Please skip past my vegetable ramblings if you can’t (or don’t want to) keep up, and find ‘Seed Planting for the Poor’ further down.
I’ve been planning my vegetable garden for this year since January first, but i still can’t decide between permaculture (mixing in veg and flowers, letting them grow as naturally as possible) and allotment-style (in rows) veg growing. I believe permaculture benefits plants by hiding certain veg from insect predators…but I don’t know if it will be harder to manage and get good crops that way. I think i’ll do a bit of both, but we’ll see what develops when it starts getting warmer!
My ‘must grow this year’ vegetables:
- Cavolo nero (black tuscan kale) – best tasting cabbage leaf for steaming/braising, and i think i can get my man to eat it. I think.
- Pumpkin – mine’s a blue-skinned heritage variety called Hubbard Blue, and i’d really like to grow some decent sized fruit.
- Broad beans – varieties The Sutton and Karmazyn last year i only managed to harvest enough for one bean salad (pathetic).
- Salad leaves and herbs – lettuce, mizuna, land cress, regular garden herbs, wild garlic and salad burnett – more on that later.
- Carrots – never grown them by myself. I’ve got Early Nantes which you harvest quite small.
- Potatoes – a great Christmas present from my parents, can’t wait to recieve them! Will be growing in ‘pots’.
- Beetroot – of course. Can’t live without it. I got reliable variety Boltardy…guess what it’s bred for.
- Courgettes – also a must. Heritage variety Early Yellow Straightneck.
- Blackcurrants!!!!!! (and Raspberries) – thanks Mum!
Other things I’m growing:
- Flowers for my wedding in the summer (Yes! Wedding!) – Nigella, Sweet Peas…and i need to find some Nicotiana seed.
- Spinach, Chard, Climbing beans – because they’re easy and can freeze.
- Tomatoes – first time and i won’t lie, i’m dead scared about it! Planting outside an Italian Plum Tomato variety. (You’re planting an italian tomato outside on the scottish border? Yes, I am.)
- Have I forgotten anything?
And now to the tutorial/recycling ideas!
This is something i remember seeing on Gardeners’ World years ago…mum will probably remember who’s idea it was. It’s been copied since but i don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it!
Empty toilet roll tubes, Blue Peter style, squshed upright in a watertight tray/box/tin/anything. Because i couldn’t fill the tray yet i put some newspaper in to hold them up. Fill the tubes with compost and gently press each one with your fingers. Then follow your seed packet to see how deep to plant the seeds (ok i just chuck them in). The one thing i remember about planting seeds is for any type of bean seed – put them in the soil on their side. Eg: hold the bean so it makes a happy smile, then hold the top of the smile and press into the soil that way up. If you put them in flat, water tends to sit on top of the seed and makes it go mouldy.
Chuck a bit more compost on and put by a bright window, then water them a gently and wait. Here I planted some of my Broad Beans, and three of my precious, precious Pumpkin seeds. Please germinate!
And another idea: Tomato (and other seeds that like more heat) proagators.
I used big 2 litre plastic bottles, and removed the labels. Then with scissors cut the bottle in half. Chuck away the lid. In the top half you want to cut up from the cut edge about 3 inches. This lets the top half slip more easily onto the bottom half. Now, a sensible thing to do would be to make 2 or 3 holes in the bottom for water drainage with scissors or a skewer. But i didn’t have another tray to put them on so i’m not going to…i’ll just have to be careful not to OVERWATER them.
The bottom half is your pot, fill 2 thirds with compost, plant seeds, and cover with a bit more compost. Water and put on the lids. Keep an eye on the bottles – if they are covered in condensation, take the lid off and let it breathe for a few hours. The temperature should be nice and warm for seeds to germinate if left in a sunny place.
Now we wait.