And sow it begins…

Saturday 9 January was officially the first growing day of the year for me. I absolutely love growing from seed, so it is always a joy to put the first seeds of the year into compost and imagine what they will turn in to.

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My late dad’s propagator

It’s too early to plant most things, but January is definitely the time to start off peppers and chillies chez snail. So, Mr Snail retrieved the propagator from the loft. It was my dad’s and I’m sure that had he still been with us he would have appreciated the fact that it is still in use. I dug out the ethically -produced coir pots that I sourced last year plus a few small plastic pots and sorted through my seed collection. Then I made some new plant labels by cutting up some old plastic milk bottles that I have been saving for just this job.

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A lot of frozen chillies

The fantastic conditions in the limery meant that the 2015 chilli crop was HUGE. We have pots and pots of hot sweet chilli sauce and in the freezer I have a 2 litre tub completely full of whole chillies. So, in 2016, I plan only to grow one variety – my favourite – Lemon Drop. Of course some of the plants from last year may survive the winter (sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t) and so we may have more than this, but frankly, we won’t need them.

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Seeds sown

I have focused instead this year on sweet peppers. I had some seeds left over from last year for two varieties: Kaibi and Nova. The former did well in 2015, but we got very poor germination from the latter. Anyway, I have planted all the left-over seeds and we shall see. In addition I have one variety – Sheepsnose – from Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library, and I have decided to try out two new varieties from Tamar Organics: Yolo’s Wonder and Corno di Torro Rosso. I’m hoping to identify varieties that like the conditions we can provide so that I know what to focus on in future years.

Few other crops benefit from being planted this early in the year, but I did sow a few lettuce seeds to grow indoors… the last of our 2015 lettuce was consumed by slugs in early December. Now I await germination… I can hardly wait to see those green shoots.

Autumn Bounty

Despite a garden full of builders and no indoor growing space until late July, the autumn is proving to be bountiful chez snail. One of the raised beds spent much of the early summer completely covered in building materials, but clearly the tiny potatoes remaining after last years harvest loved the conditions. We went from this:

There's a bed somewhere under there

There’s a bed somewhere under there

to this:

Not bad in two months

Not bad growth!

in a just a couple of months. Resulting in this 615g monster:

Wow!

Wow!

and hopefully many more to harvest, as this was just one very close to the surface that Max would have ‘harvested’ otherwise. We will let them continue growing until the tops die back before we dig the bed over and can see our final crop.

Meanwhile, inside the limery, chillies and sweet peppers abound, tomatoes are ripening and we’ve had a couple of large courgettes from the plant sown in July,. I’ve potted up the plants from the courgette seeds sown in August and we are crossing our fingers for a few fruits from those a bit later in the autumn.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the chillies ripen (they have started and the pyramid chillies are already hot) and that the younger courgette plants mature, but even if they don’t, we’ll have had an amazing end to the season, including a couple of months when we haven’t had to buy any sweet peppers.

As to future crops, we found this very promising ginger root in the local organic shop the other day:

It’s now been planted and we’re hoping for good things. In addition, the passionflower has taken off:

Up, up and away

Up, up and away

And I’ve sown some more lettuce in a big tray that can be brought indoors when the weather cools. So, no shortage of fresh goodness here.

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