The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Monthly Archive: February 2010

Second Batch of Brassicas

I have sown another tray of brassicas today with a mix of new and old seeds. Another row of Cauliflower All The Year Round; Broccoli Autumn Calabrese; Cabbage Derby Day; Cabbage Brigadier; Cabbage Greyhound and Cabbage Offenham ll. They should show in 7-10 days.

Cabbage Brigadier F1 Hybrid (Autumn/Winter). Ideal to grow a quality giant cabbage, producing heads up to 14lbs. Delicious eaten raw, with a high sugar and Vitamin C content, but also excellent when cooked, Stands well in good condition, with Fusarium.

 

Cabbage Greyhound Reliable and early maturing, Greyhound produces compact plants with very few wasted outer leaves. The tasty, pointed hearts can be cropped from mid summer well into autumn. Alan Romans.

Cucumber Marketmore and Lemon

I have sown four each of Cucumber Marketmore and Lemon. They are previous years seeds so it will be interesting to see what results I get with germination. I have put the pots into a polythene bag and stood them on the computer box for a little heat. Marketmore is a basic cucumber like we can buy in the supermarket but Lemon is a little different. Both are well worth growing. The Lemon is a little sweeter than most and is quite hardy so can be grown out on the plot once all threats of frost have passed.

Garden Pea – Hurst Green Shaft

I have never grown these peas before but have read such good reports about them I decided to give them a go. They are a second early so I shall put them in during March. They should be ready to harvest in 13-14 weeks.

Pod length is about 4″ with 9-11 peas in a pod. Pea Hurst Green Shaft is a super heavy-yielding variety. Only 28″-30″ tall, with all the pods close to the top. A second early, wrinkle seeded variety, which matures in 100 days from sowing. Pea Hurst Green Shaft resists downy mildew and fusarium wilt. And the taste! Has to be eaten to be believed. info and picture from Thompson &Morgan from whom I bought the seeds.

New Seed

Having decided not to spend too much this year and to use both saved seeds and seeds purchased in previous seasons I have already noticed that the new seed does indeed perform better than old in most things, not just with parsnips, which I already knew about. I sowed two varieties of Brussells Sprouts and although the new packet of seed, Evesham Special, germinated as expected, and are already moved into deeper pots, the Noisette, which were older seeds have only managed three very weedy seedlings so far. The same has happened with the Tomatoes which are all previous seasons seed. My previous enthusiasm for using up the whole packet of seed by keeping them over until the following season has waned somewhat. I think that maybe this doesn’t apply to tougher seeds like runner beans, squash and pumpkins but time will tell.

The cheap seeds, purchased from Netto 19p,Lidl 29p, Aldi 39p and Alan Romans 50p have always performed well for me but they only stock limited varieties so it looks as though if I want anything a bit different I may have to pay the price from the bigger seed suppliers. I hate waste though so I know I won’t be able to throw away the rest of the seeds in the packet after I have used what I need so my seed box will probably stay full.

Apple – Elstar Malus Domestica

Today I bought an apple tree from Aldi. It is an Elstar, an offspring of the Golden Delicious.  I bought this cultivar once before and it died. However the original cost £25.99 and this one only cost £3.99 so there is not so much to risk. Oh well I was just as disappointed when this tree died but it was a bit easier because of the low cost.

Elstar is a crunchy apple. The flesh is lemon-white. In most Golden Delicious offspring it is the other parent which provides the essential counter-balance to offset the sweet blandness of Golden Delicious. In the case of Elstar this is Ingrid Marie, a variety which originates from Denmark. Although not a widely-known apple, it lends a bit of sharpness to the mix – inherited from its own parent, Cox’s Orange Pippin. The result is Elstar, which is probably one of the best Golden Delicious offspring.

Spring Cleaning

On Sunday we at last had some time to call our own and went to visit the plots at about ten o clock. We were expecting a short visit halted by sleet after reading the weather forecast. However, it turned out to be a four hour clean up with sunshine. We have decided to give up our second plot and concentrate on plot eight from now on so we have until April to get plot eighteen tidy and move all the bits and pieces that we want to keep over to plot eight.I started by cleaning out the shed as the communal skip had arrived and I wanted to make good use of it. After that I helped Rob with clearing plot eighteen. We bought over the ‘Dalek’ composters and our seat cum storage box, a couple of wire frames and a load of slabs. The only job left is to dismantle the tunnel which was flattened by the snow and bring the tubes and netting over. I shall also dig up a few strawberry plants and a couple of black currant bushes. After that we can concentrate on making plot eight look good for this season.

Because we had the slabs from plot eighteen we could get rid of the strips of carpet that we had been using for paths and throw them in the skip. Rob has already made a good start in laying new paths and plot eight is already looking better. We have bought some metal reinforcing rods to fix the fruit tunnel and the brassica tunnel so that will be the next job to do. Rob has laid a slab path down the middle of the inside of the brassica tunnel and that should make working in there much easier. I dug over both the side beds in there and limed the soil.

Germination Update

Four out of six of the Tomato seedlings are through so I have taken the polythene cover off and stood the pots on the window ledge for light. Quite a few of the leeks are showing already and the brassica tray has about seven tiny green shoots. Looks like the season starts here. The Sweetpeas haven’t shown any signs of life yet so I may put in a few more and sow some early peas for eating at the same time too.

Pictures of My Hens and Ducks