Under starter’s orders

We popped into Shannon’s yesterday morning for some seed potatoes and more seed compost. It was great even though it was well grey outside to see it busy with gardeners ready at the starting blocks for the new season.

There’s more seeds to start off this weekend and we can pat ourselves on the back that it’s March and we are now just starting to thinking about sowing some tomatoes as we usually do that in January and at this time of year have a mountain of leggy tomato plants on the kitchen windowsill (above pic from a few years ago in March!)

Things are starting to wake up outside now, look at that foxtail lily go (above pic, please ignore the penicillin growing on the inside of the terrarium cloche).  And wherever you look in the Weeds HQ there’s always something gardening-related, I mean look at the dahlia tubers hiding under the bed, strange goings on indeed. It won’t be long now…

It’s a punky leggy party (and it’s alright)!

Weeds progress report March 2018: The seed trays on the windowsill in the front bedroom are doing well if not on the leggy side (nice article about correcting leggy seedlings here), containing heritage varieties from the Roots & Shoots event and some nice herb and veg seeds from Shannon’s. It’s early days yet but spring really does come around before you know it so it’s best to be prepared!

And the seed potatoes are chitting nicely (above). The hymn sheet-like list to the left corresponds to the seed tray next to it as we’ll probably forget what’s been sown. Roll on spring when we can sow those seeds in situ!

Undercover Lover

Fleece on the bed _2014

There were a couple of frosts last week which got me wondering on Thursday morning about the spuds I sowed a few weeks back after listening to Joe Maiden on BBC Radio Leeds. He said at the time it’s worth putting a row in as you never know what the future weather will bring.

Spuds pop up their heads_2014

I put some fleece over the area Thursday night as there was supposedly going to be more frost but then in the morning thought that it might have been a case of “shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted.”

Today I lifted it up the fleece and saw that the spuds have sprouted, how good is that, that Joe Maiden talks a load of sense! Do listen to the BBC Leeds’ Gardening with Tim & Joe show as there’s some great advice on it.

Veg Bed March 2014

I stuck in some Carrots in the veg bed today and noticed there’s some Parsnips and Cabbages peeping through the soil after sowing them a month ago. The morale of this tale is, it’s well worth taking a risk with seeds, what have you got to lose?

Full circle

once there was spuds..

Gardening’s great innit? Last week my wife pulled out the spuds from the plant that was growing in an old sack which gave us enough for a posh family tea (new potatoes, fish fingers and beans!) The seed potato cost me 5p from the Sydenham seedy sunday event earlier this year, a big bag of multipurpose peat-free compost was less than a fiver from Shannon’s and the sack was given to me free. All I had to do was water the plant and feed it every now and again with some diluted comfrey liquid. Cheap as chips, no pun intended!

After harvesting the potatoes I was left with the top of the plant, a rotting sack and a mound of used compost. No problem! The plant went on the compost heap, the sack put to use behind the pond to stop weeds growing and the compost reused again. I’ve filled some old plastic pots which were found in the street and split some pineapple and eau de cologne mints and giving them away to mates. Keeps the old circle going around as they say. I do love receiving seeds and stuff from me gardening mates so it’s nice to repay the favour sometimes!

old sink and mint

Talking of Shannon’s I popped in there the weekend and got myself some more seed potatoes to stick in now so they’ll be ready for christmas unless they get blight but that depends on the weather, just like a lot things to do with gardening! Big up the ‘umble spud!

Find of the week


Found this mad cloche outside a house with a “take me” note the other night (it will need a few air-holes drilled in the top). Typically I was knackered and had a full bag of shopping with us so it was a bit of a bind carrying it home (it’s well heavy as it’s glass and quite large) but I reckon it’ll be worth it’s weight in gold!  The day after I thought I had another touch when I saw seed potatoes for a pound to clear in Robert Dyas. On closer inspection they were the unhealthiest seed potatoes I’ve ever seen! They all looked like dried prunes and the chits had grown into sprouts that looked like twigs and were well dried out. The only use for them would be the compost heap. Watch out for those so called bargain offers!

do they owe us a living?

Talking of composting, the other day I found the above mad article by chance which mentioned Dial House home of the punk band Crass. It’s a review of a two day compost toilet building workshop, brilliant! Question: Do they owe us a living?…

Half term something come back again

Yesterday was a bit of a blinder weather-wise. There was a thick frost during the early hours of the morning but in the afternoon it was well nice and even got slightly warm!  I’m off for the half term so I got the old flymo out and did the lawn, forgetting to go around the remains of an old bush in the middle of the grass thus mangling the metal blade of the mower in the process. It was nothing that could be sorted with a slight modification with a pair of pliers!

chitted potatoes and moody catI’ve been warming up a bed for the past few days (where spuds are going to go) using some horticultural fleece and yesterday took the massive risk of putting in a small handful of seed potatoes and sticking the fleece back over, anchoring it down with bricks and stones as you know it’ll be cold again. I only put in about 6 so if they fail it will be only 90p wasted (they were 15p each at the great seed swap/spud event in Sydenham) but they are buried in about 3″ of pre-warmed soil and have fleece over the top of them so fingers crossed!

when the chits are downI also stuck one of the already chitted seed potatoes (the end with the nice green tips go skywards up!) in a large sack covering the tips of the chits with about an inch or so of compost and will keep adding more once they start growing. I put the sack in the homemade cloche/mini cold frame where it’s in the company of two seed trays of cabbage seedlings. The sack could’ve be started off in a conservatory or a porch keeping them out of way of the mad spring weather so give them a good start before moving them outside in a couple of months when the weathers better. More half term gardening reports to come…

Let them eat (Potato) cake

we're just chittingIt’s that time again! With the seed potatoes I bought at the Potato Fair and Seedy Sunday the other week I’ve started “chitting” them so to get the spuds off to a good start.

All that entails is simply getting the seed potato, placing them upright in a suitable container, an old egg box or a clean seed tray with the “rose end” upwards (the end that has the “eye’s”) and put in cool, light and airy place, away from frosts and let nature do it job. Mine are in the back room by the patio doors. I’ve just checked them now and I must have put a couple by mistake the wrong way around as yellow buds were starting at the bottom. No bother, just turn them around  if that happens.

In a few weeks you will get nice tight buds forming not those long yellow shoots you get when a potato starts to spout inside the spud bag! I’ve also felt-tipped on the box what variety they are and if it’s an early or a main cropper, as it’s very easy to get confused having bought two varieties.

We were told a great tip last year from Shirley Calgary who said “Actually you do not need the whole potato – I have cut the potatoes in 2 or 3 pieces as long as you have a sprouted or sprouting eye you are all set.” Brilliant!

Remember to tell everyone else in the house that they are special seed potatoes or you might have them cut, boiled and served on your dinner plate like “lewishamgardens” did. That’s a crime!