One of the things I planned to do with my two weeks off work was to make a start on sowing some seeds in preparation for our vegetable garden. My plans have been thwarted somewhat by a lack of greenhouse, an excess of snow, and rather a lot of visitors, but on Monday, thanks to more snow, one of our visitors had to cancel, and I used the time to start thinking about what to grow.
I've grown veg before, on an allotment of my own, in a community plot, and in our tiny city garden at our old house. It's always been a bit hit and miss. I didn't get to the allotment often enough, so I never had a reliable crop there. In the tiny garden, there wasn't much room, and we were often beset by slugs, which could demolish an entire garden full of veg plants in one night. I had far more success with herbs and soft fruit there.
Here, though, we have fields, and I've earmarked one of them for growing veg in.
I'd amassed quite a stash of veg seed, but a couple of years ago, when we decided to work towards moving house, I gave it all away. I knew I wasn't going to plant anything that year, or possibly the year after, and didn't want it to go to waste. So I'm pretty much starting from scratch here.
Except that I'm not really starting from scratch, because several lovely people have seen fit to give me seeds as gifts. What a cheerful idea! My auntie has even saved some of her own, which is most impressive, and which I have so far neglected to photograph, but I will do before I plant any of them. Others have come free with magazines, and I found a couple of packets I'd picked up cheap in Aldi a few weeks ago before we moved.
I've got quite a stash already. Two varieties of tomatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, three types of chilli peppers, basil, coriander, cauliflower, lettuce, mustard greens, beans, and six varieties each of courgettes and winter squash (might have to get creative come harvest time with that lot).
I planted a few things out in the greenhouse the other day - I'm not sure what will germinate as it's not heated in there. I bought compost, but I've used plant pots I found lying around and the insides of toilet rolls to plant them in. I've also used a cut up milk carton for the labels (apart from the ones that came with some packets of seeds - what a brilliant idea that is!)
The greenhouse is a plastic one, and while I've weighted it down as much as I can with large stones, the plastic does flap about quite a bit, and I suspect is in danger of catapulting the seeds off the shelves if I don't place them carefully. It's also not really transparent, so once you're in there, you can't really see out.
I'm reserving judgement, but it'll do for now while I wait for a decent sized one to come up on Freegle.
I'm trying to think about what else to grow. Not onions, as they're a bit finicky and also cheap to buy. But I might try some potatoes - we've got plenty of room and they're good for turning the soil over. I definitely want a few more varieties of beans and some peas. We eat a lot of kale, so I'll need plenty of that, sown in succession to keep us going through the winter I think, perhaps a few different varieties. And leeks. Some lettuce, and rocket, and I'm tempted to have a go at watercress given the amount of water that's round here. Garlic, rhubarb, and a load of soft fruit - gooseberries and raspberries for certain. I've got an apple tree in a pot that I want to plant in the ground, and it would be good to have plums too.
I'm not sure about root crops. I love carrots and parsnips, but they've always seemed like quite a bit of trouble. Mind you, I went to a talk recently by someone who's won competitions with parsnips that were 5 foot 5 long, so maybe I should follow his tips and give it a go?
Sit down and make yourself comfortable. I'm Jenni, and I write here about our new forray into country living, which includes growing food, knitting, baking, wandering around the fields, and seeing which local cafe serves the best cake.