Pricking out

I spent a very pleasant sunny morning this week inside my greenhouse. I was listening to Radio 4, pricking out my ickle seedlings. Seedlings should NEVER be handled by the stalk, always by the seed leaves or a root ball. The tiny hairs up the main stem of a tomato seedling can actually develop into roots, and some schools of thought say that you can plant them right up to the first set of seed leaves. I must admit, I did plant them about half way up the stem, but they did look a bit sickly for the first few hours - they fell right over and looked like they might transpire. The next day they were standing up tall and straight in their new home.

My early mangetout peas are up, so are my broad bean Express. Chilli seedlings are looking good, as are the Aubergine Enorma which I planted back in January.

Every year I try something different. I bought some Asparagus Pea seeds, and sowed a few in the greenhouse. They look like they are related to sweet peas, you pick the pods when they are only 1" long (sorry don't do metric!) and they are supposed to taste like asparagus. I have heard mixed opinions about them. Has anyone tried growing them, I would be interested to know.

First signs of Spring!

How exciting is this !!! Nestled right down at the growing tip of my purple sprouting broccoli is my first spear! All that long Winter waiting, protecting from the pigeons, the cats, the rabbits, the cabbage whites, the caterpillars and the slugs..... finally! Just a couple of weeks more and I will be in veggie heaven once more.

Instructions: Boil a saucepan of water first, then go down the garden and pick your broccoli, then boil it for a little while , then eat it - STILL SQUEALING!

French Potato Varieties

I went to Borough Market yesterday. Anyone who lives near london must give it a visit one day - it really is a foodie (and veggie) heaven! Situated underneath Southwark cathedral, near London Bridge station. Any sort of fresh fruit and veggies you will find there. Don't have anything to eat before you go, there are lots of freebies - cheeses, sausages, olives, choccies, cakes from all round the world.

There was a fantastic display of potato varieties in the veggie market. This variety was labelled as 'Black Truffle' from Brittany, France. After some research on the internet this afternoon I discovered the world of French potato growing and cultivating. Those clever Froggies have literally hundreds of potato varieties to choose from. These are known as the variety 'Vitelotte'. I noticed that they had just started to chit (that means sprout, Porl !) so I thought I would buy some to plant. I wonder if they are related to Char-lotte??

Just thought I would also mention here, that I have given up visiting major supermarkets for Lent. I detest the way that supermarkets are raping the countryside, destroying our old tasty English varieties and screwing the British farmers, all for the sake of their own profits - and not the customers. I will be patronising every farmers market and local shop from now until Easter. Anyone care to join me?

To chit or not to chit...?

My seed potatoes arrived this week from . Well, most of them arrived - sadly both my order and my Sisters order were wrongly packed and we did not get what we ordered. Here are the 'Epicure' and 'Rocket'. Hopefully in the next few days my 'Red Duke of York' will be arriving.

To chit or not to chit - that is the question. I do it because I have always done it... and also that you have to do something with them between the time they arrive in the post and the time you plant them. Good Friday is the traditional time that gardeners plant potatoes. (does anyone know any other gardening / planting folklore?) The idea is to put them on a tray with the eyes upwards, in the daylight but away from frost - and they will start to sprout. If they are kept in the dark the sprouts will be spindly and white, and break easily. But does it matter whether you chit or not? Some schools of thought say not. The BBC Gardeners' World programme did a trial last year, and it didn't seem to matter. Any thoughts on the subject?

Matron's words of wisdom

You can't eat flowers!

Greenhouse Heating - Update

Blog readers may recognize this photo as my 'straw bale urinal'. This is an old fashioned method of heating greenhouses - do I have to explain? Well, I'm afraid, after some careful thought it has been terminated. It is no longer.

Well, not only was it not terriby comfy (I'll leave that one to your imagination) I was not the only visitor. My dog Buddy decided to give it his seal of approval.... along with all the neighbourhood foxes and tomcats !!! The stench was unbearable - so my no-dig garden has a lovely new layer of mulch till the Spring.

So, from now on - my plentiful supply of re-cycled tea, coffee, latte, cappuccino, beer and cider...(you get my drift) will be re-directed and re-cycled in the vicinity of the compost heap. Posted by Picasa

To my readers..

What a silly old sausage I am!

Accidentally switched on 'moderate comments' after some spam comments last November. I was wondering where all my readers had got to. There you all are! You've brightened up a dark evening.

Bob Says...

All Hail Saint Bob! The blessed Bob hath spoken - praise be to Bob!

I am talking of course, about Bob Flowerdew on Gardeners Question Time (GQT) today. He comes up with the most wonderful suggestions in the 'topical tips'. Well.... Bob Says.... if you find any of your potatoes in storage have sprouted shoots, you can take cuttings and plant them up to make little plants which can eventually be planted out along with the seed potatoes. I remember seeing potato 'slips' in an American gardening catalog - they send out little cones of potatoes which have an 'eye' these are planted up like slips and it is common to buy potatoes in the USA this way.

I think these photographed are either 'cara' or 'marfona' which should be OK. I have already ordered my seed potatoes, but I'll give this a whirl. Thanks Bob.

(PS. if you search Google image you can find a picture of a naked Bob covered only by a fig leaf - down girl!) Posted by Picasa


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London came to a grinding halt today. I don't care! I was off work today anyway so I wrapped up warm and took my doggy out for a long walk on the common. We had fun! Posted by Picasa

Horse Manure

Today in London was a freezing cold day with bright, bright sunshine. I spent a happy morning at Ealing riding stables on Gunnersbury Lane, shovelling manure. Now gardeners will understand the thrill of it... others will just have to follow.

The heat generated from the centre of this pile of steaming gold was incredible! Once I had dug down a few feet the heat radiating out of it was like standing next to a bonfire - and my glasses kept steaming up! 10 large bags of manure lifted up into my car and driven home.

Only trouble is.... my car is in for its annual service tomorrow and it pongs a bit! Time to try some air freshner spray. Happy days!

First Seedlings

Here is the beginning of my growing year! Seeds which can be planted at this time of year really benefit from a long growing season, provided that you can keep their little bottoms warm with a heated propagator. To the left are my aubergine 'Enorma' and to the right are my yellow tomato 'Ildi'. Also yet to come up are some Tomato 'Tigerella' 'Marglobe' ' Gardeners Delight'and 'Harlequin' all saved by me from seed last year.

The plant labels are plastic knives which I 'borrowed' from work. Posted by Picasa

First Seeds

My first seeds are up ! Nothing heralds the forthcoming season like seeing your first little seedlings popping up in a heated propagator. A variety of tomato called 'Ildi' , a small yellow cherry tomato I have not grown before.

Seeds that you can start at this time of year are chilli and aubergine which benefit from a longer growing season, as long as you can keep them warm in a propagator.