted seeds that aren’t ever going to grow but am guilty of just sowing the whole packet, after all I’ll find room somewhere for them, and of course most of them just go to waste or don’t reach their full potential or productiveness because of lack of time, it takes a lot longer to pot on a whole packet of seeds then just the dozen or some plants that are needed, or lack of space.

The book says something about changing your attitude to growing and it is completely right, if my seed box was my main way of feeding myself I would be much more carefully about only sowing what I needed and planning a head, after all I’m not going to eat 350 cabbages in a few weeks so it is much better to plan what I am going to need, say a dozen at a time, and then have another dozen coming on for a few weeks later. 

I have no idea what the book is called or who it is by, and I very much doubt I would get round to reading it if I did but it all fits with what I am trying to do: be more self-sufficient, sustainable and less wasteful so I am going to try and work with it.

So today I have carefully counted and sown:  

  • 24 Musselburgh leeks
  • 54 lettuce
  • 60 Ferrari french beans
  • 12 Raab ’60 days’ broccoli
  • 12 Red Russian kale
  • 12 All the Year cauliflowers
  • 12 January King cabbages

I haven’t done the best job of planning for them, and I know it’s not the best time of year to sow all of the seeds, leeks are very late but small leeks are better than nothing.

The other day I carefully counted out and sowed 30 Greyhound cabbages that are just starting to show their heads. 30 cabbage is a lot but I will learn

Allotment 11/05

PICT0150Ok, so we have had the allotment for about five weeks now, and I think it is coming along nicely. Everyone else on the site seems to either have put in plants that they already had growing or bought in so it doesn’t look as green as some other plots but there is still a lot growing. I called into to our ‘local’ (about 15 – 20 miles away local) Countrywide store today and was looking at some of their vegetable plants and couldn’t believe the prices they were charging for them. £3.49 for about ten cabbage plants, why not just buy a packet of seeds for half the price with 350 seeds? it makes so much more sense to me to buy seeds and raise them yourself. 

On Sunday me and Rhys spent most of the afternoon there, he watered and marked out beds while I dug and sowed seeds. I also draw a ‘site plan’ of what is already sown to help keep track of it as I know I will have forgotten which type of beet or carrot was planted where by the time they are ready to harvest:allotment drawing

There is alot more of the plot left than there seems to be from my drawing, about half is marked out now so there is still another half to go. So far there are three different verities of beetroot sown, three different peas and red and green spring onions. I’ve also put out the last ten cloves are garlic that were in the bottom of my seed bag, I know it is the wrong time of year for them now but they will do something. 

Potato Mimi, in their buckets on one of the 'manured beds

Potato Mimi, in their buckets on one of the 'manured beds

At home I have sown runner beans, winter squash, sweetcorn, tomato and three different verities of courgette. One of the cats used the courgettes that I sowed last week as a litter tray so I have have started again. The french beans that I sowed about a month ago are slowly coming through, I don’t think they like the paper pots that much.

The cauliflower, kale rocket and cabbage are all coming through nicely (so long as the cat stops using the seed trays as a sunbed) I had to order some more rocket and kale seeds last week as I’d sown all the Black Tuscany that I had and that is our favourite verity. I saw my first white cabbage butterfly at the cows field over the weekend so none of them will be going out until I have sorted a brassica bed with brassica netting of some sort after last year.