Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Monthly Archive: April 2009

Herb Rosemary

rosemaryI am making another attempt at growing the herb Rosemary. I have put the last of my seeds in a seven inch pot of moist compost and covered it with cling film. I actually bought a plant earlier this Spring and have managed to lose it already so am hoping to replace it and get a few more plants as well

This herb’s powerful fragrance goes well with lamb and chicken, as well as tomato soup, stews and fresh cooked peas. Sow the seeds from late winter to early summer in seed compost. Do not cover the seed with compost. Make sure that the compost is moist but not wet and seal in a polythene bag until after germination which usually takes 12-40 days at 16C

Sweetcorn Swift

I have sown 24 chitted seeds of Sweetcorn Swift today to grow on a little before planting out on the corn bed later at the end of May or early June. They were chitted by laying them on damp kitchen paper with another layer on top, sealed in a plastic sandwich box and left in the airing cupboard for two days. They emerged looking like little devils with two horn like shoots making it difficult to decide which way up to plant them. This was the first variety of sweetcorn bred with a very thin skin on the kernels that greatly improved the eating qualities. It is well adapted to UK growing conditions and cobs are juicy, sweet and full of  flavour. I have put the box back into the airing cupboard with the last of the baby corn seeds in to chit. Update on 11th May; young plants are now in their permanent bed on plot 8.

Cabbage Frosty, Kilaxy and Greyhound

Eight seeds each in moist compost in modules covered with a plastic lid and placed on the computer box for a little warmth. As soon as they show their heads they will go outside to grow on in cooler conditions. Cabbage Kilaxy is an F1 Hybrid. These seeds were sent to me free by John Harrison with a copy of his book.

cabbage Kilaxy

Has shown a very high resistance to clubroot in trials and produced an excellent crop.It can be grown at closer spacing and has dense uniform heads of good colour with tender leaves and sweet flavour. The seeds that were in a brown envelope marked Frosty the Cabbage were given to me by Debs, our Sean’s girl, but the only brassica I can find information about is a Kale called Frosty, so I can only assume that that is what they are. Time will tell.

Kale Frosty

Winter vegetables don’t come any hardier than Frosty! It produces plenty of tasty greens even in the harshest of winters. The leaves are delicious steamed and served with a knob of butter and freshly ground pepper. 

Cabbage Greyhound is a tasty pointed cabbage, the seeds of which I bought in our first year at the allotment so they need using up. This early summer pointed cabbage can be successionally sown to give delicious green hearts for many weeks. A reliable performer with a great taste.

Tip – An important point to remember when growing cabbage is that transplanting is necessary. Planting out seedlings from pots or seed beds encourages a stronger root system to be established in their permanent bed.

Swiss Chard – Bright Lights

swiss chardI have sown a tray of Swiss Chard today. Mostly Bright Lights, the colourful mix, with a couple of the green ones thrown in. I have grown them before and have learned by my previous mistakes. Leave plenty of space in between when you put them outside as the final plant is quite large and stays in the ground for a long time. They form a deep taproot and don’t transplant too well. One large plant is enough really as you can keep on cutting what you want and it will keep growing. A bit like Rhubarb. It does not originate from Switzerland but is a Mediterranean plant first discovered by a Swiss man. It is a member of the beet group and is used like Spinach. The leaves can be harvested young for use in salads or left to grow larger for cooking. The main attraction of this variety are the stems that grow in colours from dark red to orange.

Cauliflower Snowball

Six seeds of the Cauliflower Snowball went into a root trainer today and will be germinated in cool conditions. I had sown the seeds and was desperately short of an elastic band to secure the plastic root trainer. I had the great idea of looking outside for a couple of those red ones the postman is always dropping in the street. One of my neighbours was taking her daughter to school and I saw them looking over at me scouring the floor so I explained to them what I was up to. Imagine my surprise when a few minutes later the door bell rang and there was little Amelia with just what I needed saying, “I found it for you.” What a sweetheart!

Cauliflower is a cool-season crop it thrives in temperatures between 14°C-20°C. Time the planting of cauliflower so the crop does not mature in hot weather as hot weather will stunt heads. For an Autumn crop sow seed in early to mid-summer. Plant fast-maturing cauliflower varieties in spring or Autumn. Any variety that requires more than 80 days to mature should be planted for Autumn harvest. Purple varieties are both heat and cold tolerant.

cauliflower snowball

Snowball is a heritage variety from the l800’s with compact growth of medium size pure white heads, mild flavour, excellent keeper and suitable cooked, raw or frozen. Sow early Spring Harvest Autumn.

A good link

Tip – Apply a foliar feed during Summer. Cauliflower plants respond very well to this as more nutrients are absorbed than by feeding at the roots

Broccoli Romanesco


Today I sowed six seeds of the Broccoli Romanesco. I have tried them before but only managed to get one to mature. Matures in around 85 Days; late Autumn/early Winter. Romanesco has a taste and texture exceeding the finest broccoli and to really appreciate the flavour it should be boiled or stir fried and served with melted butter. Sow seeds in a well raked, firm seed bed in late spring,½” deep and keep moist. Sowing can also be made under glass at this time. Transplant the seedlings 18″ apart when they have made 2-3 true leaves. For best results grow in a rich, fertile soil and water regularly. Calabrese and Broccoli contain many healthy antioxidants. They are high in Vitamin A and C and are a good source of iron. information from Thompson & Morgan.