I said I wasn’t going to grow potatoes this season because I didn’t have the space or inclination , but then I read one of those articles about the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables and potatoes are one of them… So, I bought just a small bag of Agria seed potatoes; 5 to be precise, and planted them in an old plastic compost bin in the Processing Corner. They will be in no-one’s way there. And no digging required. The leaves have grown up through the first topping of soil already.
Spring seed-sowing has been in full force here and, fortunately, most of the sowing and transplanting was done before the super crappy sickness hit us. The tomatoes and peppers led the way in late August, followed by lettuces, onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, corn, red orach (totally new to me, supposedly a more bolt-resistant substitute for spinach), parsley and basil.
We haven’t done the greenhouse yet, as I had hoped, but other projects took priority, because, as awkward as it is growing seeds in a house, I have a system that does get all our vegetable crops grown from seed.
- Phase 1: Seed trays start in the hot water cupboard and I check them frequently for germination.
- Phase 2: When some of the seedlings have popped up the trays move into the Craft Room and reside on the windowsill or my desk (not much crafting being done at the moment…) so they can get light.
- Phase 3: When they’re big enough to be pricked out (if they need to be) they go into 5cm pots or 6-cell packs, which return to the Craft Room until they’re big enough to go outside on the deck.
- Phase 4: They move outside to a sheltered-ish position on the deck.
This has worked pretty well this year, so long as I didn’t sow too many things at once. The biggest problem has been the crazy spring weather. Sometimes we’re so eager to get away from winter into the ‘warmer’ spring time that we forget how turbulent the first half of spring is. We’ve had days of hot sun that got us into t-shirts and shorts, then the next day has brought cold, rain and wind. We’ve had some howling winds. This is not ideal for seedlings on the deck, as we haven’t got enough wind blockage to the deck yet to calm down the fierce westerlies. I have to put taller things around the seedlings to try and protect them.
Here are the varieties of everything I’ve sown in trays so far:
- Amish Paste, Black From Tula, Brandywine Pink, Broad Ripple Yellow Currant (cherry) and Gardener’s Delight (large cherry).
- Tollis Sweet Red, Alma Paprika, California Wonder Golden and Cayenne Pepper.
- Lettuces & other salad leaves:
- Great Lakes, Red Salad Bowl, Rouge D’Hiver, Summer Queen and Vivian.
- Red orach.
- Onion family:
- Italian Long Keeper (brown), California Red, Pearl Drop (white cocktail) and Purplette (red cocktail).
- Leek ‘Musselburgh’.
- Broccoli ‘de Cicco’.
- Cabbage ‘Red Express’, ‘Red Rock Mountain’ (only a few seeds were left) and ‘Vertus Savoy’.
- Cauliflower ‘All The Year Round’.
- Kale ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Red Russian’.
- Country Gentleman.
- Parsley ‘Gigante Italian’ and basil ‘Sweet Genovese’.
Let’s not forget the cucurbit seeds. I do them a little differently, if you remember. I place the seeds in rows on one end of a folded, wet paper towel, then fold the other half over top of them, seal them in a labelled plastic bag and put them in the hot water cupboard to germinate. The giant pumpkins were done way early because of my seed-saving mishap, and are in 1L pots ready for planting, like now. All the other cucurbits are outside now in their little 5cm pots and not quite big enough for planting yet, which is good, as the weather’s still a little bit bonkers. Here are the cucurbits I’m growing. Sadly, Pink Banana Jumbo squash is off the list as the seeds The Little Sister saved for me didn’t germinate. I didn’t have any of my own as I didn’t get any jolly squashes from my super slow plants last season. Ah well, they’re not terribly important, and if they don’t cooperate easily, I’m not sure I want to grow them anyway.
- Atlantic Giant, Jack Be Little and Wee Bee Little.
- Butternut (seeds saved from ‘Chieftan’ but won’t be pure as it’s an F1) and Chuck’s Winter.
- Homegrown Pickles (gherkin) and Tendergreen (telegraph).
- Honeydew Green.
I had trouble getting the Tollis Sweet Red peppers to germinate in the seed tray, so I thought I’d try them out with the paper towel method. All but one of them germinated, in less than a week, then they grew beautifully after I lightly poked them down into a tray of seed raising mix. They may be a little more fiddly to handle than the bigger cucurbit seeds, but I am definitely doing them this way again next year.
We haven’t gotten to do a lot in the Vege Garden yet, other than harvesting to slowly clear the way, but some seeds have been sown in-ground: ‘Scarlet Nantes’ carrots, purple ‘Pusa Asita’ carrots, beet ‘Cardinal’ and spinach ‘Santana’. We have yet to sow Parsnip ‘Guernsey’ and beetroot ‘Cylindra’, and then the beans once it’s warmer: ‘Yard Long Red Noodle’, bush beans ‘Kidney’, ‘Borlotto Fire Tongue’ and ‘Cannelloni’, and ‘Blue Shackamaxon’, which is a new heritage one I’m trying that you can use fresh or as a dried bean similar to a black bean.
The Little Fulla’s Garden will get a tomato plant in the middle with radish ‘Halloween Mix’ and parsnips sown around the outside. At least, that was his last plan, before he swamped his winter crops with masses of pretty pansies. But the pansies in both our gardens are bringing us joy. And that’s important.