March Vegetable Planting…

It’s been busy around here, as well as getting the Squash/Pumpkin on the way (see last post) I have been a busy bee making the most of the warm (ish) weather and have started off all the March seeds.  So, this month I have sown:

In the greenhouse (under cloches)

Climbing French Bean – ‘Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco’ x 10

Climbing French Bean – ‘Blue Lake Climbing‘ x 5

Pak Choi – ‘Mei Qing Choi’ x 5

Pak Choi‘Joi Choi’ x 5

In the house

Courgette‘Soleil’ x 2

Courgette‘Defender’ x 2

(and the Squash – again, see the last post)

Direct in the garden

Spring Onion‘North Holland Blood Red’ x 2 Rows

Radish – ‘Cherry Bell’ & ‘Sparkler’ (I mixed the seeds in the packet) x 2 Rows

Lettuce‘Red Sails’ x 1 Row

All the above are the usual tried and tested, and all are planted with at least 2 seeds per pot so the weakest seedling can be removed.  I have learnt to only grow small amounts of most things, enough for us to eat but not get totally bored and so quite often seed carries over from one year to the next.  The only new items on the list are the Climbing Beans, I quite fancied ‘Barlotto’ as the beans are so pretty and they are good for drying and the ‘Blue Lake’ have been sitting around for a while so they need using.

I decided to plant out the 2 gutters of Beetroot started in the Greenhouse in early February (I should mention, I went to do this only to realise I hadn’t allocated space in the veg beds – duh! – so have planted them in flower Bed 1 between the Spring bulbs where there was still some space).  They have mostly germinated and are still at the seed leaf stage but I need the space and they need better light.  I have ordered some slug nematodes the first of which arrive in April (I think) so it’s a little risky to be putting out such small seedlings now, they may well get munched.  On which note (sob!) the blooming things have eaten my Kale, the ones that had survived a whole winter only to get eaten when planted out into it’s nice new raised bed, grrrrr, I still have one growing but it’s pretty small and I will simply plant up new seed next month.  Correction, I have none left as on going out to photograph the second, that has also been eaten 😦

The last thing to mention is the Rhubarb, which is going crazy!  It’s only on the third year, it cropped well last year although I left a lot of the stalks in place, as you are supposed to do in year two, but they obviously (both the ‘Champagne’ and ‘Timberly Early’) must like their little spot as they are definitely thriving.

Quick update, I wrote this post earlier this week and today the slug nematodes arrived.  I have the repeat (3, I think) batch order so they will arrive at intervals and hopefully keep the slugs under control without having to resort to other means.  It’s great timing at we are set for warm (above 5 degrees at night, only just mind!) temperatures and rain which is the ideal conditions for the nematodes to more around in the soil.  I wont chat too much about them as the link above tells you everything you need to know, but they are worth buying if you suffer from slugs.

Squash and Pumpkin…

Ever impatient I couldn’t wait until April to start my Squash and Pumpkin seeds and decided to get them going this week.  After last years success I have decided to plant 8 different types this year, opting for:

  • Turk’s Turban
  • Butternut Harrier F1
  • Sweet Dumpling
  • Buttercup
  • Crown Prince
  • Gem/Rolet
  • Mariana di Chioggia
  • Dill’s Atlantic Giant

I didn’t have any ‘Crown Prince’ seeds left but I did have one of the squash stored from last September, uneaten, so I cut it open to save (and plant) the seeds (and of course cook the flesh).

I was amazed at how fresh it was inside considering it’s been sitting on a window ledge looking pretty and drying out.  The seeds were washed and laid out on a plate to dry, I only saved a few but on drying half have cracked so it’s worth starting with quite a lot more than you plan to keep.  The seeds need to air dry for about 1 week before being packaged up and stored in a cold dry place.

I am growing to same varieties as last year, with the addition of ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’ and ‘Mariana di Chioggia‘ which is covered in a warty green skin – I’ve discovered I rather like the ugly looking ones!

I love how the seeds give a good indication of the final fruit size.  Once the weather has warmed up the plants will be potted up into huge containers bought from The Garden Superstore (as per last year), I mainly have 125 litre pots but I am going to try the smaller squash (‘gem’ and ‘sweet dumpling’) in smaller pots and see how they go.  I will remove the top foot of soil and replace along with some manure before planting out.

For now the seeds need soaking overnight and planted 2 per 10cm pot indoors.  The seeds are pushed about 1 inch deep and left to germinate in a warmish spot covered in plastic and kept moist, if both seeds germinate I’ll remove the weakest (the seeds are pushed in vertically to stop them rotting, doesn’t matter which way up).  You can’t plant them out until June and once going they grow quickly hence not starting them until April, unless you are impatient like me!  They do need a long growing season so they most be on the go pretty early in our UK climate.

Right, back to work, I need to blog all the recent vegetable planting but that will have to wait as I plan to make the most of the sun whilst it’s here 🙂

March Flower Planting…

Here comes the sun and I’m loving it!  I have spent quite a lot of time in the garden recently, things are warming up so I wanted to get ahead on the flower beds and get some seeds in to germinate.  I have a raised beds, no dig system so all I have to do is make sure any roots from last year are removed and pull out any weeds.  Quite a few of the Hardy Annuals self seed so it’s worth leaving any seedlings in and seeing what they start to turn into before removing them.

So, already germinating in the kitchen are Cleome seeds (Violate Queen) that were planted last month, they are for the flower borders and are well on their way, they should help fill the huge gap I had last year towards the end of summer, I have also germinated SchizanthusDr Bager’ and I think some Malope Trifida seeds that have no label.  DidiscusBlue Lace‘ & RudbeckiaCappuccino‘ are in the greenhouse under a fancy new cloche I bought with cardboard underneath.  I bought these as a pack of 3 from Crocus and they are a bit of a nightmare to put together, I had help from Mr C, if having a 2 year old stealing your screws as you need them can be called help.  It’s really early to be attempting to germinate seeds in an unheated greenhouse be we are forecast such a warm week and with the cloche I hope to get some results.

Also in the greenhouse under the cloche I have planted for the cutting beds:

Helianthus/Sunflower)Chianti‘ x 8

…that’s it.  Hummm, I was expecting to write a nice list but that really is it.  I put Calendula Officianlis/French MarigoldIndian Prince’ direct into the ground also under a cloche and I plan to sow Salvia Horminum ‘Blue Clary’ (which usually self seeds but I can’t see any this year), Tithonia Rotundiflora/Mexican SunflowerTorch‘ for a possible gap where I should be putting Scabiosa (I have no seed and it should be germinating now) and Bupleurum for use as foliage, all in pots for transplant outside later.

There isn’t a lot for picking in the garden, only some Hellabores (Argifolius and some rather pretty Orientalis) but I am very excited to see all the Spring bulbs peeking out of the soil and can’t wait for their colourful displays, for the meantime I am happy to look at the Aricula that have survived a winter of neglect in the greenhouse and are now flowering indoors after a feed and a clean up.

February Vegetable Planting…

On Saturday (before the storms of Sunday) I spent a good hour in the garden, the boys were a bit stir crazy and the weather was good so we went outdoors for a run around.  It always surprises me how much you can get done in a small time, really the veg patch was a bit of a mess and in just an hour I cleared a lot away, dug out quite a few weeds, cleared all the pots and apple crate planters, in general made a mess quite presentable.

So I sowed seeds for:

Corn SaladVerte De Cambrai


Sorrel FrenchRumex Actosa

LettuceReine De Glace

In four of the apple crates, the last still has Mizuna/Mibuna (as above) that has survived all winter, not sure how it will taste, we’ll try some soon.  Really it’s a bit early to be sowing these but we are due rain and warm-ish weather so I’ll give it a go and I can always cloche them if I need to.  I used to plant nice neat rows of lettuce, in contrasting colours (it looked very pretty) but I just chucked the seeds all over the place this time, one type per crate.

In the pots, I cleared through one containing Parcel, again that has been on the go all winter, I thinned it cut it back and added a lot of new soil so we’ll see if it flourishes again.  The only other pot to survive is ThymeOld English‘.   I now have a few cleaned and ready pots for planting further herbs when it gets a bit warmer.

In the raised beds I started planting up Bed 3 which is normally used for flowers, I have decided to rotate it to veg this year.  So far it has 2 x Kale that have survived the winter but have never really taken off, if the slugs don’t get them they might still grow.  I have also planted out 3 rows of Shallots (‘Longer’) as per last years instructions and finally a row of Parsnip (‘Gladiator’) seeds, these are on their third year and as parsnip seeds don’t keep in theory wont germinate but they did last year so we’ll wait and see.  The dotted lines are spring bulbs planted very deep from when this bed contained flowers so I’m limited to what I can put there, although I may plant some Lettuce or Radish between.

Inside the house all the seeds planted back in the last post have germinated.  I was extremely surprised to see the Cucumber seeds poking through in less than a week!  After last years pathetic attempts is seems the trick is to keep them nice and warm under a radiator.  They are getting a big leggy so will need to planted up soon into bigger pots with most of the stems buried to root more firmly.

Finally, the blooming birds pretty much destroyed my glorious Red Sprouting Broccoli, I have been growing 6 plants in Bed 1 since last year and they were doing really well, I was rather looking forward to weeks of florets but went out one day to find them pecked to pieces.  I have thrown a net over and hope to still get some florets to eat, I swear, I nearly cried!  Also, the Broad BeansSuper Aquadulche‘ didn’t appreciate the harsh weather we’ve been having and gave up, I have cut the stems back to the bottom (as they might sprout back) but today I pushed some new beans into the soil in the hope there will be enough goodness for them to grow.