My growing obsession blog

Struggles and successes in a suburban garden

Shopping and raking January 6, 2011

Now that the extension is finished (bar the decorating) my mind has turned to new starts and springtime. Especially in the garden. As a result, I spent the weekend ordering seeds and raking leaves.

A tidy seed box = a tidy mind

The weather on Sunday didn’t appeal, so I sorted through my vegetable seed tin and chucked away anything over two years old. (I’ll have to look over the seeds of annuals another day). I found this really hard to do and actually I have sneaked back in some seed I saved from my runner beans at least two years ago.

Anyway, feeling virtuous, I set about making a list of what I had left (how I love lists!) and another list (any excuse!) of what I needed to buy fresh this year. I then headed to the Thompson & Morgan website (http://www.thompson-morgan.com/)  and started shopping. I should point out that I’m not a slave to T&M – I had a £10 voucher burning a hole in the pile of recycling – and recommend looking at Marshalls (http://www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk/), Suttons (http://www.suttons.co.uk/) and Sarah Raven (http://www.sarahraven.com/) – if you’re feeling flush).

The big veg plan

The list below is what I’ve decided to grow this year. I’m quite hopeful about some of the veg (eg beetroot) and expecting to fail with others (eg artichokes). I’d be interested to know what you think of my choices.

  • Beetroot globe coloured collection. This is a pack of three varieties: Boltardy (which I’ve grown successfully before), Burpee’s golden (because I fancied trying a yellow one) and Chioggia Pink (a striped pink one which I thought looked pretty and therefore worth a go).
  • Dwarf French bean purple tepee. I used to grow this variety years ago and always had good results. My climbing purple ones last year weren’t that good (maybe I didn’t plant them in the right place) and I struggled to reach the climbers in the raised bed, so I’ve decided that I’m going back to the dwarf variety.
  • Courgettes Soleil (yellow) and Tristan (green and allegedly a scratch-free variety).
  • Potatoes which I’ll grow in the planters purchased a few years back. Last year’s potatoes were not my finest (I’m blaming blight) yet the year’s before were great. Such temperamental tubers. This year I’ve decided to grow Rocket (a first early variety), Vivaldi (a second early or early maincrop if you leave the tubers to get big enough) and Charlotte (a second early which I’ve grown successfully before). 
  • Tomatoes Garden Pearl (already have the seed and love the small pink-ish fruits) and Costoluto Fiorentino (hopefully a big, beefy variety that will eventually ripen outdoors). Both will be grown in tubs. 
  • I found lots of lettuce seeds and will be giving all of them a go, squeezed into any gaps I can find. These include Merveille de Quatre Saisons, Cos Blonde Maraichere, Rossa di Trento, Radicchio Chicory and mixed salad leaves (peppery mix). 
  • Carrot Sytan. I’ve tried to grow this before and the results really weren’t worth the effort but perhaps this time I’ll have more luck. 
  • Artichoke – why not?! It’ll look attractive at least. 
  • Red swiss chard (an acquired taste but I like it and it’s really easy to grow). 
  • Kales Nero de Toscana and Redboor (because they were my big successes last year). 
  • Squash Sweet Dumpling (because I ran out of room for this last year and gave my baby plants away to friends).
  • Runner bean Painted Lady (tried and tested). 
  • Yellow Climbing French bean. I am least hopeful of these doing anything but as I only have a few of these seeds left and a few of the aforementioned runner beans I thought I’d stick them together against the same wigwam and see what happens.

I’m also going to try and squeeze in some leeks and peas but I’ll buy these in the spring as baby plants from my local garden centre.

Getting the garden in order

Bank holiday Monday saw a glimpse of sun and, thanks to the great views of the garden from the extension, I couldn’t put off raking/tidying any longer. A few hours later, I’d managed to make the part of the garden I can see best from the house look ten times better (although not good enough for a photo I’m afraid!). Weather and decorating permitting, the rest of the garden will be spruced up next weekend.

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6 Responses to “Shopping and raking”

  1. Hannah Bufton Says:

    Helloo!
    Tis indeed the season for seed sorting 🙂
    I also love T&M… must be because they were the catalogues I pored over as a nipper! I have used their triple beetroot pack before. Delicious & looked very pretty roasted

    This year I have plumped for Kings seeds- family run business. It is hard to throw them away though isn’t it! I heard that lettuce & parsnip are the ones you definately need fresh each year.

    Have a change of plan this time- sharing the allotment with a pal & we’re mainly targeting fruit & squashes up there.
    I have a bed at home I will try to cram as much into as possible, Easier to weed & water when the kids are asleep! also there is no water supply at the allotment!
    keep us posted, Hannah

  2. John W Says:

    That looks like a good list.

    Finally got around to sweeping the the epic pile of sycamore leaves covering our basement patio on Monday (inspired by Carol Klein’s appearance on Woman’s Hour! The leaves have been taunting me since about October). It’s all looking a bit bare now, but better for being tidy.

    Must have a think about what to grow this year — courgettes, spinach, chilis and herbs were our winners last year; I reckon beetroot would be worth a try, and if you have any other seeds going spare I’m sure we could find them a home…

  3. robert Says:

    I’m intrigued, Rhiannon: what’s a ‘scratch-free’ courgette?

    Robert x

    • Well, hopefully, it will be a variety that won’t scratch my hands to shreds when I pick courgettes! Do you not find that when cutting off mildewy courgette leaves your hands get irritated by the little spines along the stems, leaves and courgettes themselves?


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