Sunday, 17 February 2008

Sunny days & Freezing nights 17.02.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat - my blog guide to Growing Your Own Veg in Raised beds.

What a week of weather we've had, gloriously sunny spring days, and arctic-like freezing nights. Last night we dropped down to an earth freezing -4Celsius, which seemingly was just a precursor to tonight's forecast of -6Celsius. Check out my Met Office link to get an up to date forecast for where you are ?

Progress has been made despite the best efforts of the weather:
My seeds planted recently are all springing into life in my propogator, with this one hosting Onions, Leeks, Tomato's, and Basil.
I am quite astonished that the toms are doing so well, after all my conservatory is unheated.
I tend to uncover the seedlings during the day and then replace the clear lid when its dark, thus maximising the amount of light that gets to the young plants. If you don't do this, you find that the seedlings become "leggy", and tend not to pot on very well.
I could do with some advice on the onions, as I've not grown them from seed before ? Any ideas folks ? Drop me a line to:

This second tray is home to my chilli's and sweet peppers.
The latter started to show just this morning, whereas I expected the "Hot" chilli's to take longer to germinate. Its quite exciting to see such good growth, as last year I had only one chilli plant germinate; which although still growing well, is only just producing it's second fruit!
Maybe I'll be able to line these up and get a better crop? It would also be nice to give Chilli plants as presents, as various members of the family are quite partial to their hot flavour.

Seeds potato's are all now lined up for chitting - a process that enables to grow strong starter shoots prior to planting.
Monty Don of BBC Gardeners world fame conducted trials last year on the benefits of chitting spuds, and with the RHS concluded that there was no real benefit in doing this. I found this hard to believe, and having done the same last year and got fantastic results, I'm now doing the same again.
The real advantage to me is that you can remove the spindly shoots, so that the strong remain. You must take care when planting though, ensuring none of the shoots get damaged.

Once again, I've started my loo roll tube collection. These make for fantastic seed pots, that when required, can be planted straight into their growing position without damaging the tender young roots growing inside. I used these very successfully last year, specifically with Runner Beans, Parsnips, Broad Beans etc, and the beauty is not only are they free, but they will also rot down naturally in the soil over a period of time. I am always trying to recycle on the plot, and this is a great example and a success too. You will see me using these throughout the growing season, wonder how many I'll use ?

Still coming to terms with how CHEAP this is !
Thought I'd share the pic to remind you all! I will use a lot of this over the next few months. Generally I rake it into the topsoil, as I have adopted the no dig approach on the plot.

My latest acquisition, a couple of small bags of onion sets. I'm growing these as well as onion from seed. I'm guessing that the sets will provide a better yield, but I guess I have to try growing from seed, Or I'll never know !
I got these from my favourite shop "Ebay" for just a couple of quid including the postage. I generated the funds to buy them by selling my spare runner bean seeds!
Tom & Barbara would have been pleased !!!

My final pic this week is of my empty plot !
Well, its almost empty. The Broad Beans planted before christmas are going great, and now I'm chomping at the bit to get going.
Yeah I know, good things come to those who wait. It would be a waste of time planting too soon, as weak plants will result leading to poor crops. Better to spend the time indoors raising plants from seed, and generally getting ready to grow.
All in all, its been a good week, and I really cant wait for this frosty spell to pass. I hope your preperations are coming along well, and thank you to all my readers, both regulars and newcomers, your traffic to my site now has me ranked at Number 29 in the Top 100 Gardening Sites.
Not only that, but Southend United notched up another win yesterday, putting us 8th in the league, well done Shrimpers, keep up the good work.

Take care all and have a good week. I look forward to seeing you all next week !



Matron said...

Yes, I use loo rolls too, they make great root trainers. My seed potatoes haven't arrived yet but I have the eggboxes ready!

Paul and Melanie said...

Great blog and nice to see things are growing well. I think I'll be sowing my first seeds this week although god knows where I'm going to put them as my windows are full of chitting potatos!

Southend Utd? Ah well, guess not everyone's lucky enough to be a Cheltenham Town fan... ;)