My seed order came yesterday from Thompson and Morgan, today I will date the packets, put them in month of sowing in my box of seed, then start to sow those that need to be sown today, I will list them either at the end of the day or tomorrow so you know what we are doing.
On the 12/03/13 I planted Broad Bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’these seeds where from T&M, I also planted the same day Sweet Peas, ‘Charlies Angle’, ‘Julie Ann’ and ‘Mixed Spencer’, these seed I got last July from Eagle Sweet Peas at the Hampton Court Show. I planted them in plug trays and put them under glass in a cold frame, they did not move so I moved them into Mrs Nextdoor’s glasshouse, the Broad Beans started to come up on Friday and are looking good, only one Sweet Pea has come up so far, I think now that we have seen a change in the weather down here in the South East they are all get going, well I really hope they do. We need something for the visitors to see when they come to Great Dixter.
Yesterday I started to lift the Artichokes to take slips from them, these are the growing points just below ground level, the whole plant is lifted, a knife is used to take the slips off, we then pot them up (these ones will be sold in the nursery), taking half the leafs off as we go, and putting then under glass to get them going, they need the heat, it is still a bit cold out there. We have four rows of Artichokes and each year two rows are lifted and split, compost is added to the area where the new rows will be planted (last year I did not get around to it). Offsets planted in April should start to fruit by July that year, if the weather is on there side.We grow two; A.’Gros Vert De Laon” and A.’Gros Camus de Bretagne’. I really think they are worth the space, Artichokes are so good to eat, looked after well they will give you fruit from late May till November, mine need a lot more care and this year they are going to get it.
So far seven rows of seed have been planted, I wanted to tell you what they are;
Beetroot ‘Boltardy’, Moles Seed
Spinach ‘F1 Boeing, Moles Seed
Florence Fennel ‘Zefa Fino’, Moles Seed
Onion ‘Lilia’, Thompson and Morgan
Spring Onion ‘Apache’, Thompson and Morgan
Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’, Thompson and Morgan
Parsnip ‘Gladiator’, Thompson and Morgan
Beetroot ‘Detroit’, Moles Seed
Lettuce ‘All Year Round”, Moles
All these where planted on the 08/04/2013, I have not seen any signs of life from them yet, not sure how well the Florence Fennel is going to do planted out so early from seed. I planted the Onions and Spring Onions together with one third of a row each, I still have the Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’ going from last summer, it kept going through the winter, I will plant a row of this in late summer for winter eating.
I have all my vegetable seed in a wine box that is kept in the house, I try to write the date that I get the seed on the packet when I get it, and try and keep them in order of when I will sow the seed (you should note, I use the word try), and then move them into the area at the front of the box when the seed is planted for the year, I know where to go back to for things like lettuce which get planted through the season. Between this system and the notebook most seed makes it into the ground and any seed left over I use the next year or so. I also clean out the box in winter and see what I need to order for the following season.
Well I got what I wanted, rain first thing (6.1mm) and then a fine afternoon, I think the seeds we planted yesterday are going to be very happy, and the weather is mild. The sweet peas that were planted last week have also started to move so with luck you are going to start to see more than just brown in the photos I post.
I have got what I wanted, this is the view from my bedroom window, I woke and opened the curtains in my bedroom to the sight of rain falling, planting the seven rows of seed yesterday was a great thing to do, now let them grow, it would be nice to see some sun in the afternoon.
The vegetable garden is at the highest point on the site, this does work very well because of the sun and light the area gets. This area also works very well because of the hedges around the garden, we have Yew hedges around the High Garden and rough hedges round the other area, we call this other area the Vegetable Garden, the wind is broken before it gets to the vegetables, with both of these hedges. The smaller area is in the High Garden, we have the top right hand corner for vegetables, the larger part of the vegetable garden is below the old apple orchard which is now a prairie. Both these areas have had one hundred years of compost added to the soil which gives me a very good soil to work with, we still winter dig the area with compost from our meadows which is given three years to break down before it is added to the soil. Crop rotation is what I use to design the vegetable garden, the potatoes and the brassicas need to be grown in different soil from the year before, so the first thing I do is work out where I had them last year and then the rest of the planting follows on from that. I have also found that the top right hard part of the High Garden gets any sun we get all year round so I start in this corner, the Fruit Cage stays colder longer because it does not get the winter sun so is planted last.
I have the same notebook (a pocket moleskine) as I had last year for recording what seeds I have sown, I find this to be a very useful system, it helps me to remember what seeds I have sown in pots and placed in the frames or glasshouse, I then remember to prick them out into plugs for the garden. I date, and write where we got the seeds from, I also note what I plant straight into the garden in this notebook, it is useful as an aid for looking back to see when and what I planted in the past.
The big question this year seems to be. When should we sow our seed? They tell us that the weather is going to stay cold for the month of April, maybe longer…. Our problem is glasshouse space, there is never enough. We are still over wintering plants and now need the space for seedlings, these will be the core of our summer planting. I have the answer…..Mrs Nextdoor’s glasshouse, it is closer to the vegetable garden, Mrs Nextdoor does not use all of it, I have things like my sweet peas and broad beans in there now, once they get going I will move them into her cold frames and then out into the garden. The offer I have made to her is that I will give her a few of the plants that I produce, of course this is not a problem as I always grow too much, of which a lot is sold at the front door. So that is the answer to the problem of glasshouse space, be nice to someone who has extra space.