Sunday, 29 March 2009

Right on cue

Last year our parsnips were superb. They were big, though a bit stumpy, tasty and not at all woody. We grew them by chitting the seeds on damp paper before planting the ones that sprouted into fibre pots. Once the plants were big enough these pots were then planted with their bases cut off to let the root grow on into the soil. All of this is because parsnips are hard to germinate and don't like having their roots disturbed. Planting plants out rather than sowing seed gives them a better start and avoids the disturbance from thinning. This process worked well so we are repeating it, albeit with some changes: We stated a few weeks later, we're planting the chitted seeds into cardboard tubes rather than fibre pots and they will go into the ground, tube and all, a bit quicker. The changes might help to produce less stumpy roots because there should be less root disturbance.

Last year the chitting process took about eight days and, eight days after starting, roots have appeared on half a dozen seeds. I wasn't too sure about how long it would take because we're using a different variety this year. The chitted and tubed tubers will go straight to the greenhouse.

The strong winds have died down and today the sun is shining down from a clear blue sky. The air is still cool but the forecast is for that to warm up too. Jean is sowing beetroot and tomato seeds. The beetroot, parsnips, sweet peas and some teasels for our garden will go up to the greenhouse to bring them on. We have had so little rain over the past month that the ground is dry and hard on the surface, so a day of heavy, warm rain would be welcome.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

More seeds

I've taken a look at this blog for this time last year and we are starting things a little later than last year. We intended to do this to give some stuff a better start and so things got less of a shock when they went out. Today thirty sweet peas were sown in pots today, some for home but some for the allotment. We started the chitting the parsnip seeds on wet paper again. It worked well last year, so we will try it again. It is a different variety this year: White Gem, last year we had Patriot. We have a huge number of seeds in the packet which probably means we will get very few to germinate. Our spinach is sprouting well, so it will go up to the greenhouse shortly. The weather forecast is for a colder spell next week but also for some rain which we badly need.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Beans out

So the beans are out. The forecast frost didn't happen. The ground was already dug so the broad beans went out into two nice rows. If these do well they will be the only ones we plant this year, last year we had far too many beans.

Yesterday I wanted to take more photos, but the battery on my camera let me down, so today I include a photo of the rhubarb for no reason other than I like it.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


A really lovely day drew us up to the allotment. Rob was there tidying up and Gary had been up with Rob's Rotavator, so his plot looks ready to go. The broad beans in the greenhouse are really ready to plant out, but there is a frost forecast so we'll leave them another day or two.

We dug over the plots for broad beans and where we want to plant some spinach. I moved a few garlic plants that were going to get trampled. The newly planted garlic has also appeared, so we should be fully vampire-proof this year.

The rhubarb is bursting out, though one of Rob's rhubarb plants is much further on than ours. Last year I covered some of the rhubarb to try to force it, but it didn't seem to make much difference, so this year I left it alone. We tidied up and weeded the strawberry beds, where I found a spiny plant that looks like a new gooseberry plant. I planted it near the gooseberries and I'll see what is grows into. The gooseberries and blackcurrants are bursting into leaf. We weeded the asparagus bed, but no signs of life there yet.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Potting leeks

The first batch of 60 leeks have been potted. After a few days to settle down we'll take them up to the allotment greenhouse, which is very cosy at the moment.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Jean sowed our first spinach seeds of the year this morning one seed to a pot in fifteen pots. When they have been planted out we are going to try hard to pick them as young leaves to get the best flavour. Once the leaves are more than about 5cm long they start to get tough stems and the flavour goes down. We'll sow more seeds as these get used.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Gate on the move

The new greenhouse is very good. The door opens out onto a small path running round to the tap and the shed door. When the ground is wet and claggy it is nice to get stay off the ground so the path is handy, but it didn't reach the gate. So rather than laying miles of paving, I moved one of the gates to open next to the path. The ground was soft enough to move fence and gate posts easily so a chunk of fence was moved up to cover the old gateway.

The fence is only there to keep the rabbits out and at the moment there's not enough leafy vegetables growing to tempt them, but soon there might be. We have about thirty garlic plants showing now with two rows of winter onions still growing strongly. Broad beans in the green house are doing well with the first set of leaves just beginning to open out.