Sunday, 31 January 2010

Seeds of hope

The weather has been so awful, and the days so short that very little has been happening at the allotment so it was with great excitement that I opened the packet containing these lovely seeds of hope. This year I have decided to buy almost all of my seeds from The Real Seed Catalogue, this gave me a wonderful choice of seeds designed to be grown on a small scale and selected for their excellent taste.

The final choice included:

'Diamond' Aubergine - Ukrainian so it should be used to short cold summers
'White' Beetroot - looks like beetroot, tastes like beetroot but it is white so you don't have to stain skin and kitchen red
'Cherokee Trail of Tears' Climbing French bean - well can you resist that name?
'Tender & True' Parsnip - a great, reliable variety
'Green Boy' Pak Choi - Ready just 5 weeks after sowing
'Early Purple' Sprouting Broccoli
'Red Ursa' Russian Kale - A pretty kale (well taste isn't everything
'Double Standard' bi colour sweetcorn - with white and yellow kernels
'Monstrueux de Charentan' Leek - Short fat leeks for an autumn harvest
'Colossale' Fennel - A large fennel that is bolt resistant
'Latah' Very early tomato - Good for cold, short summers
'Green Heading' Calabrese
'Reine de Glaces' Toothed crisphead Lettuce - A variety from the 1800s with a crisp heart
'Komatsuna' Japanese Kale - Related to Turnips and Pak Choi but with leaves like Kale. Grows year round
'Wautoma' Cucumber - Productive and early with good disease resistance
'Collet Vert' Green topped Swede - A long keeping variety
'Long Lisse de Meaux' Carrot - An old french variety chosen for its keeping qualities
'Giant Red' Carrot - very vigorous which can't be a bad thing

I've been quite organised this year and checked my left-over seeds before ordering the new so I also have runner beans, salads, more Kale and other goodies to grow. Of course the second I placed my order I realised that I had forgotten Peas so no doubt there will be more purchases over the next few months.

As well as supplying a wonderful range of seeds, most of which I had never heard of before, the Real Seed Catalogue only supplies 'Real' seeds so you won't find any hybrids here. This means you have access to varieties which aren't widely available or in some cases varieties which are almost extinct but more importantly you can save your own seeds for future years and they even supply detailed instructions. I'll certainly be having a go but I think the cross-breading risk could make things difficult for some vegetables.

So how are you getting on with your seed buying?

Friday, 1 January 2010

A new year

Happy new year! I can't believe it is actually 2010. Where has all the time gone? Luckily today was a beautifully sunny day if maybe a little cold, so I continued my tradition of spending new year's day at the allotment. After a couple of good visits I am making progress with the seemingly never ending digging and even found time to cut the asparagus back. The pics above show the allotment in December 2008 on the left and today on the right, it is certainly looking less grassy!

2009 was another cold and wet year looking back I am amazed to see how much more time I spent at the allotment in 2008 compared to 2009 but on the plus side I am finally getting on top of the persistent weeds so I had a good harvest despite my absences. 2009 brought my first plums although sadly I am still to get an apple off my tree but it did prove to be another great raspberry year. I have added a Pear tree and 5 more raspberry canes to my collection so hopefully they are all spending the winter months putting down some sturdy roots.

On the veg side the losers were clearly the parsnips which failed to germinate and the Celeriac which hung up its boots in September but there were some impressive successes; the garlic is still going strong and who would have imagined that this would be the year of a tomato glut? 2010 should be the first harvest of the asparagus crowns which were planted in 2007 right at the beginning of the allotment story.

So how did you find 2009? Any lessons learnt? I am going to be trying much harder with my winter roots and hopefully I'll remember to sow some winter crops this time around. The garlic might have been overly successful so I have toned down the number of cloves somewhat and I might not plant quite some many cabbages next time around. Still a pretty good year, heres to the next one!