Sunday, 6 March 2016

Open season

The 2016 growing season has officially begun here - I sowed my first seeds today.

Sowing station in the conservatory
In a pleasing symmetry I've sown six varieties each of tomatoes, chillies and peppers.

Tomatoes: Tigerella and Black Sea Man, the two favourites from last year. Plus new this year: Dattelwein, Red Alert, Orkado Cordon and Black Cherry.

Chillies: Gusto Purple, the best performing chilli from last year, Cayenne, Cheyenne, Poblano, Hungarian Yellow Wax and Nemek Twilight.

Peppers: California Wonder, Alma Paprika, Padron, as last year, though hopefully it will be a better year than last year - with more heat and less aphids. Plus Astor, Gypsy and Gourmet.

A big thank you to North by North where most of these seeds came from. I haven't looked up the varieties, other than Dattelwein, so it will be a surprise to see what colour, shape and size they are!

I've also sown a lot of Leek Musselburgh (the rest of the pack is going to be sown direct into an outdoor seed bed later this month - this produced good results last year), Purple Pak Choi, Tatsoi and mixed oriental salad leaves.

The potatoes are chitting
The seed potatoes and onions sets are biding their time in the cool attic. The plan is to sow the earlies (Dunluce) in the first week of April and the main crop (Setanta) two or three weeks later. The 400 onions (Sturon, Stuttgarter, Sutton and Centurion) can hopefully go in last week of March. I've already planted out the shallots under a cloche. 

Awaiting burial
The overwintering brassicas (Cauliflower Barcelona and Spring Cabbage Caraflex) look big enough to be planted out. I'm just waiting for this frosty night to be over. The winter salad Valdor is doing well in the greenhouse. I'll leave half of them in the greenhouse and plant out the rest.

Valdor in one of the tomato containers
The veg garden is almost prepped. Jim's aerated the soil in about half of it with his new broad fork - it's well needed after all the rain. He's also dug in a lot of compost into the raised beds so these are ready to go now.
Ready for action
The main theatre of action at the moment is the bottom paddock. We've uncovered a new growing area that had been under plastic for 10 months and the soil looks good underneath (now the question is: How stony is it?). With the aid of two hard-working Glaswegian friends we've covered another 150 square metres with black plastic. This will be next year's project: four rotating beds for the large crops (potatoes, onions, brassica, legumes). This will make it much easier to keep track of where they've been growing and rotate them properly.
New growing area, with rotation beds in the background
We've also commenced a major hack-back of the bramble & weed area by the pond. The pile for the Easter bonfire is growing higher and higher. We will leave a few of the brambles in the hope that they will be producing tastier fruit than previously after this pruning. But the rest of them will have to be rooted out one by one. Who needs a gym when you've got a garden?
Hacked back brambles as far as the eye can see


  1. You are a few days ahead of us - I'm just pawing the ground now, tomorrow being the first possible sowing day...
    You are well organised with the rotating beds! Our "system" - based on haphazard recollection of the previous years - isn't half so effective.

    1. It's not easy to wait, that's for sure. The rotating beds are only for next year. This year I'll still need to remember and find spaces for everything - it's getting quite difficult for the onion and brassica families especially. I'm sure I've already planted garlic in a bed that had onions two years previously. We're about to press the button on a 20ft polytunnel - exciting.