Seeds for next season
I’ve been out in the garden collecting seeds that are ripe and ready to harvest. The cornflowers sown last autumn excelled themselves, flowering from late spring, and still producing flowers now, so it is well worth propagating from them. Then there’s Silene ‘Blue Angel’ which was a gift from Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter and seemingly unavailable in this country, as well as Mina lobata and the Lab Lab bean – all three have performed well and I would like to grow them again next year. I will store them in brown paper bags to dry, then clean them and put them in packets.
Silene Blue Angel
If you go to their website, www.seedsofitaly.com you can enjoy an entertaining read and also download an advance copy of their 2010 catalogue. It is guaranteed to conjure up sunny days even in the middle of winter.
Free seeds and free seed potatoes await gardeners who place orders from Mr Fothergill’s Direct new mail order catalogues. Two packets of randomly selected seeds will be sent with every household’s first order from the company’s A-Z Flower and Vegetable Seed Catalogue 2010. Anyone ordering five or more packets of seeds will also receive an informative seed sowing guide with Mr Fothergill’s compliments. Collections of eight packets of new flower seeds and eight packets of new vegetable seeds are offered at £12.95 and £14.90 respectively, each representing a saving of more than £3 on list prices. Catalogues available from Mr Fothergill’s.
Suttons supports Help for Heroes with a new Sweet Pea mix. It’s a beautiful combination of red, pale blue and dark blue shades representing the colours of the three armed forces. Available as a pack of 40 seeds or as 15 garden ready plugs, Suttons will donate £1.00 for every pack of seeds or plants sold. Brighten up your garden with these colourful, scented flowers and you’ll also be supporting Help for Heroes.
In their latest catalogue, D.T. Brown www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk have two excellent offers for allotment collections. The Ultimate Allotment Collection combines seeds, sets and potato tubers that would normally cost £75.56 when bought individually for £49.99 and the Supersize Allotment Collection for larger plots costs £79.99 instead of £110.40.
Two West & Elliott www.twowests.co.uk have a special offer to help you tidy up your garden this autumn. They have combined their telescopic expanding rake, large freestanding garden bag and Big Hands leaf grabbers for £20.75, a saving of £5.
Thompson & Morgan has a special collection of brassica seeds consisting of Calabrese (Broccoli) Belstar, Rocket Skyrocket, Kale Scarlet, Cauliflower All the Year Round, Cabbage Durham Early and Brussels Sprout Trafalgar for£5.99 (RRP £12.84).
Order via the website www.thompsonmorgan.com/beatheartdisease
Warm sunshine – at last! I spent all last weekend in the garden, revelling in the real signs of spring and finally getting on with sowing seeds. In the past I’ve often been tempted to start the whole process earlier, but now I wait until I see those pesky weeds germinating in the borders – and reckon if they think it’s time to grow, the seeds I plant will too.
While I waited I did the routine tasks that will stand me in good stead through the growing year. I washed down the benches in my greenhouse (Gabriel Ash, of course) with a powerful citrus-based cleaner, Citrox. I get it from Organic Catalog, source of many good things for the organic gardener. I have also used the Citrox to wash out pots and seed trays. Seeds are so expensive these days that I don’t want to risk any seedlings succumbing to grubby surroundings. The windows of the greenhouse and the glass of the coldframe were cleaned, ditto the heated propagator and seed tray covers. Clean surroundings and good light will help the seedlings grow strong and healthy.
I’ve also sorted the seeds into order of sowing in a lidded plastic box and spent a happily anticipatory evening writing the labels in my best handwriting – so much easier than when your hands are earth covered from seed sowing. I then paper-clipped the labels to the relevant seed packets. Final preparations consisted of moving a bag of seed compost into the greenhouse to allow it to warm up and filling a couple of watering cans with tap water (better for seeds and seedlings than butt water) and putting them to warm in the greenhouse as well.
The broad beans and sweet peas I sowed in the autumn are now outdoors waiting to be planted out, so there’s no shortage of space in the greenhouse.
Seeds sown in the greenhouse:
In gutters (so that they can be slid into position on the allotment when they are about 20cm high) – peas and mange tout – I’ve mixed tall and short varieties to crop over a long period
In large cells – more broad beans, beetroot (4 seeds to a cell)
In small cells – spring onions, Rossa lunga de Firenze (a long red onion) from Seeds of Italy)
In a large polystyrene box (I get them from the fishmonger) : baby leaf salad which has germinated in 4 days.
Seeds sown in the heated propagator on the kitchen windowsill:
In peat-free coir pellets from Garden Supply Direct: tomatoes which have also germinated. I’ve turned off the heat, but kept them covered – too much heat and they will grow weak and leggy.
More good weather is forecast this coming weekend so I will be powering ahead with the seed sowing and working in the borders.