Sunday, 30 January 2011

January Gardening

I've been busy doing "January Gardening". That is, not bestirring myself to go out into the actual garden, (brrrr!)  but flicking through seed catalogues, and thinking what I would be doing if only it wasn't so cold and mudddy out there. What a wimp I hear you say, a real gardener would be out there come what may. I bet Toby and Carol aren't sitting by the aga nursing a cup of tea. And to be fair, on the odd decent day, I do go out and flail around a bit. Today I managed a quick sprint down to the greenhouse, where I made a temporary repair to a broken pane of glass with some plastic and sellotape, which helped raise the temperature in there to something slightly  less arctic. I cleared off the propagating bench, last year's new construction, turned on the power, and put a few seeds in a pot. So a start has been made.

Most of the rest of the day has involved hunting high and low for the plastic box I keep my seeds in, and which I was beginning to think I'd thrown out by accident, which would have been disastrous, since like many gardeners I keep seeds for several years, and also save some of my own. This helps to keep costs down,- most seed packets contain many more seeds than you will use in the course of one season, and with certain  exceptions, seeds remain perfectly viable for several years. Following a suggestion on ferris' blog, I have made some trial indoor sowings, particularly those that I have some doubts about, either because they are more than two years old, or are self saved.

I started with this kind of thing, bits of damp kitchen towel, a label, and cling film to cover, and left them by the aga to see whether they would sprout

and rapidly realised that I could get through a lot more if I just numbered the seed packets
 and the bits of kitchen towel (I do have rather a lot of old half used seed packets). I won't be using the seeds as it's far too early in the year for most of them, but I will know which ones are viable and which will have to be replaced, which should save me time and effort later on.

And how is it by the way, that you can search the shed for something three times, and it's definitely not there. And then, suddenly on the fourth search - there it is. It was there all the time, and you just didn't see it. Does this happen to anyone else or is it just me? I think strange forces are at work in my shed!

In case anyone is looking for suggestions, these are the veg seeds I've done best with in recent years.

Perpetual spinach - excellent crop. Still standing in the garden now even after all the snow. I no longer bother with the summer spinach  except as baby leaf for salad. Rainbow or Rhubarb Chard is also good, but has not weathered the winter in my garden.

Kale  Redbor. This is also still providing some pickings, and has withstood the winter along with Cavolo Nero.

Garlic Music. This variety always does well for me.

Sweet Corn Lark. This is an F1 hybrid, so you can't save seed, but it's always quick to grow and crops well in my garden.

Onion Kelsae. I only did well with these because my brotherwho is a champion onion grower grows them from seed and gives me the plants. They were whoppers though.

Runner Bean Wisley Magic. Grew this for the first time last year, and will grow it again. Lovely flavour, not stringy.

Tomatoes, many and varied. It was a great year for tomatoes, all my heritage varieties did well, as well as the modern variety Sungold, which never fails and tastes lovely. If you only grow one I'd suggest this.

Failures
Broad Bean, Masterpiece Longpod, made poor plants, wouldn't bother again. Will go back to Bunyards Exhibition this year which has done well in the past for me.
Late crop sweet corn, can't remember the name, was a waste of time, I'll stick to Lark this year.
Brussels Sprouts. I never grow decent sprouts here in Wiltshire, even though I had good plants, they mostly didn't come to much. Nothing wrong with the variety, Trafalgar, it's just me.

14 comments:

  1. I could not agree more, much too cold to be out in the garden!!! I have an excuse though as my garden is in France and I only get back there at the end of March :) Diane

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  2. Ah Diane, I can only dream of those balmy summers in the Charente...

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  3. I enjoyed seeing your vegetable descriptions, we will be trying the redbor kale for the first time this year...can't wait.:)

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  4. Dear Kathy, I must confess that the description of your 'January gardening' could well apply to my entire 'winter gardening'.....apart from less emphasis on the seed sowing and more on the reading and planning!!

    Your vegetable selection sounds most exciting and I am certain that, as last year, you will have a bumper harvest to reward your efforts.

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  5. I know you said you had a lot of seed packets to try but that's not number 82 I can see there is it?

    I know just what you mean about not finding things I'm looking for and it doesn't just apply to the shed. I've been looking for a couple of weeks now for a new bottle of conditioner I bought but has myseriously disappeared.

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  6. We've actually been out in the garden this afternoon, clearing away loads of dead stuff. We are going to revamp the raised beds by the deck next weekend when we get back from Bexhill, so needed to cut everything back ready to lift.

    Treated myself to the Carol Klein Cottage Garden book this week, so will continue January Gardening tonight!

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  7. I had decided on planting nothing this year, but I know the gardening bug will bite me, when the weather gets nice again. Will do pots, if I do!

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  8. How I admire you dedicated gardeners -- I doubt I will ever be one, but hope to have some kind of garden this year with my husband around here more. We'll see.--Inger

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  9. Some winter days I'm too lazy or unmotivated to even go to the compost bin outside .. hubby is forever running this errand. Good to see you out in the greenhouse to make a repair and start some seeds. Next month I'll be getting our seeds ready for early planting in paper pots.

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  10. I'm a flower gardener, not a vegetable gardener, and, this year, I'm going to try very hard not to add any more new plants. Though, I suspect that there will be a daylily or two that will seduce me.

    You asked how I manage with all the deer in my yard. Yup, there's a reason that some people call them rats with antlers. They can be a nuisance.

    I try to compensate by having most of my gardens around the base of my house. I have found that, unless the deer are very hungry, they won't come that close.

    I also try to plant things that are deer resistant. Except, that is, for the daylilies. Those I keep sprayed with a truly noxious stuff called "Deer Off." It smells terrible if you get it on your hands, but it does keep the deer away. And, as daylilies aren't flowers that you cut, it doesn't matter if they stink.

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  11. We are expecting about 8 inches of snow in the next couple of days -- I have a few more months before I can even think of getting dirty in the garden.

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  12. Fab tip re seeds, thanks for that :-)

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  13. Enjoyed your post and yes I too have had elusive items turn up right where I've been looking for them...some little house fairy has a serious sense of humor problem...LOL!

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  14. I haven't had much luck in the spinach and tomato department. But I'll try the perpetual spinach and the sungold tomatoes. Thanks for the tip.
    As for your "little green man" in the shed - I think that's who it is - he did the same thing to me with the maple syrup in my pantry.

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