Friday, February 27, 2009



Well I saw the first signs of life in the first seedlings this morning. The hot peppers in fact, speedy little blighters.
But what is sprouting most are the early potatoes, chitting in the pantry. So I had best plant a few of those this weekend. The weather here is lovely, and I am sure that the ground will have heated up a bit this week, in full sun. So this weekend: first potatoes, first peas, first carrots and first beetroots. If I am that keen...

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Monday, February 16, 2009


Seeds galore

I should know better now than to buy seeds without looking to see if I still have some. I hope peas work this year because I now have no less than 4 packets! But some come from Lidl, bought for a song, so it's no great loss.
I found I had bought double of courgettes, and that I still had left tons of lettuce (buggered if I can get it to grow! I will have a last ditch attempt), leeks, Florence fennel (which no one wants to eat at my place except me and there is a limit to how much you want, really. Smallest One says, "Oh plant that again" I said "But you don't eat that?" she retorts, "No but it's great fun to pull it up...")
I am tortured by past failures: should I attempt again to grow the melons and sweet peppers? Or write them off as a bad joke? ooh but I do have seeds left.... quandary...
I noticed that many have February as the sowing month so I had better get a move on, especially for the chili peppers and aubergines. I do keep saying I will make a seed hotbox with a old showerscreen I picked up but so far I haven't got that organised...

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A spiny tale

Hmm why did I choose on the same day to 1) trim the raspberries and 2) cut down a blackberry vine that keeps rearing back its ugly head? On a day when I didn't have my proper work gloves with me? Needless to say I got ripped to buggery. Just this morning I squeezed the last reluctant bit of thorn out of a throbbing end of index finger. Feels champion now.
Spring being almost upon us, I did a bit of a tidy up down the lottie, with my new secateurs (lost the other ones, probably find them in the compost bin next year). I hacked down the lemon balm and lemon verbena stalks, the dried parsley stems, the enormous rocket stems that had sprung up wild, chopped down the marguerite stems and trimmed back the rasps and gooseberries that are rapidly starting to bud. The strawberries also got a haircut, revealing budding crowns that will soon start flowering methinks.
I love spring, the rhubarb is making small pink spheres that will spring up to be rhubarb stems soon enough, the artichoke is starting to spread out and the parsley and thyme are starting to come back to life.
I planted a row of Aquadulce broad beans, didn't overwinter them this year, so I will see how they do.
Next week, I will start the onions. A friend wants to swop some leftover garlic with some yellow onions so I am happy to oblige, it will always supplement the overwintered garlic and it is quite nippy still, so it should be cold enough for it to still bulb.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009



As it is still a bit too cold here to do much, I went to the garden centre (hey I gotta keep focussed somehow). They had the new onions and potatoes out....oohhhhh irresistible.
I came away with:
500g of round echalotes
250g of Jermor echalotes (there are already a few in the ground, see what the best method is for those)
250 jeune paille des vertus onions
500g of some other yellow onions
500g of red onions (yum, I love those)
1.5 kgs of Charlottes (mid seasons)
1.5 kgs of Fontane, a late cropper, apparently gives a good yield.
2kgs of Anoe, a new variety of earlies that is said to gave heavy crops with excellent flavour and a better storer than the Belle de Fontenay... we'll give it a try.
I also got another box of some green beans as I don't quite have as many as I would like.
So now I feel more motivated to start the spring gardening works, now that I have forked out near 40 euros on tubers! The crop had better be good!
unfortunately I forgot while I was there to get myself a new pair of secateurs so I will have to go to the hypermarket this week and get some because I really want to do the fruit section this weekend, trim the raspberries and strawberries, weed it all and mulch and manure it. I now have quite a big fruit section and hopefully the other berries like the redcurrants will give a little this year too.
I also received my package from Alan Romans seeds! I did quite well for myself I thought: I ordered:
more of those lovely Parador courgettes (and extras so I can make some for my neighbours)
some Green Sprouting calabrese broccoli,
some Bruseel Sprouts (Montgomery variety)
Boltardy beets,
Healthmaster carrots
some green beans whose name I have forgotten (oh wait, Cobra),
Totem and Tigerella tomatoes,
Swift sweetcorn
pimento hot peppers
White Gem parsnips
All that for 13 quid. I thought it was an excellent bargain. Now I just have to grow the bloody things.

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Monday, February 02, 2009


Wintery tasks

Despite it being bitterly cold, I knew I had to make the effort to start this year's gardening or all would be lost. I was temporarily motivated by the new seed collection appearing at Lidl! New varieties! Despite my brain's protests that their seeds aren't always the best, I told myself that the bad weather last year was mostly to blame and grabbed a handful of 18-day radish, nantaise carrots, some tasty looking courgettes, some Kelvedon Wonder peas, those nice yellow Kingshorn Wax beans that I always do well with, and a mixture of cocktail tomatoes, including Sungold! all for about 1.50 euros.
On Sunday it had to be done: I went and filled the car boot with bags of horse manure from the local pony club. It was good stuff, the pile had been disturbed and the very mucky stuff at the bottom was exposed so I grabbed it. My boy helped me pull the covers off the onion bed: it was crumbly and weed free so I then covered it in manure that I will dig in when I plant the onions in a few weeks' time. Lovely. I then spread more manure over the other end of the same bed (not weed free) and covered that with the tarp. If I plant some red onions later than the rest, that will be perfect by then!
I also bought my first bag of potting mix (with extra fertiliser!!!) so I can soon start the first lot of plug plants, some summer cabbage and the first broccoli. Hopefully that will make me a bit more enthusiastic!

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