Posted in : The veg patch
After getting bitch slapped for having the most un-profound New Years post on the internet, I thought I should defend myself .... mainly because I can't afford a solicitor .... soooo, here's my shiny new New Years post ... pretend you read it days ago.
So, my New Year kicked off months ago when I found out I had a smidge more room to grow in next year ( which is now this year ) than I normally do. No more playing around with a couple of small beds and just bringing to the table the successful bits, this year I've got to be FAR more serious .... and I'm not renowned for being shit-hot at serious ... Anyway, I was daft enough to ask, so the least I can do is make sure it all happens close enough to a game plan to declare a technical draw ... With this in mind I instantly went out and bought enough seeds to sink a small tectonic plate by several inches ... and in true blonde fashion I charged them to Barrys credit card ( must remember to pay him back ) .... and all of this happened before my holiday ... in october .... and so my new year began.
Shortly after the seeds arrived I came to 2 conclusions .... 1) I'd bought faaaar to many seeds, and 2) It was time to sod off on holiday .... anyway, after I came back, it was time to start planning the new year. Even with all the extra space that we have to grow in this year, the Mighty V and I decided that we need to make more use of our space at home to grow food in, as well as making as good a use of the field as we could. So we decided to slap in a couple of "raised" beds to define what was growing where. Being the total cheapskate that I am, I nicked a few pallets from the field and slapped enough planks together to convince the Mighty V that they were the best thing since sliced bread .... not much of an achievement when you consider the fact that she's blonde as well, but you take your victories where you can huh?
We promptly slapped some garlic and shallots into them, that the Mighty V had bought from somewhere, some of them even have labels, and then we sat for a bit and watched them ... well, we actually watched the cat and decided that it *really* needed to find a new toilet ... so I froze my arse off one day and put a net over them, that pretty much killed any "and last week I was swimming in the sea" mentality that was lingering, vainly, in my mind ... ahh well, at least it wasn't snowing.
It didn't really, that was just to cheer scott up .... it's to bloody cold for snow here ... anyway, a couple of weeks later the first "short 'n' green" bits, that'll eventually turn into summat we put on the table, arrived ... how cool, I can already taste it, even though it's going to be about August before they're ready. Continuing with my "I'm an optimist" / "make a concerted effort" mentality, yesterday I slapped some chilli/pepper seeds in .... I'm convinced they'll grow this early ... but just in case I only planted half of them .... but that's still 77 seeds! 11 each of 7 different varieties, Lemon Drop, Pretty In Purple, Orange Bell, N. Napia and 3 "unknown" ones that someone on the allotment forums sent me. I know 77 sounds a lot for an 8' x 6' greenhouse, but they have a poor germination rate so I'm only expecting about 1/2 of them to make it ... if not then I guess I'll just have to sneak a few into the potting shed.
During the next week or so I'll be trying to spark off some very early tomatoes, which means that I need to remember to turn the heated beds on in the potting shed. If it works then I should be harvesting by the end of May, which is a fair tad ahead of last years which we started harvesting at the end of September. For those of you who are into names and numbers I'm hoping to grow 20 Rose de Berne, 10 Galina and 10 Gold Medal, all of which are vine types ( you can see pictures of them on Real Seed ). After a couple of conversations with an ex-commercial grower I've decided to try and grow them the way they do. Basically it involves growing them up a string and then when they reach the top you *should* have cropped the lower ones, so you undo the string, lower the plant and move it along the bed to where the next one is planted. Then you just tie the string up again and do the same for all the plants which gives them all another foot and a half to grow. It's a technique called layering and is also used by professional/commercial sweet pea growers.
Besides sparking off 77 chilli peppers, 40 tomato plants and a very optimistic basil plant I'm also going to be sparking off a few hundred onion seeds this week. I've never grown onions from seed before so this'll be interesting. The good news is that a member of the allotment forums called vegmandan is pretty good at growing onions and, like the rest of the nutters members, he's happy to share his knowledge if you ask him .... and quite often even when it's not asked for If you follow the link then the observant amongst you will notice that his New Year started in October as well .... so it's not just me that's strange.
Other things that need doing in the next couple of weeks are closing up the small greenhouse so it can be used as a cold frame for storing all the pot tubers that are currently occupying the heated beds. Later on I'll also be using it to harden off the onions before they get slapped in their final bed in the main greenhouse and then, sometime around the end of March / April the tomatoes will go in .... if they've survived that long. I also need to get the main greenhouse cleared up and ready for the dahlia season as well, so that's 500+ tubers to dig up and the stakes to pull out, and it really needs to be all done and dusted before the middle of the month as we'll be sparking off next years plants in February, damn the potting sheds gonna be a smidge crowded! On top of all that, I really need to clear out our own lil greenhouse and give everything a good scrub so it's ready for the new season as well.
Hopefully by the end of the month all of the greenhouses will be ready for the new season and my seedlings should be taking their first glimpses of daylight, although some of the daylight will be coming from bulbs because the suns a smidge crap at making an appearance for more than a few hours a week at this time of year. You can be sure that I'll take lots of pictures for you to be bored by and, if I pull my finger out, I might also get round to finishing coding my seed site which I'm hoping to use to track my progress through the growing year in a way that the blogs probably couldn't cope with. There's still a long way to go with it though, so don't hold your breaths
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2009 starts earlier in the year for me, lots of stuff to be planted for the next season ;)