Thursday, January 5

A really wild start!

Well the New Year has been off to a wild start and not in the party sense. If you have read Martyn's blog you will know that we have been kept busy righting bird tables and collecting other people's rubbish from our garden.

The wind has been worse during the night which has meant a lack of sleep resulting in bleary eyes and a foggy head in the morning but I'm not complaining too loudly as compared to some areas we have got off lightly! I hope all of you in the UK and your possessions are still in one piece. Just hope the plot has survived!

Being confined to indoors has at least meant we have managed to complete our 2012 seed order and send it off.

We are more or less confining ourselves to four seed companies, Kings (because as NSALG members we get a large discount), Thompson & Morgan, Plants of Distinction - Simply Vegetables and Marshalls. Kings don't have all the varieties that we want!

Lots of seeds ordered are the same varieties as last year - any that didn't do well are being given a second chance as last year was hardly a fair test. Our Carouby de Maussane mangetouts were a disaster but it was a poor pea year for us generally so it is on this year's list too.

A new vegetable for this year is Lettuce - Little Gem Dazzle which has red tinged leaves. Another is cabbage - Candissa which can also be used as a mini vegetable but grows to about 1kg in weight when fully mature.

We are adding to our pepper varieties (no not chillies Mark!). The varieties are Planet which is a long pepper, that is supposedly very sweet and easy to grow, and Palladio which is said to be the yellow counterpart to Planet

Two new (to us) tomatoes are Jakarta - a beefsteak variety and San Marzano a variety we acquired as a magazine freebie which will be a tester for growing tomatoes outdoors next year - no doubt blight will see them off but who knows? We also have a free packet of carrot - St. Valery which is supposed to be an exhibition carrot - we'd just like it to produce some edible carrots! We'll leave exhibiting to Damo.

We are also going to try yet again to grow celery and celeriac. Success with both of these has so far alluded us so any tips (are you there Kelli?) will be most welcome! We're trying celery - Victoria, a self blanching variety reputed to grow in places that are 'traditionally' difficult and celeriac - Giant Prague - the catalogue says celeriac is easy to grow as long as it is sown early and kept constantly moist. We will see if either or both these claims are born out.

We are also growing aubergines which we don't usually, they haven't really been fruitful for us, but a friend has a packet of seeds - Black Beauty -  that he doesn't want so we may as well give it another go.

After last year's disappointment with the winter vegetable plants we are going to grow from seed this year and have chosen, broccoli - White Sprouting early and Red Arrow, cauliflower - Aalsmeer.

I was going to add the potatoes and flowers to this post but I think it's gone on for long enough so I'll keep these for later.

Our full vegetable seed list can be viewed here


  1. Good luck with the celeriac Sue - I have found it very hard to get a decent crop. Masses of water seems to be vital.
    I agree with you that it's not fair to dismiss a veg variety after only trying it once, because no two years are the same.
    Judging by the San Marzano and St.Valery, you are also a TKG subcriber - yes?

  2. Yes, I'm here! That's some seed list you have going for 2012 so far! Celery - hmmm I'm a beginner and maybe i had beginner's luck?

    A friend brought me a pack of Celery seeds from the USA by Plant Hart's Seeds, US$2.29. I planted seeds indoor in a sun room (lean to conservatory) on 3 April. They showed good germination. I planted seedlings outside in June in a veg box I had prepared with compost, soil and organic chicken manure pellets. I netted the veg box and used sunken beer traps until plants established. When established I basically left them to grow, applying feed every so often. The slugs ate other things in the veg box and didn't bother much with the celery. That's all the inside info i have, (I think!) :)

  3. I am a KG subscriber Mark? Do you visit the forum too?

    No doubt some more will add to it if only via free seeds Kelli - thanks for the tips.

  4. I've got bags as big as suitcases under my eyes today after a sleepless night, Sue. I thought the roof was going to blow away at one point. I've picked up all the wrapping paper which blew in to next door's garden out of my green bin. I'm ready for an early night tonight. I've grown San Marzano in the greenhouse and they were delicious, though they didn't do so well last year. I'm giving a different plum variety a go this year. Good luck with the aubergines. I grew Black Beauty in the greenhouse for three years before I managed to get a plant to fruit. Hope you have better luck than me.

  5. Some good varieties Sue and good luck with the carrots. I can't wait to get mine started and need to resist for a couple of months!

  6. Be interesting to see how you get on Sue, most of my seeds will be the same as last year as I have plenty left, although I have saved some tomato seed from supermarket tomatoes which I enjoyed so we will see what happens with them.

  7. Oooh seed ordering time, I can feel the growing season coming! I love sound of the little gems, theyre my favourite lettuce. Fingers crossed for a less windy night tonight, my poor mum lost half her greenhouse last night, we lost some rooftiles and still have to survey the rest of the damage. Let's hope that's an end to it!

  8. I find celery likes water, food and Melbourne's winter temperatures best - ie average about 14-18 daytime temp and getting down to single figures at night. I have no trouble growing it in winter but find in summer the stalks dont fatten up and the leaves look old and tough. I grow mine in what is probably part sun - about 5 hours per day in winter.

  9. Sue, it sounds like you kids have had quite a wind storm up there! I hope no permanent damage has been done to your house or allotment!
    It's exciting to mull over and debate seed ordering from the inside of a cozy house? :) I've yet to make up my mind. It's a bit overwhelming all the choices pouring in. I'd better get to it though, somethings I'm going to want to start very soon. Cheers, Jenni

  10. 2011 was not a pea year for us too. The seed catalogue there are very colourful and glossy. Ours are usually the newspaper type of paper that comes to us. Good Luck with the celery and celeriac. I was thinking of growing celeriac at end summer but I don't think I have enough water for it.

  11. That's very good start for new year! Hope you will succeed and have many harvest this year!

  12. Hope you made up for your sleep last night Jo - I did. Will look forward to San Marzano then.

    It is a bit early yet Damo - we must be due some sort of cold spell.

    Some of the seeds on the spreadsheet are last year's seeds Elaine but I've also been sowing some under the growing light as salad greens.

    At least last night was quiet FRG hope it was for you too so sorry for your mum.

    I don't think it's likely to get too hot for it here Liz although who knows. Thanks for the tips.

    We haven't visited the allotment yet Jenni fingers crossed.

    I love peas too Diana so was disappointed not to get many. Do your catalogues have coloured photos in which make them so tempting.

    So do I Malar we even got four more packs of seeds in a magazine that came yesterday

  13. organisation is the key and you are off to a great start...I have all my seeds but need to get them are certainly growing a good variety...I can't wait to get started this year.

  14. And some seeds have already arrived only a couple of days after posting the order. Tanya

  15. Re celeriac. I tried for about five years before I had any success. Up to and including 2013 I practised ways of getting good germination and propagation to planting out size, then getting a crop - very varied results, but improving. I had success in 2014 but the slugs hollowed them out! So this year, with strict anti-slug measures, I've had my best crop ever. One thing I've been thorough with has been the removal of lower leaves, it seems to have helped a great deal.I have planted them in a bed of soil which is largely allotment produced compost - that has helped.

    1. They do seem to be challenging - will you grow them again? Or was it a case of wanting to succeed at least just once.

    2. A bit of both. Having succeeded why. Not carry on? But as with many of the veg I grow, I'll only grow about 6 to 8, it's enough for our needs.


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