Sunday, 20 April 2008

April sowings

I'm really feeling the pressure now to dig the last areas of the plot and mark out the rest of the beds in time for mid-May, but after a week of too much work and not enough sleep, I have decided I'm too tired and it's too cold to do any digging today.

But I have got round to sowing some more seeds, and I thought I'd post some pics I took on a flying visit to the plot earlier in the week.

The tiny parsnip seedlings I planted out a couple of weeks ago seem to be enjoying their new home:

The direct-sown lettuces are doing really well - it'll be time to thin them soon I expect. Shown below are 'Little Gem', red cos 'Marshall' and mizuna. You can really see the difference between sowing them out under the sun and sowing them indoors, or even under the fleece cover of my greenhouse. No spindly stems at all on these babies!

The peas are popping up eagerly in their rows:

And the broad beans are growing away well, although a couple of them don't look too healthy. There's no sign of any pests on them and they were well used to outdoor conditions before I planted them out, so I don't really know what's wrong. There are brown spots on the upper leaves, and some of the leaves are curled and underdeveloped. Ah, how I wish I'd sown them back in the winter - my neighbours' broad beans are ten times the size of these little specimens, with none of the health problems mine have had!

The seeds I've been sowing are mostly squashes and cucumbers. I love squashes; they're so easy to grow, versatile in the kitchen and a delight stored into the winter when the only other things we'll be growing (fingers crossed!) are greens and root veg. So I'm growing the same pumpkins we enjoyed last year, the butternut and spaghetti squash that both got pot-bound and failed last year while I was struggling to clear their plot of weeds, and a couple of new types I found on the web and fancied trying!

The first time I grew cucumbers it was a variety called 'Moneta'. The flavour and texture were spectacular, the fruits were huge and the plants were incredibly productive - they were a real joy. Last year I couldn't find the same variety but tried the popular 'Marketmore' instead, and got nothing. So this year I've been searching and searching for 'Moneta' again but to no avail! Eventually I gave up and bought some 'Wautoma' from Real Seeds. The fruits look veeery similar and they come highly recommended for their flavour, huge size and incredible productivity, so here's hoping...

4 x pumpkin 'Hundredweight'
4 x squash 'Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato' (a white heart-shaped Acorn type from Real Seeds - early, long-keeping and delicious, they say)
4 x squash 'Blue Hubbard' (another good storer with a nutty flavour)
4 x squash 'Butternut'
4 x squash 'Tivoli' (spaghetti squash)
4 x cucumber 'Wautoma'
2 x cucumber 'Marketmore'
2 x courgette 'Soleil' (my second sowing, for later fruits)
2 x courgette 'Zuboda' (another second sowing)
12 x celery 'Loretta' (because the first sowing got waaay too leggy on my windowsill and I'm not sure it'll pull through)
12 x mixed chillies (I'm not too keen on hot stuff and I wasn't going to bother with chillies, but then I got a free packet on the front of a magazine and I just couldn't resist. Eddie can be my taster and heat-gauge!)


Anonymous said...

I'm lamenting not sowing my broad bean seeds last year also. The plot next to mine has strong, tall bean plants which look so much better than my lanky ones. You live and learn.

Paul and Melanie said...

I really need to get sowing more stuff direct into the soil... I just want it to warm up a bit or else I worry they'll just rot in the ground.

Your stuff is looking amazing though, I wish I was quite so organised! :)

Mrs Be said...

I am very impressed! Do you have a greenhouse or do you start things off on windowsills?

Amy said...

Wow I can't believe how much stuff you have growing in the ground. I haven't dared move anything out of the greenhouse yet so I think I am a long way behind you but fingers crossed for a sunny weekend.

Nome said...

Aww thanks guys! (Organised?? My Dad'll laugh himself silly when he reads that!)

I figure the worst that can happen if a direct sowing doesn't work is I have to do it again in a few weeks! If it says you can sow outdoors in March/April on the seed packet that's good enough for me.
There are cloches and fleece tunnels popping up all over our allotment site at the moment with carrot and lettuce seedlings underneath, but mine are doing just fine in the open. I think sometimes we worry too much. :) And like I say, what's the worst that can happen?

Mrs Be - I only have one of those little plastic greenhouses and our house is very tiny with only two west-facing windowsills, so most things germinate indoors then move to the greenhouse, and tender veg are juggled between outdoors on warm days, the greenhouse when there's room, and the windowsills at night and if it's really cold. It gets kinda hectic...

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