Sunday, February 28, 2010

what to do when it's raining...again

Looking through photos of my garden from February last year, it's amazing to see the difference - all the crocuses, snowdrops and even daffodils had started to peek through and show off their gorgeous colours. Looking out into my garden today, it just looks grey and the percussion accompaniment of rain on the window ledge does nothing to improve that.
So, I have once again focused my efforts indoors - potted on the moneymaker, roma and garden pearl toms, sown some Lyon 2 leeks and tagetes (the latter to be used as companion plants for said toms in my greenhouse later in the summer) and laid out some parsnip seeds on damp kitchen towel in a propagator. Parsnip seeds are a right bugger when it comes to germination - I had very little success my first year (I think 3 parsnips finally grew from a row of about 20 sown) and then a random seed leftover in the ground germinated the following spring. This year I have a fresh packet from Kings - 500 seeds apparently - so I'm determined to get a decent crop this time around. I've heard of people having success with sowing them in loo roll tubes. This sounds ideal as parsnip and other similar vegetables don't like being transplanted - the shock or damage to their tap root finishes them off. But with the loo roll method, the root isn't exposed or disturbed at all. And being such a fan of loo roll planting (broad beans, peas and sweet peas being my past successes) I think this sounds like a great addition to my list.
This week we also signed up to attend a 'hen party' through the Omlet website - so watch this space in future months for the arrival of feathered friends!

Monday, February 15, 2010

time to germinate

So, my mammoth day of paper potting certainly paid off. Within just a few days, some of the tomatoes and peppers began to germinate in their propagators and most of the chillies were hot on their heels. The germination rate has been 100% for most of the seeds, with lower rates (60-80%) for some chillies and tomatoes which were self-saved or saved by other gardener friends. I have 5 types of tomato (covering the full range of salad, plum and cherry types), 2 sweet pepper varieties and 6 chilli varieties (2 of which were planted only last weekend, so have yet to peek through). There's no way I have space for all of the plants, so I'm already canvassing friends as to who wants what.

The Lancashire Lad purple podded peas germinated very strongly in their loo roll tubes and are now in the unheated greenhouse, swaddled in bubblewrap on the colder nights. They're already 6 or so inches high and looking quite happy. We got an absolute bumper crop of purple mange tout from these last year, so are already looking forward to a repeat of that.

Still awaiting signs of life in the Feltham First pea guttering as well as with a few celeriac (Giant Prague) seeds I sowed. The latter can take a few weeks though so I'm trying hard to be patient. The Autumn Mammoth leeks have germinated well, alongside mixed salad leaves and rocket. And with the presence of all these pots and trays in the kitchen, and no sign of the frost threat diminishing, I decided to invest in a ladder allotment on which to store everything. This will stay indoors during the winter and be moved out onto the patio as spring arrives. Makes a change from lines of seedlings along every available windowsill like last year!