Vegetable sowing is a go!

It has been so cold, and so dark, and so wet, that we’ve barely considered getting our vegetable seeds into the ground. However, despite what the weather might be saying, it is March, so we bought everything into the warm house instead and potted up on the kitchen table.

We’ve got our first load of tomatoes, chillis, peppers, aubergines, and our herbs in – everything that will be bought on in the greenhouse initially. It still feels too cold to be planting outside – that will wait another week!

We used the spreadsheet we put together in January to make sure we didn’t miss anything. We also had all of the seeds ready filed in our new seed box that David’s mother gave us for Christmas, which will make successional sowing easier this year.

I picked up these great seed trays in the garden centre when they were on half price, they allow you to take out individual pots and make transplanting a doddle. Last year we ended up breaking some of the delicate little seedlings because the trays we used allowed all of their roots to tangle, but these should make a big difference.

From waste land to greenhouse

And here it finally is! Three weeks ago we promised that we’d tackle the last major bit of the garden that needs attention – the far end, which looked like this:

FullSizeRender

Well, we did, and now look – our greenhouse is complete! The guys from Swallow Greenhouses arrived on Tuesday and we couldn’t believe how quickly it went up. In just half an hour it was complete – it really made our two day foundations project seem a bit pathetic!

So we were really looking forward to getting planting, but there are a few things we needed to do first. David got some left over wood from our coldframe project and we built a skin to go on the inside of the greenhouse, to protect it from the soil and to create a raised bed.

Then we dug a channel, which will be the pathway. We’ve created three beds because the greenhouse is pretty wide. Next we plan to build a red brick path and to use bricks for the fronts of the raised beds too – Lee suggested this as they’ll absorb heat in the day and release it at night – our very own storage¬†heating system! When we get around to that we’ll blog it here :)

Boring January!

January. I hate hate hate it. Its dark, wet and cold but all of the Christmas things that usually make winter bearable have finished and been packed away and there is this ridiculous pressure to be healthy and start new things – when all you want to do is curl up with a duvet and a chocolate pudding.

And I don’t think you can really do much in the garden in January either, especially if you work every given moment of daylight and rely on a few snatched hours on the weekend between the torrential downpours and the howling gales.

I’m really impatient for the spring to arrive so I can get planting. I even went and just stood in the potting shed for an hour the other day, it was too wet to be outside, but I felt closer to my garden. I went to the garden centre and bought the trays I’ll need in a few months time, and cleaned my tools (again). And twiddled my thumbs.

One useful task we’ve achieved though (thanks to reddit/r/gardening for the tip!) was to sit down and properly plan our vegetable planting for the season ahead. Last year we didn’t have the luxury, we only got our raised beds up in April and then it was a case of just growing anything we could that late in the spring. This year however we have time (so so much of it) on our hands when we can’t be digging or potting or sowing, so we sat and did the thing we like next best in the world – we made spreadsheets! :D

First we made a list of all of the vegetables we most like to eat – I think a lot of people grow things because they think they should but what is the point if you don’t enjoy eating it afterwards? Then we got out all of the seeds we’ve bought over recent months in dribs and drabs on wet-day trips to the garden centre.

We went through and matched those we want to plant to the list in our spreadsheet, and marked in when they need to be sown, where they need to be sown, when to transplant and when to harvest. We split items into those that will be grown outdoors (even if started in the greenhouse) and those that will be in the greenhouse*. We’re still buying seeds so they’re not complete yet :-)

Outdoors:

Planting schedule

 

Greenhouse:

 

Greenhouse planting

We didn’t quite go to the extent of our lovely but very committed gardening neighbour Mike who has a plan down to the day, the hour, the air pressure at which he’ll plant everything, but I think our graph will help keep us on track and make sure everything goes in when it is meant to. It will also help us with successional sowings, which we didn’t really manage last year.

Then we drew a map of our vegetable garden and what is currently in each plot. As you’ll see, we’re still getting plenty of veg out of the plot, from brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale and leeks to pak choi, turnips, kohlrabi and winter salads. But we’re going to use this map to plan what can come out so that we can add in the manure the fourth bed is filled with from last year, before spring planting.

Bed planner

So – how to fill a boring January? You could clean your potting shed, polish your tools, sort your pots and seed trays, purchase seeds, build a bird table, clear paths, fix guttering or – you could make a spreadsheet! :D

Here’s to spring!

* We don’t as yet own a green house. David plans to build one in February…

** A big shout out to reddit/r/gardening for keeping me sane and giving me some great ideas and reading over the winter months :-)

Fun with ferns

We’ve finally sorted out the side of our pond. After clearing the pond back last winter we thought we’d wait to see what popped up around the edges. Turns out there were huge numbers of lily bulbs and they were really too tall for the space, so we’ve taken them out and replaced them with a selection of different ferns. We also have our first flowering lily pad on the pond!