The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

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.

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 four 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.

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.

Clematis from Seed

I love growing plants from seed. The pure joy of seeing a healthy green seedling pushing through after you have sown a tiny black dead looking seed is well worth the effort. It is time consuming and fiddly but I’m not very good at sewing, knitting or crochet like most ladies but I do seem to have some success with plants.

i have been having a go with vegetable and flower seeds over the years but one plant I have never grown from seed is Clematis. This Autumn I put in a few cuttings and am looking forward to seeing the results of those but I am determined to try and raise some from seed next spring.

I have read a little but prefer to learn by trial and error. The few tips I have gathered are as follows. Clematis seeds throw down deep roots so need to be sown in gritty, sandy compost in a deep container/pot. Germination can take from six weeks to three years. Ah well we will see. Heat isn’t needed and sown seed can be left in a cold greenhouse or outside. Moisture should be maintained by covering the pot with grit and enclosing in a polythene bag. I dread to think how many seed heads I have thrown into the compost over the years, however this last year I did save a few and put them into seed modules In sandy compost. I don’t hold out much hope for those but next year I will be more prepared.

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Minus 4

Cyclamen

Another bargain from Lidl. This plant makes me smile. An amazing achievement as my heart is sad and heavy. I am trying to count my blessings but I am missing Adam so much. I need to focus on his children as we are getting nearer to Christmas and it will be so difficult for them.

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