Best seed varieties, making lists and drawing diagrams!
There is really nothing I like more than making a list. It is a compulsive thing, I don’t really use them I just make them and lose them at a later date.
Last night I started making a list of seeds I need to buy for next year – plus I made a diagram! Yes, a diagram of my garden so I can ensure correct crop rotation around my six raised beds. It’s scientific stuff you see, so all should be drawn and recorded.
I’m hoping to increase the size of my beds next year, in fact what I am going to do is make two very large long raised beds to make the most of my space. I’m hoping this will give me enough room to grow a few rows of potatoes.
I’m also planning to plant my beans in my flower bed along the fence, which will free up even more space in the veg beds for extra carrots and beetroot, more oriental vegetables, which grew really well this year, and some decent squash plants.
So with my list making under-way I’d really like to find out what your favourite varieties are before I start ordering. Please leave me a comment with your tried and trusted varieties of carrots/potatoes/beans and the like…
I’ll start off with my recommendations of ‘Perpetual Spinach’ (much easier to grow than true spinach), ‘Calypso Coriander’ (a fantastic cut-and-come again variety) and ‘Cavelo Nero’ (Italian black kale).
Would really appreciate tips for good ‘first-early’ and ‘second early’ potato varieties and reliable, but not too big squash types. Comments can be left at the bottom of this page.
Green tomato sorrow
See my ‘Guest Bed’ appearance on fab gardening blog Growing Up by Tom the ‘hapless gardener’ as he refers to himself. All about my poor tomatoes…..
Inspiration from the Malvern Garden Show
I enjoyed my first ever visit to the RHS Malvern Garden Show on the weekend. Got some fantastic inspiration and did some shopping too (the shopping is great).
When I got back I realised I should have been spending time in my own garden, not looking at show gardens. Weeds everywhere, plants in need of water, plants still in pots that need planting out. It just seems like there is so much to do in the garden at the moment. Though I have to pinch myself that it is only May because things are growing so fast.
I’ve already harvested all of my first row of radishes, perpetual spinach is coming thick and fast, as is the pak choi (in both bright green and deep purple). The cut-and-come-again coriander (a variety called calypso) is big, healthy and ready to harvest whilst the carrots next to it are growing well.
Lettuce is being picked every day, in fact I can’t pick it fast enough, and there are plenty of herbs to go around. I enjoy a fresh mint tea most evenings now, lovely and relaxing and calming for the stomach. Just pop a large spring in a mug and fill with boiling water, allow to steep for five minutes and then drink.
These were some of my highlights from Malvern:
April – perfect gardening weather
The weather has been so amazing recently I’ve gone crazy in the garden. I’ve been planting left, right and centre in a green-fingered frenzy. I have, without a doubt, taken on too much this year. Not only have I taken on more work this year, particularly freelance writing, I have started running and dance classes. On top of that I’m trying to get out in the garden as much as possible.
At the end of March I planted my first rows of carrots, beetroot, pak choi, radish, perpetual spinach and cut-and-come again coriander. Plus some cut-and-come again lettuce and rocket in a container.I also got my first lot of tomato seeds on the go and they are now healthy little plants (a super early variety called Latah from the Real Seed catalogue) and then some more tomato varieties that need to be potted on soon as they have two sets of leaves (the classic Gardeners Delight and Brandywine – a beefsteak variety). Lastly I’ve done modules of savoy cabbage and cavelo nero.
This weekend just gone I planted another row of carrots, some sorrel, borage in the herb garden and edible flowers dotted about the flower beds.
I sowed my courgette and squash seeds which are sitting in my propagator and I got my bean canes in place ready. So all in all I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.The sooner you can get things into the ground the sooner you’ll be eating all that delicious homegrown produce that’s my thought.
So it is goodbye to the tulips – mine came early and have given up already, but hello pear blossom and would you believe strawberry flowers! All I need now is a few bees to pollinate them and I’ll have strawberries in May….
Latest ‘grow your own’ column out now
My next ‘Novice kitchen gardener’ column is out now in Fork magazine. This time I’m talking about sowing seeds – lot and lots of seeds! Plenty of tips for catching up, if you’re a bit behind with your garden. The weather is so fantastic at the moment everything in the ground is growing like mad (including the weeds unfortunately) and plants in pots need regular watering and attention. Though it’s warm at the moment be aware it still gets cold at night, don’t plant out any tender plants, keep them inside at night unless you have a greenhouse or cold frame to store them in until May/June.
Sowing seeds for spring
It’s only March but the sowing season has begun in earnest and with the dry, sunny weekend you could almost have believed spring was round the corner.
It’s actually quite a way off, but preparation now is essential if your garden is to be full of flowers and tasty vegetables by summer. And so a trip to the garden centre for plug plants was in order.
I went a bit mad and under-estimated just how many plants I was buying. I now have very little windowsill space left anywhere in the house. Them windowsills are populated with 24 little geranium plants, in various pinks and white, 20 white impatiens, and long trays full of lobelia. Boyfriend is not impressed, and was even less impressed having to help me pot up all these little plugs outside yesterday.
Can’t say I was particularly enjoying myself either, having hands that suffer from bad circulation anyway, in the cold they went practically numb and gloves are no good with delicate tiny plants.
- But I know it will be worth it in May when I have over 50 handsome plants ready to go into the garden and bloom all summer long. The whole lot cost me less than £14 and will fill a vast space in my beds.
On top of this I’ve just started off the first of my tomatoes. I’ve sown my early variety Latah and will sow Gardeners Delight and Brandywine in three or four weeks time so I can extend the cropping season. The challenge now is to keep my eye on all these plants, turning them around frequently to stop them bending towards the light and keeping them watered.
Once we hit April it’s time to launch into outdoor sowing, with carrots, beetroot, lettuce, radishes, herbs and more. Then it will be growing courgettes, squashes and beans in pots ready for planting in May. I can’t wait!
First grow-your-own column in Fork magazine now!
The first in a series of grow-your-own features written by me in Fork magazine is out now. Fork is a South West based food magazine that is all about real food, great writing and local food issues. You can buy copies at delis, food shops, garden centres and many other places in Bristol and across the South West. As of April it will be on news stands in Waitrose supermarkets as well. My new column charts my noivce vegetable growing skills and aims to inspire and encourage more people to take up ‘growing your own’. Hope you get a chance to take a look.
Start of the year: buying seeds
If you enjoy food and cooking it often follows that you will enjoy gardening and growing fruit and vegetables. For some this may not be the case, but there is a growing population of grow-your-own converts in this country and I am one of them. It only started last year when I bought my own house with a substantial family garden covered in grass. Now over half is given over the fruit and vegetables and if I had my way the over half would be home to a few chickens.
This time of the year the garden looks positively sad. Shivering cold, bare, brown, shrivelled up. But this week I started getting the early excitement of getting back out their again.
I think it is because up until the end of December I am focussed on Christmas, buying presents and everything else. In January there is little more to look forward to than spring – and with spring comes the growing season. So yesterday I started ordering my seeds, which for me is a crazy and out-of-control affair that involves buying far too many seeds. This inevitably leads to the disapproving look of my partner who reminds me that growing your own is supposed to be cheap. I got around the issue this year by going halves on large seed packets with my brother – who is launching himself into gardening full pelt this year.
I have plenty of seed left from last year of the usual suspects, such as runner beans, courgettes, lettuce etc. But one look on the Real Seed catalogue, which is full of heirloom and old varieties of vegetables and I was sucked in to buying some new seeds.
Minidor Yellow dwarf French beans
Belleville leaf sorrel (a sharp lemony leaf)
Magenta Magic Orach (Orach is a leaf that can be eaten in salads or cooked)
Dragons Tongue (a mustard green for cooking or eating raw)
Tsoi Sim Japanese shoot green (an Oriental green)
Burgess Vine Buttercup Squash (perfect for small plots)
Double Standard sweetcorn
Latah bush type tomato
Jaune Obtuse de Doubs yellow carrot (bought partly because it has the best name ever, partly because it is a beautiful butter yellow colour and also because it apparently tastes delicious)
I’m hoping to persuade boyfriend that fig tree is a good idea for our wall. Although he has only just got over my order of nine raspberry plants that now line the fence at the bottom of the garden! Oh well.