The sun sessions

That yellow thing in the sky came out again today so had ten minutes poking about the garden. It was a bit nippy but I still sowed some lettuce in the cold frame (It’s early I know but it was “leaf” day after 7am in the  biodynamic calendar so what have you got to lose, a few seeds?) and knocked off some weeds with the hoe. The big question is, will it soon be spring or have we still got the rest of the real winter to come? Who knows with this global warming lark.

if it don't fit don't force it

The forced rhubarb is starting to get on it’s way. All you do is stick a bucket (or a bucket filled with straw) over the top to keep it dark and warm, to fool the plant it’s spring and there you go  (I used the bucket the christmas tree was in.) In a few weeks it’ll be crumble and custard time I reckon.

And the overwintered garlic is looking good in their OCD uniform rows (below.) There’s overwintered onions in as well and I can’t help pulling up the immature ones and using as spring onions as they weren’t expensive at all to buy as seed onions so I got a big old bag’s worth.

clove er

Late last year I had a couple of cabbage looking plants that I had forgotten what they were, until some mates of mine said “it could be purple sprouting broccoli as that takes ages to mature” and they were right. Shouldn’t be too long before it’s ready to pick, but it’s taken a while though. I must remember to pick them before they fully flower or that’s it!

Purple rain, purple rain

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And finally…

I finally got out yesterday and tidied up the family veg plot at the bottom of the garden, runner bean canes were cleaned up and stored away and the bottoms of the runner bean plants were left in the ground as they’ll add extra nitrogen to the soil. It was the first time for a while that I’d got out for a couple of hours in the garden with the fork. I was in bed until midday today, must have been the body going into a state of shock after that bit of hard work!

On a hex tipThe wormery has been covered with sacking over a layer of fleece for the winter (if it gets bad I will move it into the garage as those brandling worms hate the cold!) I also used the old fish tank I found in the street a few months ago as a cloche to overwinter some Peas and Garlic. It could have done with having a few holes drilled into it for ventilation but I still hadn’t got around to it. Also sowed the same combo under the old trusty window frame found last year in a cold frame stylee. God know what will happen what with all the cold weather that we’re supposed to be having next week!

(Cabbage) Patches, I’m depending on you son

cabbage in the patchBig up to Paul W (the man who originally prompted me to write this blog!) who popped over yesterday and took a shine to this cabbage and even took a photo! To me this is an overwintered cabbage which didn’t go to seed like the other ones and I have just left it going for no particular reason. Any recipes for cabbage leaves like this and as this is nearly a year on, will those big leaves be bitter? Any ideas?

Big, massive and broad

Here you go, the first harvest of the year, broad beans that were put in last autumn. It’s something you can do with some vegetables (cabbages, garlic, onions, perpetual spinach to name but a few) but look for varieties for “overwintering” as it’s called. Can’t remember the variety these were but I know they cost us less than a couple of quid off ebay.

Through the bean cane

The beans germinated and put on a little bit of growth before the cold weather set in and then remained dormant until the spring. A couple of the plants did suffer a severe frost but seemed to carry on growing. One good thing with the beans being ready so early in the year is we’ve only a little bit of aphid attack on them which makes a change. I heard a tip on twitter that said pinch out the top of the plants when they get to a certain height as that helps repel aphids too. The pods can even be slung on the compost heap too! Great stuff!

beans in strainerToday we’ll be enjoying the above beans with our dinner, big up cheap gardening!

A winter world of veg*

The garden is approaching the end of the growing season so now’s the time to put those hardy veg in to “overwinter” over the cold months and utilise your space to the max. The plants will make a start now, go dormant over the winter period then perk up in the spring, giving yourself a head start on the veg front next year. Vegetables like spring cabbage, kale, spinach, broad beans, peas, even lettuce (look out for a hardy variety like “artic king” at the garden centre) can be put in now for overwintering.

Last week I sowed some broad beans, onions and garlic. You can grow onions from seed but the most convenient way is to grow from “sets”, mini onions (think pickled onions in their skins!) that’ll save you time and effort. I got a bag of about 50/60 for £3, that’s well enough for yourself with loads left over to pass onto a gardening mate or two.

I prepared the area as per, taking out weeds, stones etc and made two rows about 10″ apart. I then sowed each set 5″ apart and buried them with about a quarter of an inch of soil above the top of the set to stop the birds and squirrels from having them. Don’t use force pushing them in or you will damage the sets. All you have to do then is watch for weeds and damage due to wildlife trying to rob them off you (you could even put a net over them on their early days if you’re keen!) and wait. Do remember to stick in some sort of plant label as you might forget. I do it all the time, that’s why I have a squash plant growing up some canes like a cucumber at the moment!

I’ve also started off some garlic. These are from a bulb not unlike the ones you use in cooking. Just carefully break it up and put the cloves in the ground instead of the pot. You don’t want to use any old one from the supermarket as you don’t know what variety it is and if it’s suited to you local climate so get especially for the plot from your garden centre. With planting just carefully put them in (flat end down) with about a quarter of an inch covering over the top so the birds can’t see them and space them about six inches apart. If you’re doing them in rows keep those about 10″ apart. There you go, how easy was that?

* An Englebert Humperdinck song no less!