Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Micro Greens

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I was asked by a company called Suttons Seeds if I would like to try out some of thier new Mirco Greens kits, well how could any keen gardener say no?

They arrived today, gosh there where loads, all sorts of different kits. They appear to have a brilliant range. And Wow, they really did come at the right time too, as I’m am busting at the seams to do some kind of gardening and the fact you can do it all on a warm light window ledge, it’s perfect for frustrated gardeners.

What are micro greens? Basically they are young seedlings that are grown for their first couple of leaves. It says on the boxes these first leaves contain more nutrients and vitamins and are packed with protein, sounds good to me!

Each of the kits contain 3 generous packets of seeds, 3 growing mats, and a handy container with a lid. So three harvests can be had for a few quid. Basically turning your window ledge into a mini allotment. I like the sound of this!

So today I have sown ‘Twinkle tendrils’ which are pea shoots, ‘Ruby Frills’, ‘Rainbow Bright’ and ‘Peppery Passion’.

The Ruby Frills and Rainbow Bright seeds appear to be some kind of chard/Beetroot. And I’m guessing the ‘Peppery Passion’ must be a kind of red rocket or spicy lettuce maybe?

That’s my only complaint at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of info on what the seeds are. I’m one of those types of gardeners who likes to know a little more about the seed, than a pretty name and a picture. The problem with not knowing completely what they are, if I love them, how will I be able to buy them again without buying another kit? But hey, it’s mid winter and I’m growing something, so that’s keeps me happy!

It says we will be harvesting little salads in 3 weeks, so I will keep you posted.

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Kale and allotment snobbery

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I do love vegetables, to me they are the ultimate plant. Many have long histories, they are fascinating to grow and the amount of varieties keeps even the humble carrot interesting, the best bit of it all, you can eat them!

This is a staple in our house, we all love it, Kale.

It’s a meaty veg with a proper bite to it. Tastes wonderful in stews with all sorts of meat, amazing with pasta or just on a plate with butter and cheese grated on the top.

One of the reasons I particularly love it is, well apart from it’s taste is, it looks beautiful. Curly Kale with it’s zig zag edged leaves, it’s adorable – it’s a tough old bird too. Especially the dwarf kind.

She’s not bothered about shade, full sun, soil type as long as the soil isn’t water logged she will grow through it all. I sowed these last spring and she is still giving wonderful harvests in winter too. Slugs don’t really bother it, maybe the odd caterpillar in summer and pigeons aren’t the least bit interested, it’s a tough cookie for sure.

I mentioned allotment snobbery, well that’s because I was shocked to my socks by a comment from another allotment holder last year. I was minding my own business picking a huge basket of it one sunny day, when the bird song and serenity was broken by a woman who invited herself onto my plot.

“Kale I see” she said in a voice which reminded me of a school teacher.
“Oh yes! Isn’t it lovely? It’s really tasty” I replied.
“They feed it to horses you know, I don’t bother with it” and off she tromped in her golfing shorts and head visor.
I sat there for a minute slightly confused, “what was that all about?”

Well The moral of this little tale is thus…

As I walked down the allotments last weekend to have a look what wonders and exciting things people were up to (there’s always something) I walked past her plot, I could help but notice it was barren; nothing to eat at all!

So my golf short wearing friend. ‘I’d sooner eat like a race horse all year round, than like a King just in the summer! (I’m also blowing a raspberry too) X

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Aquadulce Claudia – over wintering broad bean.

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In November last year I sowed some over wintering broad beans called Aquadulce Claudia. I have never sowed them before, but I love broad beans and the idea that I could have a cheeky early harvest in late spring really excited me.

I sowed them in three different locations to see which location would be best for next Autumn.

– The first were sowed in an unheated Poly tunnel

– Second unprotected in a raised bed

– Third where in a raised bed but under a home made cloche made from corrugated plastic.

Results so far:

The first set popped their heads up first, but then disaster struck, when mice snuck into the Poly Tunnel and dug all but two up, then to add insult to injury snails started to nibble on them. They are still growing the tallest, but they do look very leggy, which would suggest, even though the poly tunnel is bright the light level may not be ideal for them.

The unprotected ones came up last but more germinated, although healthy, still small.

The last set grown under the makeshift cloche look brilliant however not as many germinated. The ones that did come up, look fab. Lovely and strong, good colour very healthy. The corrugated plastic is completely clear, unlike the slightly opaque Poly tunnel.

It’s still early doors with regards which way is best, but now spring is approaching things will start to speed up.

It’s quite an interesting experiment. Hopefully in the late spring I will be munching on wonderful bright green Broad Beans covered in garlic butter… Well that’s the plan!

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Hippeastrum

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I was walking around a supermarket in November last year and I spotted some Hippeastrum bulbs going cheap. Mainly because the boxes were a little damaged, well I couldn’t resist, £3, with the pot and soil included – sold!

I planted the huge bulb gave it a water and popped it on to the window ledge in the living room, keeping the soil slightly moist. Well a month past and slowly it started to spring into life, with a huge green spike emerging from the soil. It got bigger and bigger and four buds appeared.

I got home from work today to be greeted by these huge smiling flowers. Well being a gardener I was over joyed.

The miracle and beauty of the world around us, we take so much for granted. And during a grey damp winters day what a truly wonderful thing to behold.

It might be a gloomy overcast day outside, but looking at this I could be in a tropical paradise, I’m chuffed to pieces… Even more so, as it only cost me 3 quid!

My only regret is I should have bought more!

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Very Odd

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A butterfly just decided to fly into our kitchen – In January?

Flowers are still flowering from last year, what on earth is going on?

Usually in January everything is pretty much dead or sleeping. It’s a very different January indeed.

Please bare in mind I don’t live in an area that is normally associated with mild weather. The North West of England is wet and cold mostly all year round, expect for our ‘one week of summer’.

Well people who say the climate isn’t changing really need to travel more and see what’s going on around the world as this, my friend, isn’t normal at all!

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Pot Marigolds and Sweet Peas

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My daughter and I were a little bored today so we walked down the garden into the allotment to have a little look what was happening. While we mooched about I was amazed to see the Pot Marigolds have started to flower again!

Their cheery faces popping out from amongst the Brussels and Broccoli was amazing. Flowers in January?

So January 2014, Happy New Year to you!

If you are like me and itching to start sowing some seeds, why not soak some sweet peas over night and pop them in some compost? They like a nice long year, so get them in now.