Archive for the ‘Seed Sowing / Sowing calendar’ Category

This past Summer (Yup it’s Autumn already) I finally got around to growing some plants which I failed in previous years to cultivate properly, namely Okra and Aubergine (Eggplant / Brinjal).

I will however, have to stop experimenting too much with germinating times! While I have had good success starting sun loving annual veg’s and fruits as early indoors as Late January, this last Spring with the very last minute April shock frost took out more than half of my pre-germinated seedling stock and severely damaged at least 30% of the remaining half! From now on, I think it’s safe to commit perhaps 20% of all planned varieties / species to early sowings which can be sacrificial in the case of more late frosts.

Lettuce and Okra (2).jpg

The Beatuiful Okra Flowers in Mid Spring

Out of 4-5 Okra plants, I managed about the same amount of fingers! I attribute this to worrying too much about cold as well as pest damage and got around to planting them far too late, But the flowers are awesome!

On another note, I promised myself that this is ‘The Year Of The Salads’ and in the below photo, you can see how easy it is to find random suitable spaces to squeeze them in around your garden or plot, please stop regimentalising yourself thinking everything has to be monocultured in rows … NATURE DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT!        Rant over 🙂

Lettuce and Okra (1).jpg

‘Jack ice – Crisphead” Lettuce at the base of Pepper Plants

Lettuce are shallow rooted and short seasoned from germination to harvest, hence why greens (cooking, salads etc.) do outweigh heavier crops such as maize, tomatoes etc. in yield due to the amount of plants you can successionally grow in one space during the full season (There are winter Lettuces and other greens like Kale which overwinter – but no Maize, Pumpkins, Tomatoes etc etc.). Being shallow rooted, they need less nutrients compared to the heavier croppers so can be grown at the base of other plants as well (Pay attention though to Companion Planting Guides).

Soon I will post about Aubergine success and tips I got from side-shooting which seemed to increase yield! I got these tips from the awesome Charles Dowding, I do recommend to get a book or two of his if you are interested in growing your own vegetables! From a person who has around 34 years growing organically in no dig systems, you would not be making a bad move in following his tips and advice in my opinion …

 

Advertisements

I just wanted to say that with only a few years under my belt growing Onions, I can personally claim that Onion from seed (Preferrably from a good Heritage seed supplier) does far better than from sets (mini bulbs pre-grown to a small easy-to-handle size).

Yes, onion from seed are (or at least Seem to be) quite finniky / delicate to handle but Don’t let this put you off! The results are far better in my opinion.

Onion seed vs sets

Heritage Onion from Seed (LEFT) vs Commerically Available Onion Sets (RIGHT)

Take note that in the above photo, I grew Two types of Onion set and both were just as bad in terms of bulb swell and overall failure (Red Karmen and Stuttgart)

Why do (did) I still grow Onion from sets if I seem to have such better results from seed? Because this was my first proper season from start on my ‘new’ allotment and I came across a good deal in Lidl I think it was, for a bag of around 100 bulbs it was something ridiculous like $0.69p. So I decided to do a comparison test since I now have a much larger space to play around in.

Pros and Cons for both parties (Pro’s highlighted in Bold):

  • SETS:
    Can be contaminated with fungal growth or spores from storage or the production facility,
  • Most (probably 50-80% in my experience) didn’t get much larger than the little bulb that went in! (Don’t throw them away, make pickles!),
  • Need netting in the first weeks to prevent birds etc. from pulling them out before they establish,
  • Will need constant watering until they establish,
  • Are convenient if a Gardener is overwelmed with small seedlings on all available windowsills etc,
  • Save on plastic pots and compost,
  • SEEDS:
  • Are quite delicate when small,
  • Need one pot and compost per plant (or group of plants if following Multi Sowing),
  • In one year I had all of my onion seed attract aphid really early (February / March if I remember correctly?), however, that was well before I found out how to control them,
  • Have a much more well developed root system and romp away shortly after planting,
  • Swell up quicker too,
  • Far more disease resistance when compared,
  • Better options to choose from (such as storage length, taste, size etc.),
  • Establish quicker so need less tending,
  • Do not need netting,
  • Higher bulb-swell success rate as per observation (larger bulbs),

This is just a quick one to remind everyone that Summer is not the only time of year to grow vegetables for yourself and family, many leafy crops can be sown now or soon for over-wintering or supplying fresh greens during the cold months!

beets

Leafy Crops for Winter Vegetable supply

Some plants are intended to over-winter so that in spring after they have been spending the last few months establishing an extensive root network, they take to the new warm weather and pump out loads of delicious crop for us well before the Spring sown annuals are even out of their nursing trays! However, there are plants that will also supply food during the course of Autumn and Winter …

  • Garlic:

There are quite a few things you can plan for now, the best time to sow Garlic is in November as this ensures larger bulbs. There are specialist companies that provide Garlic via online mailorder but you could also just try a small patch of store bought cloves to see how they do! All 50-60 of the Garlic I grew this year were from Fruit and Veg shop bought bulbs, they did okay in my opinion. Plants which can follow Garlic include Tomatoes and even Pumpkins in the place of the harvested bulbs, I do however advise my readers and followers to research more options if possible …

  • Broad Beans:

Broad Beans ‘Flava flava’ can be sown September / October to over-winter for an early harvest in Spring, this mostly means that they should not be heavily affected by Black Aphid as Spring sown plants usually are. You can plan another Summer crop to grow in the place of the Broad Bean plants which you will remove after harvesting the bean pods, this is known in Vegetable Gardening as ‘Catch Cropping’ – effectively using a space for more than one crop over one year / season period.

  • True Spinach:

True Spinach, as opposed to other similar plants such as Perpetual Spinach (Another one to sow before Autumn for possible winter harvest) or Leaf Beet can be sown early to mid August for possible Autumn harvests (depending on your climate), anything sown later will mostly provide good yield in early Spring.
Similarly, Swiss Chard or Rainbow Chards should supply leaf and stalks in Autumn and perhaps Winter as well.

  • Round Seeded Pea varieties:

Round Seeded Peas (there are two types of dry seed, Round and Wrinkle Seeded) Round seeded varieties are hardier and the dry seed does not have any signs of a wrinkled skin. These can be sown September / October for an early harvest in Spring or in January onwards if you missed the Sept / Oct sowing period.

  • Winter Lettuces:

There are a decent number of Lettuce varieties which are quite hardy not only in unheated polytunnels and greenhouses but also outdoors, the best place to look for seed of this sort would be a heritage / heirloom seed supplier as they are likely to stock a few varieties, buying a cloche or mini polythene tunnel won’t be a bad idea as it keeps the cold winter winds from harming your plants. Check Salad Endive out for a year round easy to grow crop, another favourite with some gardeners is Lamb’s Lettuce AKA Corn Salad, this is a great plant to grow in a self-seed bed (A bed where you allow the plants to self seed as to reduce your own workload and allow nature to decide the ”sowing date”.

  • Oriental Greens:

Many oriental leafy vegetables are good for growing and supplying a decent yield in winter, varieties such as: Mizuna, Pakchoi,Tatsoi, Mispoona, Chinese Cabbage and Mibuna are all good.

  • The Hot / Peppery Greens:

Mustard Greens are very hardy, Rocket salad (Arugula) are a great plant to grow late Summer onwards as  the cooler weather will decrease the chances of the plants bolting.
Another good All Year, easy to grow green is Land Cress, placed in this category as it is a little spicy.

  • Windowsill Plants in Pots:

I always say people MUST experiment!! A few years back I grew a couple Tomato ‘Minibel’ (Small Cherry like, Pot Bush Tomatoes) in Terracotta pots indoors on my sunniest windowsill. I got perhaps 20-40 small mini-cherry tomatoes off of each plant during the season in your typical English Winter!

This year I will be growing a Cucamelon (As well as two Minibels again) in a slightly larger Terracotta pot on the same windowsill although with a mini bamboo trellis frame to support this Cucumber relative (Climber) keep an eye or follow this blog to see the results.

I know this list can still be expanded … however, I got lazy 🙂

We are approaching the point where the average Last Frost Date for our respective regions / areas will pass and we can start placing more sensetive plants outdoors for hardening in Polytunnels and greenhouses etc.

Here is a great image you can refer to, it is a zoomed out map of the UK with coloured areas indicating temperatre changes and the subsequent expected annual last frost date.

Last Frost Map PNG 1

Whilst this map is useful in checking your general area, you may want to zoom in and confirm exactly where your land sits, on This Site (< Click) you can zoom in further and also click on either the name where you live or another local name which is listed…

March and April both have basically the same crops that need sowing and are concidered shared months, it really all depends on your location, if you are in a zone in your country which is warmer compared to other parts, then it is likely that you can sow in March as opposed to your country men and women in colder areas …

purple beans

Outdoors (depending on weather and soil conditions)

  • Root crops including the first sowings of carrrots, parsnips, beetroot & turnips,

  • Mangetout & podding peas, also broad beans – although there’s less chance of pest problems if started in trays rather than right in the beds / ground

  • The first sets of summer salads such as lettuces, rocket, radishes, endive & cress,

  • Brassica crops for eating this summer & also through into the winter – kale, summer and (early) winter cabbages, brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, calabrese and cauliflowers

  • Swiss chard & leaf beet

  • Spring onions
    Leeks

In trays or pots (Outdoors)

  • If you have slug or weed problems, then you may find all of the brassica crops, leeks and salads do better started in trays/modules and then planted out when they are better able to withstand them.

  • Similarly broad beans and peas may have to be started indoors if you have trouble with mice

Indoors somewhere warm (germinator / good windowsill close to a heater)

  • Tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, ideally by the end of March.

  • Celery/celeriac (again need heat to germinate)

  • Courgettes, squashes, cucumbers and melons (but not too early, or they will get too large before the weather is good enough for them to go outside)

In a polytunnel / greenhouse direct into the border or pots

  • Summer salads

  • French beans for an early crop

  • Herbs such as basil, coriander & parsley

 

Happy Sowing! …..

I have been meaning to do this for ages and here it finally is, I have a dedicated page with a calendar for seed sowing and planting.
Click Here to jump straight to it, but keep in mind it is a page tab at the top of the screen near the ”About Growingarden” tab.

seasonal

Soon I will update the other months such as March onwards so you can order your seeds in advance and also prepare / think how you would like to arrange your garden design this year.
Keep in mind, newer concepts like Companion Planting, Planting for wildlife especially Pollinators etc. Some herbs are pungeant, they release off strong odours which repel and confuse pests.

Remember, to keep things interesting, think what did not work so well last year and apply one of the Permaculture Principles ”The Problem is the Solution”- in other words you can fix a problem by turning it into a solution and working with it instead of against.
For an off -the-head example: If you have had problems with slugs and no matter what you do, their numbers never drop and the population keeps staying high, get a duck or two! Ducks love them and you will be introducing a pest controller into your system which will produce eggs and even meat if you wish, lets not forget they also have a built in rear compost spreader as well! 😉

This Seasonal Growing Calendar is only valid for Cold Weather  / Temperate Climates such as in the Northern Hemisphere / Europe/UK where frosts are expected during winter.

There a are a number of plants due for sowing in February, as well as some which show up in the Janurary list, these too can still be sown now …

baby-carrots

Young Carrots Growing In A Container

Indoors:

  • Round Seeded Peas (See explanation / description in January Sowing Calendar – Click Here),
  • Aubergines, Tomatoes and Peppers (Especially Aubergines, these plants really do need a good early start in order to have a chance of baring fruit in our climate), Peppers take long to germinate (Sometimes almost a month so going by what a general seed pack says will almost always spell disater) and Tomatoes can always do with an earlier start – just be sure to have a nice indoor spot for them to grow on in whilst waiting for the last frost date,

Outside (Polytunnel or Green house):

  • Oriental Greens and Winter Lettuce Varieties again for planting in March, (See varieties list in the January Sowing Calendar),
  • If you are in a warmer part of the country, Carrots can be sown inside Greenhouses and Polytunnels to produce an earleir Crop – you can consider these ‘Early First Earlies!’
    NOTE: I would still reccommend experimenting though, I have some carrots which were sown late outdoors with no cover at all and I am in what is considered a ”warmer part of the ountry” these Carrots have survived well on a windy site without top cover, albeit looking worse for wear, they are alive and will definitely improve when the weather gets better