Monday, 22 March 2010

Potting and Pottering

I was hoping to get to the allotment on Saturday but unfortunately, the rain had other ideas. Instead, I took myself off to the local nursery to buy some bedding plants. I used to grow all my bedding plants from seed, but since having the allotment and the need to be growing more vegetable plants instead of flowers, I have been buying my bedding plants as plugs and growing them on at home. A tray of 40 plugs costs £3.50, which I think is good value, so I bought some nemesia, viola, petunia and the trusty old busy lizzie, which will perform well all summer, whether in sun or shade. They are sold as very small plugs, about 1cm square, and as you can see, I have potted them on into larger cells. I will keep these indoors for about a week to settle, and then they will be moved into the greenhouse to grow on before being planted out after the risk of frost has gone.

I also started some more seeds on Saturday, including a courgette - All Green Bush and a squash - Carnival. It still may be a little early to sow these, but I have more seeds if I need them. I haven't grown squash before but I've got quite a few varieties this year and I have allocated a large bed on the allotment to them as they are a sprawling plant.

It was the first day of spring yesterday and also exactly a year since we took on the allotment. The weather improved from Saturday, in fact it was a lovely day, so we took ourselves off to the allotment. I had a lovely time pottering about, tidying up the strawberry bed, pulling up some perennial weeds and chatting to other plot holders while hubby did some serious digging. Of course, there's plenty more still to do, but we've made a start.


  1. Good Luck with the squash. We've done them every year on the allotment in the three years we've been there and the family love them. They do take up a bit of room, but the fruit store well and it's more than worth it.

  2. I grew courgette last year. I let them grow very large, so one for lunch was more than enough. And they had kept same taste just as they have when they are smaller.
    I don’t think that I will be growing them this year, as last year we grew too many of them and had them for lunch every week. I need to forget the taste in order to appreciate them again. :-)

  3. We grew yellow and green courgettes last year and this year I have 'Black Beauty' and 'Gold Rush' varieties. I love to pick them small. My allotment-partner spent yesterday digging up our rampant patch of jerusalem artichokes and I mowed the paths. Thank goodness as it's pouring now!

  4. I guess that you're really looking forward to this year!
    I don't grow squash but will be trying courgettes again, which last year got eaten by slugs. I've tidied my strawberry plants up as well!
    Weather here is very variable as it was nice, but blowy, this morning but now raining!

  5. How did you figure out it was the first day of spring?? Officially the first day of british summer time is the day after the clocks move which would then make spring a week long.....on the gardening front I don't think you have planted your seeds to early and I already have some potatoes in so I am praying for no harsh weather!!

  6. Hi Jo. Nice to meet you - thank you for visiting my site and I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

    I've just had a very informative read of your posts - I'm going to try chitting my parsnip seeds thsi year ....I only got 5 parsnips out of 5 rows last year! Huh!

    There's a bit more Yorkshire in my new post - enjoy!

  7. Great idea about the bedding plants, will have to have a nose in our local garden centre for some of them :-)

  8. I'll have to get some plug plants, my first courgette is poking its head up, still waiting for the squash to germinate.

  9. Sounds as if you had a productive weekend Jo. I too certainly grow more veggie plants from seed now than flowers. A good idea to top up with plug plants - will be looking out for some myself :)

  10. nice to hear you made it to the allotment. a whole year eh? me too (well very nearly!). i reckon we both did pretty well last year. here's to an even better one :) i need to tidy up my strawberries too. on my very long 'to do' list. i am loving getting back into the lottie & am hoping we have a good year, weather-wise. i am expecting big biceps again from lots of watering! i'm going to try to remember to put in some upturned bottles this time to water directly on the roots. hope that will be better than a sprinkling! looking forward to some lottie pics from you soon ;)

  11. Good luck with the squash Jo, I will miss the harvest Sue and I used to get from the allotment but I won't have the space this year in my raised beds, I will however continue to grow some courgettes.

    Glad to hear you got down to the allotment at the weekend Jo - sounds like a fine day and a great start.

    Jeanne x

  12. I had not thogh about buying plug plants for my flowers! doh! I shall have to pop to the garden centre for a look see!!

  13. I went with Tromboncino as I wanted a climbing courgette. I've also opted for a mini cucumber, La Diva, which took two days to germinate.

  14. Hi Jo - I also buy plug plants for bedding. So many veg seeds to grow!
    I usually make a chocolate courgette cake when the glut comes in. What an excuse to have chocolate cake!

  15. I'm hoping to be able to store some squash for over winter, Mark N. I realise that they take up quite a lot of space so I've allocated quite a large bed to them. Just how many plants I'll be able to squeeze in, I don't really know.

    I love courgette, Vrtlarica, but each plant does produce a lot of fruit. I don't mind though, as there are many grateful recipients of any surplus.

    I like my courgettes small too, Countrymummy. There's always one which grows to gigantic proportions though. I haven't grown Jerusalem artichokes before, but I'd like to give them a go.

    I am looking forward to this year, Flighty. I seem to be off to a good start, but you never know how it's going to turn out with the unpredictability of gardening. I hope your courgettes do better for you this year. We've had quite a bit of rain here this week and the ground is sodden again.

    The 21st March was always known as the first day of spring when I was at school, Tanya, however, I believe it's the Met Office who have now changed the first day of spring to the 1st March. British Summer Time came about to save fuel during the first world war. When the clocks go forward, it gives an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day, which means that lights don't have to be turned on until an hour later. I hope the weather stays fine for your spuds, I haven't got mine in yet.

    Thank you for visiting, Nutty Gnome. I would definitely have a go at chitting the parsnip seed first, five parsnips out of five rows is disappointing. Do let us know if you find the chitting method any better.

    I have found that nurseries rather than garden centres do better deals on bedding plants, Scented Sweetpeas. The garden centres seem to have them already potted on, and therefore, the prices increase. I have found that the small plug plants are the most economical.

    I've seen quite a few magazine offers for plug plants if you can't find anywhere else that does them, Damo. I don't know what their quality is like though.

    I find my veg takes priority now, Anna. I used to grow my bedding plants from seed, but it's so time consuming to be pricking them all out and then potting them on. At least this way, it still keeps the cost down, but takes the pricking out stage away.

    I think we both did well last year, Steph. I'm secretly hoping for a better year this year though. Last year seemed to be a bit of a rush, getting everything planted without having the ground prepared well enough. The upturned bottles for watering idea is good, I think I'll do that with my squash and courgettes as they're rambling plants and it's sometimes hard to see where the plant stem is.

    Thanks, Jeanne. I've got a few different varieties so that I can compare. I'm sure you'll still get a good harvest from your raised beds, and the beauty of that is that it's all on your doorstep.

    Hope you manage to find some plug plants, Libby. Failing the garden centre, there's always the ones you see offered in magazines. Some of those offers look to be good value, but you can't check the quality before you buy.

    The climbing courgettes are a good space saving option, The Idiot Gardener. I've never tried them myself so I'll be interested to see how they do. I've also got a mini cucumber - Cucino, which I thought would be good for lunch boxes. Anything to get the kids to eat more fruit and veg.

    Thanks for visiting, Vegetable Heaven. Plug plants are great for saving time, I'm glad that someone else is on my wavelength, veggies take priority. I haven't used courgettes to make a chocolate cake yet, though I've read that many people do, so I'm definitely going to have a go this year.

  16. Swillington Garden Centre Rocks!! Its great value for bedding plants...and its a true gardeners place - I'm growing their runners and dwarf green beans at the moment. Cat x

  17. I love growing pumpkins & squash. Most of them store really well and are great cut into chunks and roasted in the oven. They are really sweet so l am growing 7 different varieties this year! Does anybody know of a website where we can exchange recipes for when we get a glut of certain vegetables?

  18. I always use Swillington, Cat. I find that nurseries in general are better than garden centre's.

    Thank you for visiting, Wartimegardening. I don't know of a particular website for exchanging recipes, however, I got a book for Christmas, The Allotment Gardener's Cookbook, and that has some good recipes in it.


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