Monday, 28 March 2011

Time To Plant Out

Last year was the first year that I've grown shallots. Even though they were planted out late they gave me a good crop, so this year I want to make sure that I do everything right and maybe I'll get an even better crop. I've gone for Sante which are supposed to have a good flavour. Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day of the year, 21st of December, and harvested on the longest day of the year, 21st of June, but as the ground was frozen solid at that time, and for quite a while after, I started my shallots in pots in the greenhouse. They have put out some good strong roots and are starting to shoot so I will plant them out at the allotment within the next week.

The everbearing strawberries - Flamenco which I had delivered from Thompson and Morgan earlier in the year are not doing so well. I ordered twelve plants, and potted them up as soon as they arrived in to plantpots which have been kept in the greenhouse ever since. Out of the dozen plants, only seven are showing signs of life. I've emailed Thompson and Morgan and had a speedy reply saying they will replace the dead plants in October. This isn't the first time that plants bought from Thompson and Morgan have died, however, they have always been quick to replace anything I'm not happy with. It's a shame I won't get the replacements until October though, I was looking forward to a bumper harvest this year.

I've been reading of bumblebee sightings on many blogs recently. I was feeling quite left out having not seen any yet this year, but on my way home from taking Archie for a walk I heard a buzzing noise and there was my first sighting of the year. I saw my second butterfly of the year last week, another Red Admiral, and I'm continuing to see many ladybirds. I'm sure this gorgeous weather we're experiencing has something to do with everything waking up from their winter slumber.


  1. I'm completely confused with shallots, onion and garlic, especially the latter. Can I still put garlic in or is it better to wait now till autumn? I've seen a few bumblebees and quite a few ladybirds too - I hope the weather won't turn chilly and put them off coming out and about. On another matter, have you ever grown salsify? I bought some seeds from lidl for 39p - it seemed rude not to. Now need to google to see how it's done.

  2. Its great to see everything springing back to life. xxx

  3. I have never grown shallots but is something I am considering for next year so I will keep an eye on your progress with them!!

    I have seen lots of bumblebees and butterflies recently admirals seem to be quite prolific this year!

  4. I wish you luck with the shallots. I have tried them twice, but they only produced bulbs about as big as garlic cloves - very disappointing. I must have done something wrong.

  5. I'm attempting to grow onions from seed - so far they are really rubbish and spindly so I think I will not do this again and use sets! But I shall leave them in the bed and see if they pick up.

  6. Our shallots were planted in pots in the greenhouse too and will soon be transplanted - as for bumblebees I seem to be spending lots of time rescuing them from inside the greenhouse.

    Our strawberries came from Marshalls and all including Flamenco are growing well - just something else to be transplanted. It's a shame about yours. We had the same problem last year with our early raspberries (not from T & M) and as you say it's good to have them replaced but disappointing to have to wait a year!

  7. I completely forgot shallots last winter (remembered the onions and garlic) so only got ours in the ground at the weekend, fingers crossed they catch up!
    Oh, and I saw our first bumblebee at the weekend, seemed quite taken with my knee for some reason lol

  8. My 3rd year on shallots and they normally do well although this year not many are sprouting as yet. Time will tell!

  9. I don't grow shallots!
    Lucky you seeing a Red Admiral, I saw a white butterfly yesterdy which I'm guessing was a female Brimstone. It's amazing at how many ladybirds have been about already! Flighty xx

  10. Hi Jo
    Interesting to hear about the shallots - didnt know about the traditional timings. Yours look healthy!
    We still have some in the garden from when we moved in last summer - we have left them as they looked tiny and pathetic but now they seem larger and healthier so maybe will come to something after all albeit late!
    Shame about the strawberries.
    Have been busy sowing seeds in the greenhouse this weekend - reading back over your posst I think I will need to bring both the peppers and the tomatoes indoors to a warm windowsill.
    Thanks for your comment on my post!
    Gill xx

  11. I had exactly the same problem with Flamenco from T&M - and yes I was promptly refunded but I think I will go elsewhere next time :-( Good luck with the shallots - I shall try to work some in to my planning for next year, but didn't expect to have space to grow them this year and planned accordingly. I like the idea of using pots for them though, winter weather is so variable it just seems to make sense.

  12. I don't grow garlic as we don't tend to use it much, Projectforty. As I understand it though, it should encounter frost to help the cloves to split, otherwise you will end up with one large bulb. There may still be time if you get it planted straight away. I've never grown salsify either, it's hard enough getting my lot to eat the veggies they've heard of without the ones they haven't.

    It doesn't take long for everything to put on plenty of growth at this time of year, Diane. The weather we've had recently has certainly helped.

    The thing I like about shallots is that you get back lots from planting just one, Tanya. They're not like onions where you just get back a larger version of the one you planted. I don't remember seeing butterflies this early before, but I might be wrong.

    It's disappointing when something fails, Mark, especially a second time. Mine were planted late last year but they still did quite well considering.

    Many people prefer to grow onions from seed, Ruth. I'm sure they'll bulk out, leeks are very spindly to begin with but they really take off once they've been planted out.

    I'm glad I wasn't relying on the everbearers for the majority of my strawberries this year, Sue. I would have been really annoyed if I was. I've had quite a few disappointments with Thompson and Morgan in the past, but they always replace anything I've had cause to complain about.

    I'm sure your shallots will be fine, Paul. Mine went out very late last year and they still did ok. Now just admit that the reason the bumblebee was so taken with your knee is that you were wearing flowery shorts.

    It's still early yet, Damo. There's plenty of time for your shallots to start sprouting.

    Brimstones are usually seen early in the year, Flighty, so you're probably right. I don't think I've seen so many ladybirds since 1976 when there were loads of them about.

    Your peppers and tomatoes will probably prefer the warmth of a windowsill rather than the greenhouse until they get going, Gill. It looks like we're all busy sowing at the moment, it's a busy time of year.

    I know what you mean about going elsewhere, Janet. It's all very well Thompson and Morgan refunding or replacing any failures, but the reason you've ordered off them is because you want the plants, now. It's not too much of a problem for me, as thankfully I've got lots more strawberry plants, but I wouldn't have been very happy had I been relying on these plants. I think the shallots will have got off to a good start in their pots, they would have probably rotted had I planted them out at the traditional planting time.

  13. Hi Jo, all of your planting looks great and makes me want to start mine. I am a bit late this year. Spent last weekend clearing up the garden from the winter,(lots of pots), still some to do. I would love an allotment or even to be able to dig up some of ours. (we rent at the moment) Nevermind I am thinking raised beds that I've seen in the gardening catalogue have you tried those?

  14. Your shallot looks lovely, so healthy and clean looking. I spotted some bumblebees in the garden at the weekend. I enjoy them buzzing around the pink heather.

  15. My shallots have gone directly into the ground but only recently Jo and I am hoping that the birds will leave well alone. I am going to plant a few more from last year's crop in cells tomorrow. What a shame about the strawberries :( All the pretty butterflies must have drifted further north - the only one I've spotted so far was a Cabbage White!

  16. I've had a few problems with the quality of Thompson and Morgan as well - I've had to chase them for the onion sets which I ordered and paid for in November! There was a mix up with my Purple Pacific asparagus, they're now out of stock and I won't have any until the Autumn now. Next year, I'm shopping elsewhere! P.S. Seen butterflies but no ladybirds yet!

  17. Busy, busy! :)
    Our shallots are still waiting to go to the Ball :) but, they were late in last year and did very well so we're not too concerned - I'm still using last year's harvest!
    I've not seem any butterflies yet but the bees are a-buzzin' and, as you say. there are lots of ladybirds. Mo

  18. Thanks for your comments on my post Jo!
    I only learnt to crochet last year at the age of 50! My Mum, whos being crocheting for years, taught me the very basics, then I got the bug and found Attic 24 and with so much colourful creativity and brillaint tutorials I was "hooked"!
    As I rarely watch TV, the evenings are the time for me to do a little, and it is so therapeutic Im sure you'd love it!
    Go over to Lucy's Attic 24 blog, and alos "By Elizabeth Cat" and I defy you not to be inspired!!!

  19. Dear Jo, Those are healthy looking shallots! And you saw a bee, and butterflies? How lovely. P. x

  20. I've never used raised beds, Gail. There's plenty of people who do use them and have lots of success with them though. You could always put your name down for an allotment if you're unable to dig up your garden due to renting, though you might have to wait a while, most sites have waiting lists nowadays.

    Most things look nice and clean when they're grown in pots, Kelli. That's one of the reasons I grow my salad crops in containers rather than at the allotment. The shallots won't stay like that much longer, they'll be planted out as soon as I can get to the allotment now.

    Your Cabbage White may have been a Brimstone, Anna. They're one of the earliest butterflies to be seen and the females are white.

    It sounds like you've had worse problems than me with Thompson and Morgan, Caro. I don't blame you taking your business elsewhere, hope you have more luck with another company. I can't believe you haven't seen any ladybirds yet, I've never seen so many around at this time of year before.

    My shallots went in very late last year but still did ok, Mo. Most things do catch up.

    I've been reading Lucy's blog, Gill, it's so inspirational. All these blogs which are showing crochet are really whetting my appetite, I'm going to have to learn. I haven't seen By Elizabeth Cat blog before though so I shall have a look at that.

    It must still be too cold there to see any bees or butterflies, Pam. I can't believe you've still got snow, but I'm sure that spring must be on it's way now so that you can indulge in some sowing.


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