The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Sunflower Giant Yellow Single

I have received 300 seeds from Seekay at a cost of 99p. I have washed eleven containers, recycled plastic pint beer glasses, I plan to put holes for drainage and fill with sandy compost to sow the Sunflower seeds. Having done a bit of reading it seems that March is the earliest time to sow. Although most advice says sow where they are to grow this would be difficult as the garden is in the process of being rearranged this year. Sunflowers grow a long tap root which prefers not to be disturbed, however, the seedlings are targeted by slugs so it may be safer growing on in pots until stronger.

SeeKay Sunflower Giant Yellow Single 300 seeds - Annual

 

 

Cleome – American Spider Flower

Cleome Violet Queen will be the next seeds to go into some damp compost. These half hardy annuals were £1.99 for 200 from Higgledy who recommend sowing between January and March indoors. Best sown on the surface of moist compost and can take up to four weeks to germinate. I shall sow just twenty of them tomorrow 19th January. It seems that these plants can grow as high as six feet so I shall have to be careful where I put them. Eye catching and strongly scented, the deep violet flowers and palm like leaves of this beautiful plant will add a tropical look to the late summer garden. so say the people at Crocus.com.

Cleome spinosa Violet Queen is a sumptuous purple, which looks good with almost anything, particularly good with verbenas, dahlias and sunflowers. Cleomes are an elegant, very long lasting annual,  flowering longer than all the other half-hardies. Sow early. The only downside to Cleomes are their thorns. Information from the Sarah Raven site.

 

Sweet Pea Beaujolais

This morning the seeds from Higgledy arrived with a very clear explanation for the delay in delivery. They were well packed and look of good quality. First to sow will be ten Sweet Pea Beaujolais They are sitting in a little warm water to soak ready for sowing tomorrow. I received twenty seeds at a cost of £1.99 so more expensive than Seekay. I plan to sow the next ten in March and compare the results.

Along with a hand written notes Higgledy’s Benjamin enclosed a free packet of Phacelia.This plant is completely new to me but I am assured that it attracts bees and hoverflies to the garden so I shall give it a try.

phacelia-tanacetifolia-heritage-farm-600x600

 

Overwintering Cabbage

The brassicas sown in August last year are looking good despite the recent cold weather. They are growing in the garden as we ran out of space at the allotment. I have lost track of the variety as I had sown about 100 seeds into modules but would guess at Durham Early.

Sweet Pea Mammoth

Every garden should have Sweet Peas somewhere, they are lovely to look at, smell amazing, last a long time if they are dead headed and, when you’re ready, will provide seeds for next season.

I have grown Sweet Peas often over the years with mixed success. The best results that I can remember were from seeds bought from Alan Romans, chitted and started off at home then planted around an obelisk at the allotment. This year I have bought seeds from Seekay and from Higgledy so it will be interesting to see which seeds perform best. Both are Mammoth Mixed. The Seekay seeds were delivered quickly but the Higgledy haven’t arrived yet.  My plan is to grow some at home in the garden and some at the allotment.

Today, Saturday 14th January 2017, I am swishing ten seeds in a little warm water to soften the outer shell. I shall sow them tomorrow or Monday. Five each to a small pot of compost, It’s a start. Update:- It’s been a rainy grey Sunday but the ten Sweet Pea seeds are in their pots and ten more are soaking. Another ten seeds went into the compost today, Monday 16th January. update 20th January The first pot sown 15th Jan are pushing through today. 5 days to germinate as promised by Seekay seeds.

Growing sweet peas couldn’t be easier. You can sow them into small pots of compost in Autumn and overwinter the young plants in a cold frame or cool greenhouse.  Alternatively you can wait until Spring and start planting your sweet peas in pots, or sow directly into the ground.

Before you sow them soak in tepid water to rehydrate them. It helps them get off to a quicker start but it isn’t essential as they will still germinate well in moist compost. If you soak them overnight you will notice that they swell up and turn a lovely chestnut colour. Use a good quality compost and sow several sweet pea seeds to a pot. Sow them about 1cm deep, cover the seed with compost and water them well. If sowing Sweet Pea seed seems like too much effort you could always buy sweet pea plug plants. Place them in a bright position and when the shoots appear keep an eye out for slugs as they love young sweet pea shoots. Information from Sue Sanderson at T&M.

Seeds of Hope

Eleven packets of seed arrived today and they look very healthy so I am optimistic about growing some productive plants. I have used a company that is new to me. It is called Seekay and is trading on Amazon. Cost and delivery has been good. Seeds arrived packed well and in individual sealed polythene packets. I will report on success and failure but will allow for grower error.

Tomato Ildie – I grew this tomato back in the day. It is mentioned on the old blog posts. I used up the last of my old seeds last year so have bought new for the coming season. I received 20 seeds at a cost of 65p.

Sweetcorn F1 Wagtail – This is a new variety for me. It is listed as super sweet and at 99p for 32 seeds the price is sweet too.

Beetroot Boltardy –  An old favourite at 55p for 100 seeds.


Climbing French Bean Blue Lake – 90 seeds for 65p. When I was able to go back to the allotment at the end of last season I was given a bag full of this prolific bean by our plot neighbour. I was very impressed and determined to grow them myself this year. Imagine my surprise when reading back over old blog posts to see that I had actually grown these before. This demonstrates to me how ones mind can be completely taken over when it is coping with a personal tragedy. New priorities move in and dominate our thinking.

Parsnip Guernsey – 100 seeds for 55p. Another new variety to me. The Guernsey variety was the most popular parsnip of the 19th century. Introduced prior to the 1850’s, this variety is medium-long, and has thick shoulders and smooth white skin. The flesh gets even sweeter after a good frost in autumn. It’s not as long as the Hollow Crown and has a sweet and delicate flavour.  Information from Baker Creek.

The rest of my new seeds are flowers. Here’s hoping.

Lemon Tree

I have a lemon tree in the garden that I think I bought from Crocus.com many years ago. It used to be in a pot in the porch but at some point I transplanted it into the ground. This year I plan to move it again into a new large pot and am busy reading up about the best soil mix needed.

I have read that Lemon trees can be grown in pots outdoors in summer and brought inside for the winter. The fragrant flowers appear all year round apparently but are especially abundant in late winter. The fruit ripens up to twelve months later so they often flower and fruit at the same time. Although I have had this plant for many years I know very little about how to care for it. Although I have read conflicting information I think my best bet is to wait until Spring to re-pot this lemon tree. Pot and compost are waiting so here’s to Spring.

I bought a pack of lemons from the supermarket last week and just for fun I have put ten collected seeds in some damp kitchen towel and sealed them into a plastic freezer box to try and get them to sprout. Following advice from Lee of Project Diaries on YouTube I have peeled away the outer husk from the seed. It’s Thursday 12th January so I will be recording the germination time. Update 18th January one of the seeds has germinated. It is seven days since I set them. I have put the sprouted lemon seed into a 3″ pot of compost today 19th January.

Carnations

Just before Christmas my friend Tallulah gave me a lovely bunch of flowers and the Carnations still look fresh today. I bought myself some yellow ones from Lidl on Sunday. It’s been a long time since I bought myself any flowers. I was very pleased to see that three of the stems had shoots still attached and I have taken them off to try and root them.

SeeKay Carnation - Hardy Border Mix - 300 seeds - Perennial

Friday 20th January 2017 – Carnation Hardy Border Mix – seeds have been sown on moist compost. in a container with drainage holes and enclosed in a polythene bag to retain moisture and heat. Seeds from Seekay 300 for 99p.

Choose a container with drainage holes in it filling the container within an inch or two from the top with potting soil. Sprinkle the seeds across the top of the soil and cover them lightly. Water until the soil is moist and then wrap the container in a clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect. The beginnings of your carnation garden plants should poke through the soil in two to three days. Move the seedlings to their own pots once they have two to three leaves and transplant them outdoors once they reach a height of 4 to 5 inches and your area is free of frost risk.

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/dianthus/growing-casrnations.htm