Monday, February 28, 2011


Perfume of spring

Driving to work this morning I noticed that many of the trees along the ring road were in a bloom of white flowers. This is a definite sign that spring is almost upon us! Despite temperatures that are still chilly, the days bring many bright sunny periods, to cheer us up after all the winter gloom.
Yesterday was a productive day down the allotment. I spotted the garlic shoots finally coming up, but I planted another 10 cloves nevertheless, for some fresh summer garlic, even if it stores not so well as the overwintered variety I find. I also got in my 500g of echalotes, only the long variety this year, hopefully I will harvest several kilos like last year. I am still working my way through the 2010 harvest of onions and echalotes! Planted too were 250g of Stuttgarter brown onions, I will do the Jaune Paille des Vertus and the red ones later in March.
I tentatively started the spuds, putting in several Ratte that were left over from last year and the first of the Belle de Fontenay earlies. I will keep planting spuds from now till end of March.
And I even managed to get in a couple of rows of Kelvedon Wonder early peas, netting them from marauding birds!

The winter garden is finished, I pulled out the last sprouts and the broccoli, which had rewarded me with a last flush of shoots - I will definitely do some early this year, in April, to try and get some broccoli going most of the year. It takes up less space than other brassicas. I pulled up the remaining leeks, which are already chopped in the freezer!
And as for the spring garden - the rhubarb is growing, the baby artichokes have taken well, in the last weeks of wetter weather, and the overwintered spring Durham cabbages are growing too. Hopefully in a couple of weeks we will have fresh baby cabbages!
I now need to reconstruct my seed beds which have fallen apart slightly over winter! and get sowing with beetroots, salad greens, and spring onions.
And at home, the first aubergine shoot has come up in the pots, now I need the rest to get moving. This week the tomato seeds will be sown!

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Monday, February 14, 2011


Bought - spuds and onions

OK, for 28 euros, I have my spuds and onions and shallots sorted. I didn't really get what I wanted:
I had to make do with:
Belle de Fontenay as first earlies,
Rosabelle as mid-season (actually they seem to be equivalent to Rosevals).
Desirée as lates,

So lots of red-skinned spuds this year!

And as usual, the Jermor long shallots, which I grow every year - I even replanted a few of last year's of these to see if they do OK.
Also Vigamor shallots which are also a long variety.
And for onions, no surprises, brown Stuttgarter, and the most squat Jaune Paille des Vertus, both performed brilliantly last year.
And some reds, think they are Red Brunswick.

Yesterday it rained and i had a fearful migraine so they will have to wait another week. I plant shallots, then onions, then red onions, trying to have them all in by mid-March. The Belle de Fontenay will probably go in the 28 Feb and 7 March.

I also started the first seeds!
Aubergines: Black Beauty, Halflong Violet and Red Egg (red fruits!)
Sweet peppers: Robertina and some saved pepper seeds from last year.
Leeks - De Carentan, as last year - I will do a seed bed of those too, which worked pretty well last year...
Now I just have to stop the cat eating the labels :-(

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Seed ordering time again

Yes yes time to scour the net. But I am back to Alan Romans again, and this year who kindly sent me a 10% discount that I then forgot to use... oh well, maybe I will need something else as the season wears on!
SO what will I be growing?
From Alan Romans:
Aubergine 'Red Egg' - the aubergines are actually red instead of black! A novelty!
Beetroot 'Cheltenham Greentop' - excellent flavour
Brussels Sprout 'Bedford Darkmar' - they looked good but we'll see if they produce good sprouts!
Carrot 'Early Nantes 2 ' - yes I am a glutton for punishment.
Courgette 'Black Beauty' - maybe the courgettes won't get sick this year.
Cucumber Burpless Tasty - first time with cukes!
French Climbing Bean 'Cobra' - my favourites
Peas - Early Onward and Kelvedon Wonder
Tomato 'Gardener's Delight' - they are awfully messy but the fruit is wonderful
Tomato - Roma - not tried this variety before but I do love plum tomatoes.

From VegSeeds:
Dwarf French Bean Safari - such a bargain! I couldn't resist.
Cucumber Burpless Tasty Green - oh bugger I ordered them twice! Oh well, a little advance on next year then!
Carrot Autumn King 2
Spinach Medania and Giant Winter - I enjoyed growing spinach last year and hopefully this year if it is not so dry, I will get some again.
Aubergine Rosa Bianca - white aubergines! A test.
Pea Alderman - Tall ones! Must remember to grow them up some trellissing!
Parsnip White Gem - they grew well this year and taste great.
Pepper Sweet Spanish Mixed
Squash Summer Sunbeam - love pattypan squash! drool
Squash Winter Uchiki Kuri - love these and have never grown them before,
Squash Winter Turk's Turban - weird shaped ones just to scare the neighbours ;-)

I will also be raiding Lidl seeds for more tomatoes, basil, yellow wax beans and probably flowers for companion planting.
Now I am soooo looking forward to planting it all!!!

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Monday, February 07, 2011


Winter starts to lose its grip

The new year doesn't really start in January at least not in the garden. In February, new shoots start to appear on many plants: the rhubarb has shown its face and new shoots have come on the artichokes.
So yesterday was an excellent moment to prune the raspberry canes before the buds grow, to divide and plant out rhubarb crowns (hope I did it properly! I just stuck the spade into the clump and planted the bits that came away!) which is what I also did with my artichoke that is a bit tired. Now of course I have little artichokes in several places - I might have to give some away or there won't be room for anything else!
Last day for Brussel sprouts, I had a magic crop this year, and now they have been ripped out, poor sods. Also dug up the last parsnips (excellent flavour, White Gem. must get more, except Alan Romans have none left :-( ) and snipped out some baby rocket leaves. Delicious.
Have started planting shallots. I am a bit concerned about the garlic - I can only see one sprouting so far. Maybe I will plant some more now to be on the safe side. They were planted in December during a moment of respite from the bitter cold. I hope they were not frozen. maybe they are just taking time to root....
I also did some tidying up yesterday - put manure and shredded paper around the fruit bushes, spread the manure a little more, cleared off the paths and pulled out all the dead stems of flowers etc. I also pruned the roses, better late than never.
So little by little it is getting ready for a new year of cropping. Now I just have to wait for the first bursts of spring that mean it's time to really get stuck in.

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