Tuesday, 4 March 2014

And sow we begin again

The dining room table is no longer available for dining.
For the near end is where I am chitting my potatoes and the far end has just been set up as my sowing station.
I normally resist the urge to sow seeds for a couple more weeks at least. In the house they just go leggy and tend to succumb to damping off. I can give them the heat they require, though for most this is only necessary for germination itself. But I can't provide anywhere light enough and airy enough.

I'd love to move them into the polytunnel, but daytime temperatures in there at the moment range from 50 to 70, and that's in a very mild late winter. 50 should be OK for leeks, but I'm not sure about tiny tomato plants, chillies or aubergines.

Pepper seeds. Four varieties in one half tray.
I'll transplant them quickly so they don't get crowded.
Leek Jealousy
Now, every year at the Fenland Smallholders produce show, someone turns up with impossibly perfect leeks, whilst mine are still far from fully grown. Fortunately last year I managed to beat them off with my red cabbage, which took the rosette in 'best vegetable grown above ground' category.
But I resolved that I too would have leeks in September. I scoured the seed catalogues and purchased a packet of leek seeds of the variety Jolant, an early variety. I sowed the seeds last week and they are already coming through.

Babies thrown out
And with the knowledge that I now have a hotbed in the polytunnel which is already beginning to warm up, I've also started off my tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and peppers too. In fact, the smaller seeds of the cherry varieties have germinated already. I'm going to be bold and put them straight out into the mini greenhouses over the hotbed and see what happens. If the experiment fails, there's still plenty enough time to start again.
Cherry Tomato "Honeybee"

Meanwhile, in the outside beds..
Of course, with the passing of winter and the advent of spring, the veg beds need getting ready. There's a constant ebb and flow between the ground drying out and another rainy day making it too wet to work. But the balance is moving towards being workable and if I don't start now, it won't be long before I have queues of young plants waiting to go into beds which are not ready.
Here's the first bed to get the treatment. Doesn't it look neat!

Meanwhile, the garlic cloves which I planted about a month ago have been making the very most of their head start.

88 degrees in early March!
ed. The newly germinated leeks and a few tomatoes which have just started to come through have been thrown into the cauldron today. They are in a mini greenhouse, over the hotbed, in the polytunnel. This morning, under perfectly blue skies, I recorded a temperature of 88 degrees in there! I really need to get myself a max/min thermometer though to see what's happening at night.

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