The unseasonably good weather has given my little early tattie experiment a good start. Although only one of the pair of extras I planted sprouted the one which has come up is becoming quite a monster – growing another inch or two every time I look away from it! I think the one which hasn’t come up might have been a greenhouse casualty – perhaps it had it’s buds knocked off when everything came tumbling down. Either way, I’m hoping this helps spread the ‘glut’ of new potatoes out a bit – I love them but there’s only so many two people can eat at a time.
The others, planted earlier this month, are just starting to poke their heads up – with the second lot of epicure and the salad blues ahead of the yetholm gypsy which is barely peeking above the soil line. The salad blue plants are particularly pretty – most of their sprouting leaves are a deep purple-blue but some are green tinged with purple.
Something else I planted early this year was squash. I didn’t want to leave it until the last minute again as I had very little luck getting any form of squash to sprout last year and the few that did died when quite small. The germination rate was terrible from the seeds I got – even when I decided to pre-germinate them on wet paper for my last batch – I think I got three tiny plants from ~14 seed! This year, however, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’d picked up a cheap packet of ‘Sweet Dumpling’ from Homebase to practice on and ‘Boston’ with my seeds from the Real Seed Catalogue.
The ‘Sweet Dumpling’, unsurprisingly, gave me only one sprout from two seeds but the addition of bottom heat managed to get that one little plant to come up and it’s being nursed on the living room window. It has a few leaves now but it’s still very small and not that healthy looking – much like my courgettes and butternut squash last year. The ‘Boston’ squash couldn’t be more different – it had the exact same conditions as the sweet dumpling but both seeds germinated (fast!) and they are very vigorous little monsters:
Even just the seed leaves are almost as long as my thumb! I’m hoping the difference in size is simply because the ‘Sweet Dumpling’ variety is a smaller fruit and that I get to try some of them as they’re supposed to be a very nice variety. I have been very impressed in general, though, with the germination rates and vigour of the seeds/seedlings that have come via the Real Seed Catalogue – whatever their methods they seem to work well and I’ve had great luck with all of their plants. It’s not just learning, either – I’ve still some seed left over from last year and, on the whole, the commercial seed has not impressed me much. I’m not against hybrid or ‘agricultural’ seed overall – both sides have many good points – but when I get better results from organic, non-hybrid seed growers then that’s where I’ll buy my seed. Hybrid vigour doesn’t go for much if half the seed never germinates in the first place!
The greenhouses are doing a lot better now – we’ve had no accidents since the second one was tied and they’re getting to be quite full. Eventually a lot of their ‘inhabitants’ will need to move out for the tomatoes, but we’re not quite there yet. Quite a few of the plants in there will hopefully be going into hanging planters which Andy got me for my birthday back in February – I’m hoping to hang them on the fences to add yet more colour into the garden. Veggies are great, and I’ve even got a few colourful varieties this year, but I am looking forward to some flowers in amongst them. Last year I’d say the marigolds really stole the show in the garden, despite being there mostly to help ward off some pests and add the occasional petals to a salad. They were so bright and cheerful in a sea of green that you couldn’t help but be drawn to looking at them. Given the number of self-sown ones I don’t think I’ll be lacking for their colour this year either and they should be joined by a mix of fuchsias, begonias, petunias, trailing pelargoniums, cosmos, sunflowers and nasturtiums as well as a few tubs of one of my favourite outdoor flowers – gladioli.