Monthly Archives: February 2011

Every Minute of Every Hour “I Love a Sunflower”

In a bid for early flowers I sowed my first sunflower seeds this morning. And it reminded me of a lyric in the late 80s Tears for Fears song ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ which seemed appropriate for this time of year as we enter March and a frenzy of sowing activity. That song also included a rant against Margaret Thatcher, ‘politician granny’;by that time the gloss had well and truly come off her leadership with the Poll Tax. We’ve come full circle politically again as we do in gardening every year.

So what’s happening on the Two Chances Veg Plot at the end of February? Well on the plot I’m still harvesting leeks and parsnips with PSB eagerly anticpated. Parsnips were sown in the pipes last week and the overwintered broad beans and onions are coming on well. Tulips are starting to come through in the tubs and in the flower beds there’s crocuses, daffs and more tulips doing their thing and taking advantage of the mild spell we’ve had recently. In the greenhouse the shallots are starting to sprout and I’ve got a loads of brussel sprout seedlings pricked out into small pots.

Daffodils provided a great display last year, although later than usual. This photo was taken on 10th April, I’m hoping for blooms a couple of weeks earlier, in time for our Spring Show.

Indoors the spuds are chitting nicely and the second batch of broad beans is starting to germinate. On various windowsills a tray of lettuce (Webb’s Wonderful) needs pricking out, tomatoes are poking through and the first true leaves are showing the peppers and chillies. The onions look exactly the same as they did last week and I’ve just sown the first batch of sugar snap peas along with cabbage, early and late purple sprouting broccoli and some asparagus peas.

On the ‘to do’ list this weekend is the mix for the long carrots which I need to get into the pipes and sown. More brassicas to be sown – cauliflower and calabrese which can grow on in the greenhouse. So that’s it you’re up to speed on everything going on!!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

The Circle of Life

The circle of life was completed today on the Two Chances Veg Plot as far as my parnsips were concerned. A few are harvested every Sunday to go with the roast dinner and today was no exception. It was also sowing day for my first ever long parnsip attempt in the pipes now installed in one section of the raised bed.

The mix had been in for three days and had hopefully settled as much as it was going to. After a thorough soaking 5 Gladiator seeds were popped into the centre of each pipe, sideways on, then lightly covered, and the end of the pipe then covered with polythene to keep them a bit warmer and protected until germination. Now it’s just a waiting game as parsnip germination can be very slow. Hopefully all the seeds will come up and I’ll eventually thin down to the strongest one. Over the next few weeks I’ll sow more directly into the beds but using a station sowing method into cores of the same mix spaced every 6 inches or so. This should hopefully give me some nice, large parsnips come Autumn. Then I’ll be preparing my mix for the long and stump carrots that will go in over the next 2-3 weeks.

Elsewhere on the plot the digging is now finished. A top layer of well rotted chicken manure is hopefully drawing up the worms to work their magic and will be lightly forked in ahead of planting. The broad beans sowed in Autumn are about 4″ high and looking strong, as are the onion sets. Two PSB plants have survived, one of which is the largest I’ve ever grown, not in height as it’s only about 4′, but it’s a monster width-wise and I’m hoping it will crop heavily soon.

Inside I’ve pricked out the chilli, pepper and onion seedlings. There’s a tray of Brussel Sprouts (Bedford) germinated and tomatoes have been sown (Marmande, Gardener’s Delight, Moneymaker, Tumbling Tom Red, F1 Incas & Golden Peardrop). I’ll be sowing more brassicas this week, cauliflower, cabbage, calabrese and PSB.

So with March approaching the activity level is starting to warm up like the weather will be hopefully. There’ll be lots to do over the next few weeks with sowing reaching frenetic levels and seed trays on every available windowsill in the house. Hopefully there will be no late cold snap, March will be nice and mild, and we’ll all be off to a flyer!!

As mentioned on UKVG there’s a new on-line publication for children and schools called Grow Time which is packed full of information to get children into growing their own fruit and veg. Well worth checking out.

It’s our local Horticultural Society’s Jumble Sale on Saturday so if you’re in South Wilts why not come along and support us.

And finally there’s a Seedy Sunday event this Sunday in Downton, South Wilts. I’ll be there as I’ve got nowhere near enough seeds ;).

Mix it Up!

My first day off of the year meant I could get on with making the mix to go in the pipes. You’ll remember I’ve now got 16 black soil pipes around 4′ long buried in one of my raised beds. Half will be for growing long parsnips and the other half carrots.

To fill 8 pipes with the mix for parnsips took 25 gallons which I made in batches in the cement mixer.

I then filled the pipes a foot or so at a time and soaked the mix to make sure it was nice and moist all the way up the pipe. They’ll now be left to settle before sowing in a few days time.

And it’s Emily’s 2nd birthday today so Rach has made a chocolate hedgehog cake. So no more gardening it’s party time!

Patience is a Virtue

Regular readers will know I’m a laid back grower, but when it comes to sowing seeds I can be a little impatient. Despite sitting on my hands I can’t resist getting a few seeds on the go towards the end of January. Now it was time to prick out those seedlings and let them grow on all cosy in a south-facing windowsill.

There were half a dozen Tomato ‘Golden Peardrop’, 4 Aubergine ‘F1 Bonica’, 6 Pepper ‘Annaheim’, 4 chilli ‘Cayenne’ and some Onions ‘Globo’. They should be OK on the windowsill with the radiator below giving them some gentle heat. I resisted sowing more, just a few Lettuce ‘Webbs Wonderful’ for some early salad leaves.

One veg that I will be sowing soon are parsnips. But we haven’t finished eating last year’s crop yet. There’s about 20 left from sowings almost a year ago. They’re such a reliable veg standing in the ground all winter. I’ve not had any trouble with pests and the pigeons and caterpillars don’t like them. If it wasn’t for their long growing season they would be the perfect veg.

Best of luck if you’ve already sown some seeds. If you haven’t then you have the patience of a Saint. I’ve tried to wait and failed miserably!!

Shovel & Fork

It’s been a beautiful morning down here in South Wilts and I’ve managed to get the main task done – moving this pile of chicken manure!

A chap down the road delivered this £20 load and dropped it on the Dahlia bed. It’s great stuff, well rotted, ‘black gold’ in gardening terms. As it’s just like soil I’ve spread over all the beds, bar the one I’m growing roots in, and lightly forked in. The worms will do the rest for me. No need to dig if you don’t have to I say! And what’s left in the pile will fuel my Dahlias.

The next job was to dig up all the Jerusalem Artichokes, I had grown a 10 foot row of them planted late February last year. We’ve decided we’re not particularly fond of the taste after a couple of years of trying them out. It’s a shame as they are so easy to grow and a very productive crop. I can’t guess how many I dug up but it’s 10s of kilos of tubers. I’ll try and give some away so they are not wasted. So if you’re in the area and want some give me a shout.

And lastly the first signs of spring have returned to the garden. A beautiful little collection of crocuses are the first flowers in my snowdrop-free garden. With daffs and tulips pushing through it won’t be long now until those spring blooms come good. Hope you’re having a good weekend!

Pipes Are In!

This afternoon I got the rest of my pipes in. Regular readers will know I’m starting to dabble with growing some long carrots and parsnips. I’m going to grow these in pipes, black 4″ soil pipe that I bought in 7′ lengths and cut in half. They are buried in a raised bed and the pipes will be filled with a growing mix which will hopefully produce some lovely, long roots. I’ll also grow them direct in the main bed but rather than just sowing in the soil I’ll core out at regular spaces and fill with a compost mix to see if I can grow a better quality veg. Darren popped up to take a look and on his advice I spaced them out a bit more to allow room for the top growth.

I’ve started chitting my first and second earlies today in the cool conservatory. Lining them up in egg-boxes seems to be everyone’s preferred method and I’ll plant them out in six weeks time as long as the soil feels warm enough.

In my quest to learn more about growing veg I’ve joined the National Vegetable Society (NVS). It’s £17 a year, you get an excellent quarterly magazine, regular talks and visits run through county district associations and access to the on-line forum where members share advice and experience. The first meeting of the Hampshire DA is on Tuesday with a talk from Sherie Plumb on Runner Beans and Cauliflowers. Sherie is renowned as an expert potato grower sweeping all before her at National level, and her runners aren’t bad either. I’ll shall learn a great deal on Tuesday I’m sure.

There’s lots to do in the garden in February, for a list of jobs click here. Please add anything you can think of in the comments.

It’s our Horticultural Society Jumble Sale on Saturday 27th Feb from 2pm at Winterslow Village Hall, Middleton Rd, Winterslow, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 1PQ. All manner of jumble, bric-a-brac, books etc will be on sale to raise money for the Society. Come along if you’re in the area. For more information click here. For a map click here.

If your in the South Wilts/West Hants area look out for the ‘Seedy Sunday’ event on 27th February between 2 and 4pm at Downton Memorial Hall. A seed and plant swap plus advice on growing veg and many other topics, it looks like a good event. Free entry, refreshments and children’s activities. For more information click here.

Downton Memorial Hall
The Borough, Downton

Lastly, if you have young children, don’t forget Mr Bloom’s Nursery starts Monday on Cbeebies, 10.05am and 2.05pm. I first heard of the programme reading Dawn Issac’s Little Green Fingers blog, who was involved with it’s development. We’ll be watching!!

Ok, that’s my cup of tea finished, now back out to get the raspberry canes in. Hope you’re having a good weekend!