Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday 20th January 2006 - Weather: Gorgeous! Not a cloud in the sky.

However, when I took the kids to school this morning, it was misty, damp and started to rain! I decided therefore to come home, make marmalade (currently bubbling away on the stove) and sow some seeds. We have been making paper pots in bulk for days now, but still we don't have enough. I need at least 100 for the sweetcorn, then probably 40 for squashes, and probably 100 for beans. Oh well, keeps us off the streets!

My first sowings in the paper pots proved that they are a great success. Because of all the folds, the newspaper is quite thick, so I think they will last until potting on or planting out. So far a tray of 'Red Epicure' broad beans, peas 'Early Onwards', and broadbeans 'Bunyards Exhibition' have been sown in the paper pots. I am going to sow some celeriac in these paper pots, swedes and florence fennel to plant out on the allotment in March/April. I find these three things I struggle with. Celeriac, although grows great and provides us with useable knobbly roots, they are only ever fist size and I wouldn't mind some biggies so I can just use one in a soup rather than 3. Fennel always without fail, bolts. It is a veggie I have never even tried, but it looks so wonderful and I have so many recipes for it that I am determined! I hope that by growing in the paper they will suffer no root disturbance, the paper should retain the moisture for a while and I can get them out when they are at optimum planting size. And swedes. Wow are they ugly suckers! Again, they struggle on my plot and seem to be all kneck and no bum! I would love these for winter use so again, starting them off in pots to mollycoddle them a little longer.
I used to sow these sorts of seeds in loo roll inners, but I have found that they become covered in white mould very quickly, and some varieties do not rot down, they seem to have a rather nasty slimey glue used in their manufacture. Now I know some people will worry about the chemicals used in newspapers and their inks, but I feel that it is such a small amount in the great scheme of things, I am not worried, and this is a trial, if the pots don't work, well, back to loo roll inners next year!

The spuds are all out in their honeycomb holders. I need to make another batch as the pink fur apple spuds are all rather crammed in and I would prefer to give them some more space. I will try to remember later to write down the different spuds I have this year. I bought them from Thompson & Morgan, and just tried to find the collection on their website, but can't find spuds anywhere. I guess as they have now sent them all out, they no longer need to waste website room advertising them. I have saved half of my compost heap on the allotment to use when I come to planting out my spuds. I plan to dig a trench and line the bottom with some lovely compost, then back fill with some more compost and finish with soil. Hopefully, this will help water retention as I have no access to water on the allotment other than that I can plunder from Mother Nature. I am yet to harvest big baking spuds....mine are all a good size, great for chips or roasties, but I do love a big jacket tatty with a large knob of butter and plenty of black pepper!

I have started to sow my tomatos, and chillis and aubergines will be next over the weekend. This year, rather than go mad and have 6 or 7 of each different plant, I am starting just sowing 2 seeds per variety, for example, I have sown 2 or Galina, 2 of Sweet Millions, 2 of Missippi Pink Love Apple, 2 Gardeners Delight, etc. I will do the same with the peppers. I would rather have loads of different than a few of the same. I love to see all the different fruits and different tastes, and they all get used up so there is never a waste!

As I sat in the conservatory sowing my seeds and enjoying getting compost under my nails (and all over the floor!) I looked at my orchids. Do you think these buds will ever burst? They started budding up in November and I hoped they were going to look amazing for Christmas, but the way things are going, I will be enjoying them on Valentines Day!

An update......Oxford marmalade all made. I was worried that it would be sweet and sickly because to 3Ib of fruit there was 6 Ib's of sugar, however, it is dark amber and wonderfully bitter and orangey. Fabulous. Roll on breakfast!

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