Sunday, 29 January 2012

More Veg Seeds

There were only a couple of things left to get off this year's seed list, squash and cabbage. I don't often use mail order for seeds, simply because I begrudge paying the postage, but I've heard lots of good reviews about More Veg so I decided I'd give them a go. Postage wasn't bad actually, only 95p if the order is less than £7.50, or free if your order is above this amount. They also do packets containing a smaller number of seeds, so you're not paying for seeds which you won't use. I was impressed by the speed of the delivery. My order was placed last Monday afternoon and the seeds were with me on Wednesday, you can't ask for quicker than that. The order came with a handwritten compliment slip thanking me for my order, I thought that was a nice personal touch and I shall definitely use this company again. The squash I decided on was Uchiki Kuri as I've had recommendations for this and Blue Kuri as I quite faniced a blue skinned variety. The cabbage I've gone for is Advantage F1 as it seems a good all round cabbage and very versatile, it can be sown more or less throughout the year. The seed packets came with good instructions and even hints and tips on how the vegetable can be cooked and eaten.

The Big Garden Birdwatch which is run by the RSPB has taken place this weekend, but as well as being out and about, I've had other commitments which prevented me from taking part this year. I don't think the birds will have minded though, it's been a bit quiet on the bird front in my garden this past week, perhaps they knew what was happening this weekend and were already in hiding. Let's hope they come back this week now it's all over.

The weather was supposed to be getting colder this weekend, and I thought the forecasters had got it wrong as yesterday was a gorgeous warm, sunny day, but it's turned really cold today, I do hope that snow isn't on it's way.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Buds Fit To Burst

Everywhere I look, I'm noticing buds waiting to burst open. It's just a matter of time before the trees will be fully clothed in their leaves again. I'm beginning to wonder though if the mild winter we've had so far will have any affect on the garden when spring arrives, especially if we get some hard frosts before then. It seems that plants have been tricked in to thinking that spring is here already, and they're getting ready for the season ahead, but some hard frosts could then put paid to their spring season altogether. The photo is of buds on my cherry tree, but my blueberries have buds on too, and it's only a couple of years ago that a frost wiped out that year's crop. I'm hoping that the same thing doesn't happen again.

I finally got round to sowing my onion seed - Bedfordshire Champion on Sunday. My windowsills are now in use and won't be cleared of seed trays until the sowing frenzy has subsided at the end of spring. I've sown the seed in trays with a propagator lid, but no heat. I've also sown some broad beans - Bunyards Exhibition. This is the first year that I've grown broad beans. I remember hating them when I was a child but I thought it was time that they were given a second chance, afterall, I hated runner beans and French beans too, yet they're one of my favourite vegetables now.

I'm not only noticing buds waiting to burst open at the moment. This morning was glorious, sunny, still and quite warm, so I took Archie on a long dog walk and was amazed at the number of bulbs which are pushing their way through the soil, everything from snowdrops to daffodils. I think there's going to be a riot of colour soon.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Winter Blooms

Each year, I say I'm going to plant more things in the garden which will give me some winter colour, and each year I never get round to it. It's been quite an exceptional year this year, in that many summer flowers have lasted right in to winter, and many spring flowers are already blooming, so there's been quite alot of colour around this winter. I can't remember when this primrose last stopped flowering, it's certainly flowered without a pause for the last year, though it's looking a little bedraggled at the moment.

We've got blustery winds mixed in with rain again today. I can't remember a time when the weather's been so windy for such a prolonged length of time, it scares me to death and I got little sleep again last night. I'm wishing that the weather forecasters had been right and we'd had snow instead.

I'm hoping to get the first sowing of the year done today. As I'm growing onions from seed rather than sets this year, it's time that they were sown to give them a fair chance of growing to a decent size. That will be the extent of my gardening for today, I'm not braving the winds for anything else.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Slow Growing

You may remember that I sowed some carrot seed in containers to overwinter in the greenhouse. This is the stage they're at at the moment, very small. To be honest, I forgot all about them, they've been residing outside until I suddently remembered to move them in to the greenhouse when the frost struck at the weekend. I'm hoping that when the warmer weather comes in spring, they'll begin to grow again and I'll end up with an early carrot crop.

I'm going to have a go at growing some early potatoes too. My seed potatoes are set out and chitting at the moment, but in the next couple of weeks I'm going to start a couple of tubers off in a container wrapped in fleece in the greenhouse to see if I can get an extra early harvest of potatoes. It's worth a try.

After a very mild start to winter, we had four frosts on the go from Saturday onwards. It's warmed up again today, no frost in sight, and rain is forecast for the rest of the week. One of the weather reports yesterday suggested snow in my part of the world at the weekend, though I think they've revised that prediction now, I hope so anyway.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

On A Cold And Frosty Morning

Yesterday morning, we had our first proper frost of the year, followed by the second today. We've only had a couple of very light frosts previously, which haven't really touched the ground. Hubby has been to the allotment today to fetch some veg and he managed to dig up some parnips. The top couple of inches of earth were frozen but other than that, the ground wasn't too hard. I think that winter might finally be on it's way.

I'm really pleased with my cabbages this year, though Hubby brought the last home with him from the allotment today. I'm unsure of the variety as the seed was sown in a hurry after my original seedlings were eaten by slugs, and I never got round to labelling them. I shall certainly grow more next year so that they last longer in to winter.

Hubby also brought home some purple sprouting broccoli from the allotment. It's not supposed to be ready until about February, but I started harvesting it in November. Perhaps it will slow down a little now that the frosts are here.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Year Of The Sweetcorn

I made last year The Year Of The Carrot. I'd had trouble getting carrot seed to germinate, never mind getting any carrots to the harvesting stage, so I concentrated my efforts on this vegetable with some success. I've still got some in my freezer waiting to be eaten. Before I had my allotment, I grew sweetcorn in containers in the garden and was very successful with them, but since I've tried to grow them on the allotment, I haven't had any success at all. Looking back at how well I did with my carrots last year after declaring 2011 the year of the carrot, I've decided that 2012 will be the year of the sweetcorn and I shall make an extra effort in getting them to grow. I've chosen Sweet Bounty, which is a Super-sweet, F1 variety. Now I just need to get them to grow, though I won't be sowing them just yet.

This year, I'm having a go at growing onions from seed rather than sets. Christmas Day was always the traditional time to sow onion seeds as apparently, the longer the growing season, the larger they'll be when it comes to harvesting them. I haven't sown them yet, so with this in mind I'd better get my skates on. Perhaps this weekend will see the first sowing of the year.

We've got gales here again today. I was woken up in the early hours with winds whistling round the house, and I'm sure I heard a few people's wheelie bins being blown over. It's calmed down a little since then, so I'm hoping that there's been no damage.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


I haven't looked back at my blog to find the exact dates, but I think I'm a little earlier than usual in buying my seed potatoes. One of the reasons is that I knew what I wanted to buy this year. I grew Arran Pilot, a first early variety, last year and was really pleased with them so I'd already decided that I'd grow them again this year. They boil really well, that's something which I've found a challenge with other varieties, many of them turn to mush. The colour of the flesh is lovely too, it stays really white. I've decided against growing any maincrop potatoes this year, and shall be growing my Arran Pilots in containers in the garden. I've always done really well growing my potatoes this way, and it will free some space up for other things at the allotment. Another reason for me buying them early is that because I'm growing them in containers, I'll be able to get some planted a little earlier and start the containers off in the greenhouse so that I get an early harvest.

I think I've mentioned previously that we very rarely have a roast dinner on a Sunday, preferring to have one on a Monday as well as other days during the week. Hubby popped down to the allotment today to harvest some veggies for the week and came home with a cabbage, some parsnips, which are incredibly straight for a change, and some leeks. There's also more purple sprouting broccoli nearly ready for harvesting as well as some cavolo nero and curly kale. I'm really pleased with the harvests which the allotment has given us this winter. We've still got veggies in the freezer waiting to be used up too.

We've had some terrible weather here over the past week, high winds as well as driving rain and hail. I was worried about what we might find at the allotment when we ventured down there, but Hubby reports that everything but the brassica netting was intact. He found the netting from over the brassicas a couple of plots down, but has managed to retrieve it and it doesn't look damaged, so we've done well. I know other people haven't fared so well in the gales so my thoughts are with them. Let's hope we've seen the back of the storms now.
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