Archive for the ‘Seeds’ Category

Beans, berries and bloomin’ snow

Not to be deterred by a little bit of snow (well, quite a lot of snow actually), we pulled on those wellies, filled the flask with coffee and wobbled our way up the hill with the wheelbarrow to the plot. The snow was not going to deter us – especially after having spent £45 in Wilko (oh, how we love Wilko) the day before – we had stuff to do!

Snowy views from the strawberry bed

The snowy allotments

White earth

Some of us were a little optimistic (as always) in thinking they would be able to dig up parsnips for the Sunday roast dinner. Not sure what part of frozen earth and four inches of white stuff on top he was not comprehending, but that’s men for you! (Let’s face it, it was only last Sunday when, after 4 hours of trying to drill drainage holes in a barrel and getting nowhere, he realised that the drill was in reverse!! Sometimes he can be quite…challenging.) So, once realisation had filtered through to those little grey cells he finally saw the sense of shutting the door of the greenhouse from the inside, pouring a hot coffee and setting to with planting the broad beans. All quite simple you would think until reality hit again and we remembered that the bags of compost we needed to plant the beans were outside – and yes, they were frozen solid! With many cups of coffee and a lot of positive thinking (even from me), we managed to thaw enough of the compost to plant them – 96 Aquadulce are now shivering in seed trays. Which seems to be what the onions are still doing as, 4 weeks later, there’s still no sign of anything happening. They need heat.

Not letting the snow stop planting

There is, however, good news. I have now transplanted 18 chillies which are looking strong and healthy, and I’ve also planted some sweet red peppers. These are all happily sitting on a nice warm windowsill. The other good news is that, thanks to My Tiny Plot, I now have four white strawberry plants (courtesy of Wilko, £2.28 for 2 – we love Wilko – have I mentioned that already?). When I first saw these in Wilko I wasn’t that impressed – they just looked like anaemic strawberries to me. It wasn’t until I read My Tiny Plot‘s post that I realised that they had a pineapple taste. Suddenly they became more attractive and an absolute must-have. So, now they are nicely potted up waiting for the weather to improve before going into the strawberry beds.

White strawberries

All we need now is a big thaw so that the compost might actually be ready for the next planting session and those blasted onions might actually start to sprout!

The great seed packet debate

It’s been a week of seeds – what variety to buy, who to buy from, waiting for them to arrive, putting them in the correct planting month of the seed box…then planting the ones for January…then realising that February and March seem to be taking up the whole of the seed box…then realising that we probably haven’t got enough allotted earth to accommodate all of them! uh-oh.

Anyway, the sowing has started: Onions – they went in last week – Ailsa Craig and Red Baron; Chillis – also last week – Cayenne and some other multi-coloured little number; and Sweet peas – they went in today – Spencer and Eckford varieties.

Let's get this planting started

In the whole seed buying process, we’ve purchased from old and new suppliers this year – the decision being made mostly on price. This has led to receiving a variety of different types of seed packet. Now, I know most people wouldn’t worry about the packet, it’s what’s inside it that’s important, but I have issues with seed packets (as well as most other things in life). The type of seed packet makes all the difference to the planting in my opinion. So, here are my issues on some of the packets we have:

Sow Seeds (www.sowseeds.co.uk) – I like this company – I like their contemporary, simplistic style (and they have a huge selection of chillis – always a plus), however, I do have issues with the packet. Because the paper used isn’t coated in any way, it soaks up everything and soon turns into a muddy coloured illegible piece of paper. Also, the sticker used to seal the packet has the dates printed on it. This is issue number two: I have to open the packet carefully without tearing the sticker otherwise this information is lost – annoying if I want to keep some of the seeds for next year. All this said, they do get a few gold stars for their Red Baron onions seeds – they were bright green. Now they may have looked like the sort of stuff you put at the bottom of your goldfish bowl, but they were dead easy to plant.

Red Baron onion seeds

D.T. Brown (www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk) – we’ve only discovered this company this year (even though they’ve existed since 1908) and so far are very impressed – they get a big thumbs up as they don’t charge p&p for seeds, so more packets for your money! We love a bargain. Now, their packets I like – nice coated paper so they don’t get all muddy and I even got some nice plant labels thrown in as well. But, I still have an issue – they don’t tell me how many seeds I’ve got in the packet. I’m a details person – these things matter!

The other issue I have is that neither company puts a picture on the packet. I know I’d have to pay more to get that so I’m happy to forego this luxury in order to get affordable seeds…but I do like a picture, that way I can see what it’s supposed to look like instead of having to remember what the heck Moluccella laevis is – ring any bells?

Am I just being exceptionally fussy or do other allotters have the same issues?

Perfection is our goal, excellence will be tolerated. J. Yahl