At least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.
When the time to sow seeds, nurture seedlings and watch our gardens grow emerges from the hibernating slough of stasis which has surrounded us for weeks and weeks and weeks.
Our household comprises only two permanent human inhabitants so one packet of seeds is too many for a single growing season. So, first to see the light of day are the opened packets carefully stored since last year.
And here we have our familiar performers: Runner Beans both red (Scarlet Emperor) and white (White Lady) and multicoloured (St. George); Broad Beans ‘The Sutton’; French ‘bush’ beans variety ‘Cupidon’; Carrot ‘Early Nantes 2’ and ‘Autuumn King Improved’; Radish ‘French Breakfast 3’; Leeks ‘Elephant’; three different kinds of Garlic; and Sweet Peas with Old Fashioned Fragrance which I always grow amongst my beans to encourage pollinators.
This year I am not growing potatoes as husband does not eat many and I eat none now being on a special Auto Immune Protocol which in my case requires non participation in members of the Nightshade family. Also they do take up a lot of room which I would rather use for other things. The same reasons lie behind my not growing Tomatoes, Aubergines or Peppers: he does not like eating Aubergines or Peppers much. I do, but cannot:(
In place of potatoes I tend to eat Swede, Turnip, Kohl Rabi and Carrots, so they are figuring high on my list of veg to grow this year although I find that I am having trouble getting my carrots to germinate nowadays (although I used to have no trouble years ago) and also my healthy slug population likes to live inside my swedes and turnips unless I dig them up really young. But, the Kohl Rabi did really well and I have high hopes of it for an over-wintering crop.
So I sent off for a few packets of new seeds:one does have to have some indulgences. However it was very hard to choose and I could have bought at least 20 packets. I restrained myself to six. They came in a small, brown cardboard envelope,
containing further inconspicuous packets with no bright pictures or expensive packaging.
Because these are from a specialist seed company which tries to keep costs down, does not charge much for postage for those who are unwaged and which supplies seed which is rarely available due to EU regulations forbidding sale of certain varieties. By paying one penny a year one becomes a member of a Club which allows all of us members to ‘swap’ seeds that we save ourselves and ‘contribute’ to the Club’s funds. Last year I had great success with their Asparagus Kale which is absolutely delicious and a gourmet change from the ubiquitous curly kale. I also had great success with their French Beans.
So, what have I chosen this year? Another variety of Kohn Rabi ‘Gigant’ “a huge white variety that makes large bulbs up to 4kg in weight. Traditionally grown for overwintering storage as it does not go ‘woody’ but is also great for fresh use from Spring sowing“.
Two kinds of carrot, ‘Touchon’ and ‘Manchester Table’. The first is “A quick-growing heirloom variety of the orange carrot from France dating from the late 1700s. It has a fine texture and an excellent sweet flavour”; the second is “an old English culinary variety. Strong plants with full-flavoured orange roots finally back in the catalogue after a six year project to regenerate it from a seedbank sample.” We are urged to save our own seed from this one especially as there is still so little around. This year I am going to try to germinate my carrots in modules and plant them out, as sowing directly into position is getting me nowhere.
Then I am going heavy on the green leaves:
an Italian Endive ‘Bianca Ricci da Taglio’ “A unique Italian Endive bred to be used as a Lettuce. Looks and tastes like Lettuce but grows at lower temperatures and non-bitter as long as kept cool.”
and two lots for next Autumn/Winter: Claytonia/ Miners’ Lettuce/Winter Purslane “Native to North America but naturalised in Europe since 1749 to eat both raw and cooked”: and Corn Salad/Lambs Lettuce ‘Coquille de Louviers’.
You may have noticed a slight emphasis on varieties which can cope with cold, or heat, or drought, or wet. That way I hope to get at least one crop of each kind of vegetable.
Unfortunately this did not work last year with my strawberries: I have now grown and experimented with nine varieties to cover all types of weather and they have had the most favoured position in the garden, but few berries and those were not a good flavour. I am sooo disappointed. They were all chosen by recommendation from gardening blogs, gardening fora, and books concentrating on taste. Clearly my own particular soil and micro- climate does not favour them. Shall I press on, or just give up? Not sure yet, but it is five years now that I have allowed my most valued cultivatable plot to be devoted to the art of growing strawberries.
Last year I ran out of patience and sowed my seeds too early: by the time I could plant out my seedlings they were leggy and soft. I expect I have waited too late this time. Ah well, that’s gardening for you:)
I wish much pleasure to all my gardening friends, enjoy yourselves. It’s Spring!!!