A light February flurry

…of gardening, at last!

It sure has been a quiet winter on the MBaF front. I’m a fair-season gardener for sure, and even my Gardener’s World magazines festered largely untouched some months.

But for a few hours, on a couple of recent days, the feeling of spring’s approach has begun to cajole these green fingers to flex.

Today has been one of those days, and it happened to coincide with no work and Miss MBaF at nursery. I couldn’t deny it any longer. Seeds. Were. Sown.

Hello 2016, and in Delia Smith’s immortal words: Let’s be avenue!

 

Pea Douche Provence sown. Over-wintered Nigella potted on.

 

 

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And we’re off…my 2015 plan

I really wanted roast parsnip with our dinner tonight, but I completely wimped out of the required allotment trip. The freezing winds, sleet and mud just weren’t for me today.

But weather like this is spot-on for one important task. Planning.

So, in the comfort and warmth of the living room I got the pencil, paper, ruler and books out. And this is the plan:

  • Cabbage – under-rated but such a useful veg, cooked and raw, and liked by all our family. Also, our soil seems to grow brassicas extremely well. I guess it must be on the alkaline side (they like that), though I haven’t checked (maybe I’ll get around to that this year). Planning to grow a row each of autumn and winter varieties.
  • Some kind of hardy leaf – undecided whether to grow spinach or some kind of kale. I think spinach is a bit more adaptable as an ingredient, so that might swing it.
  • Early potatoes – I haven’t decided on the variety yet but I’m after something with a the distinctive sweet flavour of a proper new potato. I grew Charlotte last year and they were tricky to cook fresh out the ground (outer disintegrated when the middle was tender) and didn’t have the flavour I’m looking for. I think older varieties like pentland javelin or sharps express might suit me better. I’m not bothering with maincrop this year. They take up a lot of space and I’m unconvinced I could tell the difference between homegrown and shop-bought once roasted or baked.
  • Carrots – I’ve been tentative about committing to carrots! But with some half-hearted effort last year I got promising results, so this year I’m planning to take the plunge with a few rows sown successionally for a long harvest. I think they could be a winner with Miss MBaF too.
  • Beetroot – roasted beetroot was a recent discovery that I’m keen to enjoy much more!
  • Lettuce – I’m really quite crap at growing lettuce. I’ll use some new varieties this year and try to motivate myself to cut and wash it.
  • Peas – love them fresh for the pod. Gotta be grown. One row got hammered by pea weavil last year (no, I’d never heard of it before either), but now I know what to look for and I have a spray to treat the young plants with if necessary.
  • French beans – we’re not keen on runners so I’m going to stick to frenchies this year. And I’m going to grow them on a straight row of supports instead of a wigwam, as the tops got too tangled to pick like that.
  • Sweetcorn – one last try. Last year was a disaster: terrible germination, no crop. I haven’t worked out how to improve the germination yet, will have to read up…or just buy young plants. The plot is very exposed, which really doesn’t help, but I’m planning to shelter them behind the beans (sorry beans!).
  • Flowers – I’ve started a little plot for cut flowers, they’ll need some shelter too I’m sure.
  • Fruit – but I’ve blogged about that plenty.

So that’s it. At some point before too long I’ll have to work out what happens after, when the first crops are lifted and I’m thinking ‘what next’? But for now, I need to start seed shopping.

chocolate tin seed storage

Spring into action

Just as a shiny new pencil case and stationery would give me a thrill before the forthcoming school year, tonight I’ve enjoyed sorting out my seed-storage before the next growing season.

Nothing fancy, but a £3 transparent plastic box with 12 homemade month dividers (tip from Gardeners’ World Mag) have replaced the jumble of packets in an old Quality Street tin.

Thing is, 90% of my packets have sowing times in March or April…I’m already having a mild panic about how I’m going to manage it. I’m thinking, no trips away, no work, and set up camp at the ‘lotty for 8 weeks!

Seed packet filing

March and April looking very busy in my new seed packet file

How does everyone organise their seeds ‘n’ stuff? Do other UK readers covet Monty Don’s gawjus seed cabinet as seen on BBC Gardener’s World….or is that just me?!