The first signs of progress are showing on the seeds I planted a few weeks ago…
Honestly I completely forgot about my poor little leeks in the greenhouse. Work has been so busy so I won’t embarrass myself with a picture of nothing.
The tomatoes first signs of progress are excellent. You can see from the first picture that there is one that is obviously ahead and one a little behind but I’m happy. I intend to build the soil up around them a little this weekend as they’re very weak looking. Since taking this photo the tomatoes have progressed massively leading me to turn off the heater on the propagator for fear that they will progress a little TOO fast (especially as I woke up to a beautiful frosty morning).
The chillies were VERY touch and go in the beginning. As I had the propagator inside I decided not to switch the heater on. After a quite a few days of absolutely nothing happening I realised the vent on the bedroom window right above my little seeds wasn’t working. All the freezing air from outside was in fact raining down on the propagator.
Armed with duct tape I sealed off the vent (don’t panic there are two, I left one open for ventilation) and plugged the heater in for an extra boost of heat and soon enough signs of life started to appear (thank god, the OH was very worried).
Since this incident I have just left the heater on until all plants are a little bigger. As mentioned above this got turned off today to ensure growth slows down a little.
The wonderful growth of these first seedling has got me looking at my supplies – which are very low at the moment. I have been looking around for some good quality, cheap pots of varying sizes for potting on. I have found quite a few that suit except for final resting pots for the above chillies and tomatoes. I’m thinking I’d like a 30cm or bigger pot for each – anyone have any ideas on where to look?
There hasn’t been a lot happening in the garden in January in terms of seed sowing. The real action starts in a few months time. But by now, a lot of the gardeners out there are starting to get a little stir crazy. Longing to be outside. So I’ve compiled a list of a few things you can start sowing now.
Early seed sowing veggies
A lot of onion varieties grown from seed can be started indoors from the end of January onwards. They can also be sown directly into their final resting place later on in the year. An alternative to sowing onions from seed is to purchase onion sets. These are small onion bulbs that are planted out to mature.
There are a few varieties of leek that you can sow indoors from now onwards. The variety I’m growing this year, Lyon, can be sown from the beginning of January! As with onions they can also be sown directly into the soil later in the year.
Not many tomatoes can be started now. Most are February/March sowing but if you look carefully you will find some. For example the Alicante variety I am growing this year can be sown indoors from January.
A lot of chilli varieties can be started from the beginning of February indoors. The particular jalapeno chillies I’m growing this year can be started in January. There are tons of different chillies to choose from ranging from sweet to fiery hot so I’d definitely recommend giving some a go.
There is always a few varieties of salad leaves that can be grown, there are even some that can be grown all year round!
What I’m planting now
I’m pleased to say I got a few hours to myself in the garden the weekend before last. I managed to get 4 leeks, 4 tomato and 2 chilli pots planted up – this might not seem like a lot but I am very limited in space. And a few things are going to be grown in succession so that they don’t go to waste, I didn’t want to go overboard.
Leeks; Lyon – I planted the leek seeds in toilet roll tubes – 1 seed per tube. These will be transplanted straight to their spot in the raised bed once they’re big enough. Being planted in toilet roll tubes makes this process a lot easier as they are biodegradable. A few small cuts into the toilet roll tube to help it decompose and pop all of it into the new hole.
Tomato; Alicante – If you’ve read previous posts you’ll know I was planning on growing gardeners delight this year. Unfortunately the seed packet only had a few seeds in it and I managed to drop them in the greenhouse…so Alicante it is! The tomato seeds got a slightly larger sturdy pot each. I’ll probably re-pot them a few times until they end up in their final home.
Chilli; Jalapeno – As I only really want one chilli plant of this variety (it’s only my OH that eats them really) I only planted up two pots. I did however put two seeds in each pot as I wasn’t completely convinced one would germinate as the seeds are a little old.
Tomato and chillies got pride of place the heated propagator in the windowsill. Leeks are fighting it out in the greenhouse for the time being. I’m not sure the leeks will be successful this way but I thought it was worth a try.
If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning then you would have seen the shocking state of my raised bed:
It really is a disgrace. Due to it’s lack of use last year I’m pretty sure my parents used it as a dumping ground for old flower compost. It’s overflowing, covered in weeds and large clumps of roots. Slightly more unpleasantly my cat seems to have adopted the area as a giant litter box – Brilliant! Since my seeds have arrived I’m looking to start sowing the first batch indoors in the next couple of weeks. I wanted the garden preparation to be done before they were ready to go outside, so I decided I should bite the bullet and tidy this mess up.
The big clear up
I wrapped up warm and gathered my supplies:
Garden waste bag
General waste bag.
In hindsight, a trip to the gym before tackling this job probably wasn’t the best idea. I pushed through and managed to get it cleared.
I worked from left to right lightly forking over small sections. Using my trusty trowel I separated the weeds and rubbish further. It was hard going and messy work (given the rain/snow the previous week) but a few hours later I was left with this:
Now that it’s clear for planting in a few months time I wanted it to stay that. Left exposed that certainly wouldn’t happen! So I devised a plan to ensure my hard work wasn’t undone. I covered the bed in layers of black bin bags (We have a recycling system here so black bin bags are no longer used for waste), I’m hoping this layer will also have the added bonus of warming the soil slightly but we’ll have to wait and see.
By the time I was finished constructing this it was getting a little late and extremely cold so it’s currently being held in place by tape and large stones. Not very attractive but it’s doing it’s job for the time being. Garden preparation success I’d say!
My seeds are here! Isn’t that a brilliant site, almost as satisfying as the first signs of growth on your seedlings…almost.
So, for those of you that are curious these are the selections I have made for this year:
Courgette – F1 Green Bush
Runner Bean – Scarlet Emperor
Broccoli – F1 Stromboli
Carrot – Early Nantes 5 and Autumn King 2 (Autumn King 2 weren’t from Suttons as I already had a pack)
Onion – Bedfordshire Champion
Leek – Lyon
Peppers – Californian Wonder
Peas – Early Onward (I haven’t purchased these yet as i’m pretty sure I can get them cheaper than they were on Suttons website)
How I choose seeds
Now to be honest there weren’t many factors in the selection process of the varieties. Once I’d considered the vegetables I wanted to grow and the vegetables I could grow in the space I had the only remaining factors for me were:
I’m an accountant, so for me cost is key. Low initial costs + large savings from the produce = one happy Becky.
2. Popularity. reliability and reviews
Of course low-cost isn’t always the best or most reliable item, so I looked for the most popular cheaper varieties followed by some research into customer and fellow garden bloggers reviews. A few, such as Autumn King 2 Carrots and Californian Wonder Peppers I have grown before with success so they made the list.
3. Harvest period
I like a long harvest period. And I don’t like to wait months for that period to begin after I’ve planted. Obviously, with some plants this is unavoidable but so far as I can that is what I look for in my varieties. As I’ve previously said my goal is to maximise good produce and lower costs, and this system works for me.
I have a few other things I’m going to grow in containers such as tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies that i already have seeds for.
This month I’ll be sowing Gardener’s Delight tomatoes, Jalapeno chillies and Lyon leeks. So what seeds have you ordered or planning to grow this year?
Planning is an essential part of all aspects of life. Without a plan how will you know your successes from your failures or whether your goals are being achieved. It also helps to know when things need to be done to. It ensures limited time is used effectively and in the case of gardening, that seeds are sown at the best time for germination.
So for the last week or so I’ve been planning my 2015 garden!
In past years I’ve had a very laid back approach to sowing my seeds i.e. I chuck a ton of seeds into the rows I’ve made and see what happens (bar a few things I start in pots inside). This year however, I’ve done a little research and have decided to give the square foot method a try.
For those of you who don’t know, the square foot method of planting is where you divide your planting area into square foot sections. You plant a certain number of plants per square depending on that plants spacing requirements. Here’s my square foot plan:
(Sorry it’s so small – please click the image to see a larger version)
I’m hoping this will really maximise my growing space. I mean I won’t be self sufficient of course, but I should have a pretty decent crop of mine, and the other half’s favourites. Along with a few new crops! That’s the idea anyway…
Step by Step
To decide on what I would grow and where I completed the following steps:
Measured my raised bed (Okay, confession – I actually did this last but I REALLY should have done it first, luckily for me my guess at the size was correct!).
Created a list of the households favourite fruit and vegetables ( I went through the most meals made and listed the vegetables to find the most used).
Researched how many plants for each of the above would fit into one of my square foot spaces (You can find this easily enough on google/Pinterest).
Drew out my area and allocated plants according to the information above (See above picture – I originally created this in excel so I could easily move things around).
Selected and ordered seeds from Suttons (The fun bit! I’ve included all of this information in a separate sheet to track expenses. It’ll also get added to my garden journal to track each variety through the year).
That’s the main bed done. I’ll be growing a few tomatoes etc. in the greenhouse but not so much planning is required as they’ll all be in pots. Now all I need to do is wait for the seeds to arrive! I’m very excited! Especially as I managed to get some brilliant looking seed tins for a just £1 each. I will go through the varieties I’ve decided on and my garden journal when my seeds arrive. I’m always interested in how others organise and plan so please comment or link to posts about your strategies.