Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Sow coriander every three to four weeks, in situ, for a continual supply. Sprinkle seedsover compost and cover with 1cm of compost before watering well. thin out seedlings to around 5cm between plants.
Coriander - Lazy Allotment:

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Lettuces to grow-
Cos Lettuce: Little Gem - 'Little Gem' will do well from an early sowing and certainly is always worth finding room for in the garden, 
Lobjoits Green- 'Lobjoits Green Cos' is a better cos, much bigger, rather slower to develop and with a shorter season, but probably the best lettuce that you can grow or eat,
Rouge d’Hiver- 'Rouge d'Hiver' is a cos that will grow in cooler conditions (although not really over winter).
Butterhead Lettuce: Tom Thumb, Merveille de Quatre Saisons.
Looseleaf: Salad Bowl, Red Oak Leaf.
Red Lettuce: Red Salad Bowl, Aruba.
Iceberg: Mini Green.
Winter Lettuce: Winter Density, All the Year Round -  'All the Year Round' is, as the name implies, hardy and adaptable enough to crop most of the year, and while not the best you can grow, it's a lot better than almost anything you can buy, especially in that spring gap when there is precious little else in the garden.

Dont plant too many seeds all at the same time and far too close together. 

Lettuce pray.
Lettuce germinate at surprisingly low temperatures; many will fail to germinate once the soil temperature rises above 25C - which you often get from mid-June to August. This can lead to a dearth of lettuce in August, as mature plants suddenly go to seed and there is a lack of young plants to replace them, because germination has been poor in the previous month. There are ways around this. Sow in the afternoon so that the vital germination phase coincides with the cool of night. Sow in seed trays and put them in the shade, and cover with glass or newspaper to keep them cool until the seedlings appear. And if the seeds are showing no signs of life after a week, put them in the fridge for 24 hours. In fact, late August- and September-sown lettuce do very well because the nights are getting cooler.

If you are sowing directly into the soil (something I never do nowadays, as slugs attack the very young seedlings in my garden), water the drill before sowing to cool the soil down. And make sure you sow into a shaded part of the garden.

Lettuce needs cool temperatures to germinate, and may become dormant if the soil is above 20 C. They like a rich soil with good drainage.
Most lettuce is best sown in drills about in deep as thinly as possible. Water the drill before you sow the seed. Flick the soil back over the sown drill and mark it. Thin as soon as the seeds can be handled, leaving an initial inch between seeds, then use the young lettuce alternately until the final crop has 4in space between each plant. I now sow all my lettuce individually in soil blocks or plugs in a cold frame or a greenhouse and transplant when they are a few inches tall (they resist slug attacks).
The following have a good selection of seed: Simpson's Seeds (plus nine rare organic lettuce from France), 27 Meadowbrook, Old Oxted, Surrey RH8 9LT (tel/fax             01985 845 004      ); www.naturalhub.com/index.html- an excellent lettuce page; The Veg Finder (£5.99, The Henry Doubleday Association), 20 pages of lettuce; Ryton Organic Gardens, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry (            02476 303 517      ) has a huge range of salad crops growing under different organic conditions; Heritage Vegetables by Sue Stickland (£14.99, Gaia Books Ltd) is an excellent introduction to rarer and more interesting vegetables, including 20 lettuce.

DIY - Spiral Planter.

The Sweet Pea man of Hurstpierpoint.

Here’s what you do:

- Choose a sunny spot and hammer two stakes into the ground to make a row.
- Attach parallel wires between the posts, one at the bottom and one further up. Push canes into the soil every nine inches or so and secure them to the wires.
- Plant one sweet pea in front of each cane – the Sweet Pea man of Hurstpierpoint has actually colour-coordinated his along the rows, but you might choose to mix the really highly scented varieties like the grandifloras amongst the others (the Spencer varieties usually have bigger flowers but less scent) to encourage the pollinators who will be drawn by the fragrance and then travel around the rest of your plot.
- Let the plants grow to a foot tall and then select the strongest shoot and remove the rest – painful, but necessary if you want really strong flowers.
- Tie this shoot to the cane and regularly pinch off side shoots and tendrils – this step means the plant gives all its strength to the flowers rather than dissipating it in side shoots and climbing growth. You will need pea rings or horticultural tape to keep tying the primary shoot to the cane.
- When the plants have reached the top of the canes, untie them and lay the stems on the ground, parallel to the row.
- Now re-tie stems to a cane further along the row, so the tip of the plant reaches about a foot up its new cane.

This is why so many people grow sweet peas on the allotment rather than in the garden at home - it's just too much to be expected give up so much garden space for a single plant, but on your plot you can extend the cane row as far as you like without losing much in terms of space.
Allotment Blog: The Sweet Pea man of Hurstpierpoint: "The Sweet Pea man of Hurstpierpoint"

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Monday, 12 March 2012

Sweet Peas.

Simply by being late every season, I have discovered that what works best for me is to sow the seeds in a rich but well-drained potting compost in late February. They are ready to plant out by mid-May and will grow away strongly. It might mean we do not get flowers until midsummer, but what comes late stays late. We pinch out the growing tips when the plant is about 6in tall and still in pots, which makes for bushier growth.
If you want sheer scent then the best are the original 'Cupanis' or 'Matucanas'. Both are bicoloured, as is the pretty pink and white 'Painted Lady'. Unless it is described as having a strong scent then look beyond the most common Spencer varieties and go for the grandifloras Eckford developed, which will make up most of any so-called 'Old Fashioned Mix'. As I have said, in general I like the richer colours, such as 'Purple Prince', 'Black Knight', 'Midnight' and 'Black Diamond', as well as the red 'Gypsy Queen', 'Violet Queen', the magenta 'Annie B Gilroy', 'Henry Eckford', which is bright orange, and good scented whites like 'Dorothy Eckford', 'Royal Wedding' and the ivory 'Cream Southborne'. Finally, I do grow one sweet pea that is to all intents and purposes scentless - the species L chloranthus, which is only 5ft tall but an essential acidy yellow-lime green that we use to lighten up a dark corner.

Sweet Pea - 'Monty Don'
Sweet pea suppliers: Peter Grayson, 34 Glenthorne Close, Brampton, Chesterfield S40 3AR. Unwins Seeds, Histon, Cambridge 

 Roger Parsons Sweet Peas - Links: 'via Blog this'
Sweet peas prefer cool, damp conditions, so a regular soak is essential in a hot summer. 

Friday, 2 March 2012


Planting: Fruit tree - 25 feb 
Chitting Potatoes: 28 feb

- Leeks
- Celeriac 
- Early Peas (grown in situ)
A good tip for broad beans and peas is to sow a short row every three weeks between now and April, providing a constant succession of crops between June and October. For the first sowing of peas, choose a wrinkled pea such as 'Celebration', a delicious petit pois type, or try sugar snaps or mangetouts. A real beauty is 'Carouby de Mausanne', a C19th French mangetout with the added benefit of great good looks with lilac flowers.

Under Cloche:  radish, lettuce,  dill.

Parsnips -  come up, digg up.

Vegetable seeds