I came home from hospital last weekend, my body is tired and sore but getting a little stronger every day. I ended up needing more surgery than expected which has set my recovery back with one thing or another but I am getting there, slowly. I miss spending time with the chickens and of course the day-to-day activities in the garden smallholding, family are mucking in and doing what’s needed. I long for the day I can join in rather than watch from the window but I’m not to lift anything heavier than a cup of tea for at least 6 weeks. Meh.
I guess I can cope with the tea bit.
After going through our seed stash last month we’ve ordered what we need for the new growing year with some new varieties to try, the rest will be our own saved seed. We will buy our seed potatoes very soon and set them out to chit in egg boxes.
We like to sow our tomatoes and chillies early, harvesting can begin as early as June/July depending on varieties grown. Chillies need constant heat to aid germinate so we’re using a seedling heat mat at the moment to help. We’ve never used anything like this before when germinating seeds such as chillies and peppers, we usually get decent germination results by using the warmest spots in the house but it can take up to a month to occur due to temperatures dipping at night. It’s a bit of a trial so we’ll let you know how the heat mat performs in terms of germination rate/time, and if we like it enough to recommend we’ll do a little blog post. Rich set everything up for sowing our seeds to avoid me lifting anything, all I had to do is pop the seeds in. It felt so good to be involved and gave me the lift I needed.
It’s official, gardening is therapy!
The glorious sunny weather over the past few days really helped to warm the soil, I took full advantage by sowing more radish and the first of the beets (boltardy) covering the rows with a tunnel cloche which will help to keep the soil warm. I’m trying a different variety of radish called ‘Bright Lights’ (colour mix) alongside the usual varieties that I like, it will be interesting to see the different colours produced. I have been busy building a few more raised beds for the vegetable garden and taken my first harvest of rhubarb.
So, what else has been happening in the garden smallholding this month? Well, I planted Charlotte potatoes, raspberry canes and strawbs raised from runners, I’ve also been sowing broad beans, peas, mange tout, red cabbage, brussels sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli as well as annuals and perennials to add a splash of colour, encouraging beneficial insects to the veg garden plots. Speaking of wildlife, a pair of blue tits are currently setting up home in one of our bird boxes which is very exciting to watch, another pair have decided to use the eaves of our house.
The greenhouse that I have saved long and hard for is currently being installed, I can’t wait to get inside it later and start sowing. I feel like a big kid!
It’s amazing how a sunny day sowing seeds can lift your spirit. I have been feeling very low since losing Lizzie on Saturday so I dragged myself outside armed with seed packets yesterday and got sowing.
I planted up a bed with a few rows of Nantes and Thompson & Morgan Purple Haze carrots, (first time of growing the purple type so I’m looking forward to pulling these) Gladiator parsnips, swede and Solist beets. I have left a large area for the Musselburgh leek seedlings, they are growing well and nearly the width of a pencil so they can go into their final position towards end of the month.
Swede are a first for me too, I’m trying to plan the winter and early spring season a little better this year, rather than being left with empty beds once November sets in. I also sowed some sweetcorn (rather late for me) and some purple sprouting broccoli which I will hopefully be picking next March – if I toughen up with the butterflies!
Last year was my first experience of growing courgette, I raised just a few plants and got a decent yield from them. This year I intend to grow more, dedicating one of my large vegetable beds just for courgette. They do need quite a bit of room, cramming them in too close will make it difficult to harvest them.
When sowing large seed vegetables such as courgette, squash or pumpkin it is best to sow the seed on its side (as above) to prevent the seed from rotting off, sowing the seed this way increases the chance of germination. I have just starting sowing mine in small individual pots and have placed them on a warm sunny window. Once the risk of frost has passed I will plant the seedlings out into their final position.
I might try squash this year seeing as I received a freebie packet of seeds!
I love sowing seeds and waiting for them to germinate, be it vegetable or flowers it doesn’t matter, I find the waiting equally as rewarding. The sign of life within the soil, a little green seedling looking for the light. I’ve had a bash at sowing sweet corn, all the seeds germinated and the young seedlings are looking nice and healthy so far. I cannot wait to plant these out once the danger of frost is over. The height, the flowers, the crop that these seedlings hopefully will bring is very exciting to say the least. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Sweet corn is wind pollinated, planting in blocks rather than rows will increase the chances of successful pollination.
Other sowings this week have been tomatoes, courgettes and chillies, now cooking away in the propagator. Our chillies did reasonably well last year, although they refused to redden until brought inside. Sprouts and cauliflower are doing well in the outside mini greenhouse. Runner beans are next on the list for sowing as well as peas, beets, carrots and parsnips.
So far I have resisted buying in vegetable seedlings whilst browsing around mums local (and very reasonable) nursery. Who knows, it could all go boobies up and I may need to rush back there after all.