It all started the other Saturday afternoon, we were in a shop in Forest Hill at the end of queue of people scrambling to buy some fresh fruit and veg. The woman in front of us was knocked back as she was trying to buy more than the regulation “Three potatoes per person” as stated on the hastily written felt-tipped sign on the wall. A thought came into our heads, what’s it going to be like in the next few months when it comes to buying fruit & veg? Will there be enough to go around and if so will they be affordable?
Apart from some onions and garlic which are overwintering, some packs of seeds left over from last year plus some from a recent ebay purchase we decided to see what else we could get, so another trip to Shannon’s was in order. We want to give a big shout to everyone there for their help, they’ve been great! When we were there they were well busy with everyone having the same idea as us to get seeds and plants in before the lockdown. They still had a good bit of stock left, so we bought a couple of big bags of compost, a large bag of seed spuds and a couple of packets of cut and come again lettuce. We know it’s early in the season and yes we’re taking a chance with the frost but the weeks will fly by and it’ll be summer before you know it, so we’ve started sowing now.
We’re working from home at the moment so we can now spend an extra hour daily (1-2pm) in the garden. As you can’t go out to get anything (and most places where you could are closed anyway) we’re utilising what we have stored away like the palettes we were given years ago now in use as raised beds and plastic cloches, window frames and the upside down terrarium thrown out for the binmen as frost protection. The latest thing is a roll of black material that was bought to put down before our decking was laid. It’s now in use as some sort of weed suppressant, frost protector come soil warmer for the early seed spuds that we put in. All we did was weigh it down with stones on top of the soil and cut an X in the material with an old bread knife and popped the spuds in. We put some soil on top of the hole that the spud will eventually grow through as extra protection. It’s a case of whatever we got, we’re going to use!
And it’s only been a month that we sowed those cut and come again lettuces we got free with the Kitchen Garden Magazine (post here) on the back windowsill and they’re well on the way to start eating! The tomatoes and pepper seedlings are growing too. The sooner you sow the sooner they’ll be ready to eat but remember to protect against those frosts!
Found in WH Smiths in Holborn today, the February issue of Kitchen Garden Magazine with 10 packs of FREE seeds! We know the packs you usually get with magazines are probably not as packed to the gills as the packets are down your local garden centre but these ain’t pretty bad! Some super stuff too: Tomato, Parsley, Radish, Leek, Parsnip, Cabbage, Beetroot, Lettuce, Carrot and Peppers. A bargain and an ‘arf!
Okay, so something got to it before we did (pesky squirrels!) and it is looking a bit bruised but the excellent beefsteak Thompson & Morgan trial tomato is a winner. This specimen is next to a 50 pence piece and weighs 500 grams, that’s half a kilogram! You would be mad not to try these next year. The plant required minimum fuss, some support, regular water and a weekly comfrey feed. What a tom!
Oh my lord! The Thompson and Morgan seed trial tomatoes are as large as a medium sized eating apple in some cases and they are getting riper by the day. We’ve done the beef/beefsteakvariety possibly only once before but with the results on the three plants we’ve got we’ll certainly be doing some more. It was just a case of regular watering and a comfrey feed once a week if we remembered, nowt else. And look at the results!
Don’t think buying in tomato plants is in any way cheating. Earlier this year we sowed a few tomato seeds that failed miserably so we bought a couple of varieties from Shannon’s. The cherry ones (above) have done exceptionally well and they’re still going strong as we didn’t pinch out the tops. Big thanks to Shannon’s, we’ll be doing the same next year.
Monday afternoon was so nice we went out in the garden and tidied up one of the scrappy beds and then planted some garlic cloves to overwinter. It’s worth making the most of the weather at the moment as in a months or so’s time it may be dreadful. Here’s the before and after:
Thanks very much to Vic Godard for getting in touch and picking this week’s Greenhouse Classic. It’s a great number with a gardening theme called “And roses and roses” by Astrud Gilberto. Short, sweet and on a floribunda tip!
Also a big thanks to G. (Mrs Godard) for sending a few words and some pics from their garden.“It’s been a funny year weather wise, the early heat and sun meant many annuals and perennials flowered early and have now gone to seed, whereas the dismal August means some, like the Mirabilis Jalapas (aka four o’clock flower) are only now coming into their own.The bumper tomato yield is still ongoing and it looks like there will be enough beans to freeze and last throughout the winter, and it’s the first year we’ve seen pink flowers on the beans.I planted some old gladioli bulbs that Vic’s dad Harry found all dried up and papery in a drawer and surprisingly as you can see they all took!” Mrs Godard
If you remember from last years post, Vic’s dad Harry grows everything from seed; vegetables, annuals and even palms, how great is that! Thanks to Vic, G and Harry too!
It’s short notice, but this year’s Happy Seeds Festival/Tomato Planting Extravaganza takes place tomorrow, Saturday 16 May from 11am – 6pm at St James’s, New Cross Gate London SE14 6AD (next to Goldsmiths University and St James Hatcham Primary School)and it’s FREE!
The event will feature 90 varieties of tomato plants (90, how mad is that?) alongside 50 varieties of potted herbs and loads of seeds for sale. There’s lots of activities like making planting boxes, music, workshops on seed paper making, cooking, food, a beekeeping demonstration, local honey for sale and a fund raising book stall.