Monday, 9 December 2019

In My Seed Box For 2020 - Lettuce

Lettuce is something we eat a lot of and something that I have not been particularly good at growing in the past. I've had a couple of good years, I can grow it but it gets eaten by slugs and snails and I tend to see very little in the way of harvest. 

No Lettuce at all grown in 2019 again a result of the leg injury, but this year I intend to try growing hydroponically in my second allotment greenhouse and as cut and come again at home.  

I'm going to blitz the slug and snail population and hopefully have some success. 

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

I have made the decision to throw anything that was in the zippy bag collection and Sow by 2018 away or use it in pots as cut and come again

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets

Elyburg                              -   200 Seeds -     99p   - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2017
Little Gem                          -  500 Seeds - £1.49     - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2017
Little Gen (Seed Tape)      -    Unknown  - £2.99    - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2017
Sweetheart                        -    200 Seeds - £1.89   - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2017
Winter Density                   - 1250 Seeds - £1.89    - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2017
Winter Gem                       -   150 Seeds - £2.69    - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017

Maureen                           -   175 Seeds - £2.99     - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2018
Mixed (200mm dia mats)        Unknown  - £2.99     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2018
Salad Bowl Red & Green -       ?   Free off Mag      - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2018
Tom Thumb (Butterhead) - 1500 Seeds - £1.30     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2018

Valmaine (C&CA)             -   800 Seeds - £2.99     - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2019

Cos                                    - 200 Seeds  - £2.29     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2020
Cos                                    - 200 Seeds  - £2.29     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2020
Little Gem                          -  750 Seeds - On Mag  - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2020
Rocket                               -  750 Seeds - On Mag  - Marshalls        - Sow By 2020
Tantan (Cos Lettuce)        -   200 Seeds - £2.29     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2020
Tantan (Cos Lettuce)        -   200 Seeds - £2.29     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2020

Note to Self - Pick up more Lettuce seeds in the Wilko Seed Sale or from Lidl in 2020

Alphabetical Listing
                                       Sowing            Harvest

Cos                              Mar - Jul           May - Oct
Elyburg                        Mar - Jul           Jun - Oct
Little Gem                    Mar - Jul           May - Oct  Mr Fothergill's
Little Gem                    Mar - Jul           May - Sep Thompson & Morgan
Maureen                      Mar - Jul           Jun - Oct
Rocket                         Mar - Sep          May - Oct
Sweetheart                  Mar - Jul            May - Oct
Tantan                         Mar - Jul           May - Oct
Tom Thumb                 Mar - Jul           May - Oct
Valmaine                     Mar - Jul           Jun - Sep
Winter Density            Sept- Jan          Jan - May  Greenhouse / Coldframe 
Winter Gem                Aug - April         Mar - Jul              Outdoors

Saturday, 7 December 2019

In My Seed Box For 2020 - Sprouts

Last Year with the crazy weather I lost my sowing of seedlings and then I had my leg injury so no home grown sprouts in 2019, however 2020 should hopefully be better currently I have nine varieties of sprouts in my seed box 
  • Bedford                         - 125 Seeds            - Thompson & Morgan  - Sow By 12/2019  
  • Bedford Darkmar          -                              - Just Seeds 
  • Brest F1                        -  40 Seeds - £3.45 - Mr Fothergill's              - Sow By 2020
  • Brodie  F1                     -  40 Seeds - £3.45 - Mr Fothergill's              - Sow By 2021
  • Cromwell F1                -   40 Seeds -            - Marshalls                     - Sow By 2021
  • Evesham Special         - 500 Seeds - £1.89 - Mr Fothergill's              - Sow By 2020
  • Fillbasket                      - 100 Seeds -    20p - Carters                        - Sow By 07/2021
  • Mongomery                  -  40 Seeds -            - Marshalls                    - Sow By 09/2019
  • Nelson F1                     -  40 Seeds -           - Mr Fothergill's              - Sow By 2020
Based on 10 plants in a bed I decided on 
  • Bedford
  • Brest F1
  • Brodie F1 
  • Evesham Special
  • Nelson F1                                    
So that's five varieties and I will need two of each to fill the 10 holes in the sprout weed membrane. 


Sow Indoors February - Mid March or Sow Outdoors Mid March to the end of April 
Plant Out in May 

A second sowing will take place 14 days - 21 days after the first, as Brassicas can curl up a die so easily if it becomes too warm as I found out in 2019


September - December depending on the variety. 


A Sprout is like a puppy, is for all year round not just for Christmas 

Thursday, 5 December 2019

In My Seed Box For 2020 - Water Melon

In 2019 two plot holders on our site Wally and John grew water melons out on the allotment and not under glass. Looking at the RHS Web site re Melons it states that there are three groups of sweet melons. Canteloupe melons, with their orange flesh are the best ones for us to grow in the UK. You can also grow honeydew types, which have firm yellow flesh, and musk melons, which must be grown in a greenhouse.

For best results in our cooler climate grow your melons in a greenhouse or coldframe, or against a sunny sheltered wall with a cloche covering them.

Now I’m not sure how a wall can be sunny and sheltered at the same time.

I’m going to have a go at growing Melons in 2020 and have bought a couple of packs of seeds


Melon Amarillo Oro produces a yellow skinned cantaloupe melon with superb sweet juicy refreshing flesh. Each of these delicious fruits weighs up to 5- 6 Ib (2 - 3 kg). Open pollinated. A pre-1870 heirloom variety from Spain.

Melons require high temperatures and humidity. In all but the very warmest areas cultivation is most successful in a greenhouse, or under cover of a cold frame.

Direct sow: February - April
Harvest: 100 days
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Temperature: 23 - 30 C
Depth: 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Plant spacing: 36 inches (90cm)


Sweet tasting and smaller fruited "Ice Box" type watermelon. Early and very productive with sweet, juicy, fine-textured, medium-red flesh and thin hard rind.
The round, 8 to 12 lb, dark green skinned melons grow 8 inches across. Ideal variety if space is limited, as this can be trailed on trellises and faster to ripen in short summers.
Drought Resistant
Ready to harvest about 75 days after seeding in favourable conditions. Can be grown outside in a warm, sheltered and sunny location, but for the most reliable crops under glass is best.

Days to Germination: 5-7
Days To Harvest: 75 in warm conditions
Planting Depth:12 – 25mm 1/2 to 1 inch
Spacing: 600mm 2 feet
Light: Sunny, Warm, Sheltered Location

·         Prepare soil by digging and incorporating liberal amounts of well-rotted compost or farmyard manure over-winter. Watermelons thrive in a sunny, warm location

·         Sow April to May 1cm (½in) deep, in 7cm (3.5in) pots of free-draining seed sowing mix. Place in a (propagator, airing cupboard) and keep at a temperature of around 20-25C (68-77F) until after germination, usually 5-7 days.

·         When first true leaves develop, transplant into 13cm (5in) pots for a few weeks.

·         Plant out 24 inches apart after carefully hardening off after all risk of frost in a warm sheltered position in full sun or for a more reliable crop under glass.

·         Water regularly and feed with liquid fertilizer every 14 days.

·         Pinch out growing point at the 4 leaf stage and train the laterals (side-shoots) along the row. Hand pollinate if required.

·         At harvest time, tap the watermelon with your knuckles, and if it sounds hollow, it's ripe.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

In My Seed Box For 2020 - Sweetcorn

My daughter Kelly declared early on in my ownership of an allotment that all sweetcorn grown was hers. Historically we have had some great harvests and the two types of corn that I have grown have been Swift and Lark F1. 2017 was extremely disappointing but it would appear that most people in the UK had a bad year with their Sweetcorn. 

In 2019 Marshalls sent me two different varieties to trial which were Alliance F1 and Tyson F1 again due to the leg injury I didn't get the infrastructure in to trial both varieties in 2019. 

The results with Marshalls Alliance F1 Hybrid Sweetcorn were nothing more than spectacular (see photos of harvest here) and I have to say they were the best Sweetcorn that I have grown to date 

This year I'm going to trial the Marshalls Tyson F1 Hybrid and hope they produce as good if not better than the Alliance F1 Hybrid, only time will tell.  

If I get the additional beds in on plot 1 I have Swift - 56 Seeds + two packets of unknown quantity as they came from multipacks and as long as I can grow them far enough away from each other to prevent cross pollination I may well sow these as well unless I'm offered any other new varieties to trial this year as a result of the Gardening Press Event 2020.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

In My Seed Box For 2020 - Marrow

Marrow is something that I have grown in the past, and have distributed widely to family, friend and neighbours & the Salvation Army. In 2017 I did not grow any marrows but my plot neighbours kept me supplied. In 2018 & 2019 I grew a few and distributed a some as usual.

With work on the infrastructure of Plot 1 I see Marrow being planted on the bottom end that the infrastructure is working it's way towards possibly over a weed membrane covering the bottom of the plot. This will hide the lack of infrastructure during the site inspections and make sure that I reach the required cultivation level.  

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

No seed found in zippy Bags

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets

Long Green Trailing - 10 Seeds - £1.95 - Jungle Seeds
Long Green Bush 2 - 20 Seeds - £2.19 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2019

The Jungle Seeds were expensive when you see how many seeds you are getting for your money, but I bought them because at the time I wanted Rapunzel tomatoes and decided the get the order to a level where I was not paying for post and packaging.

Beware Jungle Seeds their packs don't have any information about when they were packaged or when they should be Sown By, there is no information about when to sow and when to harvest. Plus the Rapunzel grew but looked nothing like the tomato that I had been watching Ray Browning grows on his YouTube channel. I will not be buying from Jungle Seeds again.

Monday, 2 December 2019

In My Seed Box For 2020 - Radish

With the leg injury in 2019 it was the first year that I had not grown radish. The plan is to eat more salad next year in an effort or reduce my weight and assist my diabetes. And I did begrudge buying radish from the shops in 2019

I see these as not really needing a bed of their own but as squatters/ row markers at the end of other vegetables like Parsnips that take a time to germinate and show where they have been planted.  

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

Bright and Spicy Mix – 400 Seeds - £1.99 – Unwins – Best Before 09/2019
Cherry Belle              – 300 Seeds -      99p – Wilko  – Best Before 09/2016
Scarlet Globe          – 1000 Seeds - £1,99 - Thompson & Morgan Sow By 12/2019

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets

Breakfast Mix          –   300 Seeds -           - Marshalls - Sow By 09/2021   
Eiszapfen                                                   - Lidl – Sow By 12/2016
Flamboyant 3            400 Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2019
French Breakfast 3 – 1000 Seeds - £1.89 - Unwins - Sow By 07/2020
French Breakfast 3 – 1000 Seeds - £1.35 - Mr Fothergill - Sow By 07/2017
French Breakfast 2 –   100 Seeds -    20p - Carters Pound Stretcher - Sow By 07/2020        
Icicle                         300 Seeds -    40p – Wilko - Sow By 2015
Scarlet Globe          – 1000 Seeds - £1,99 - Thompson & Morgan Sow By 12/2019
Sparkler 3               – 1000 Seeds – GYO Mag - Mr Fothergill - Sow By 2020

Alphabetical Listing

                                            Sowing            Harvest
Breakfast Mix                     Jan – Oct         Mar - Nov 
Bright and Spicy Mix          Mar – Sept       April -  Oct
Cherry Belle                       Mar – July        May - Oct
Eiszapfen                           Mar – Sept       April -  Oct
Flamboyant 3                     May – July         July – Sept
French Breakfast 3            Mar – Sept       April -  Oct - Unwins
French Breakfast 3            Feb – Sept       April – Oct - Mr Fothergill
Icicle (Long White)             Feb – Sept       April – Oct
Scarlet Globe                     May – July         July – Sept
Sparkler 3                          Feb – Sept        April – Oct

Debatable if to discard the Cherry Belle or not but I'm going to sow and see what the Germination rate is out of interest

Typical Notes about Radish 
Suitable for indoor and outdoor growing
Sow at 4 Week intervals
Prefers a moist well drained soil in full sun

Sowing Instructions

Sow thinly, 10mm (1/2” deep) deep in drills 300mm (12inch) apart in soil which has been raked to a fine tilth. Water the ground regularly especially during dry periods.

Growing Instructions

When large enough to handle, thin out seedlings to 25mm or 1 inch apart. Kepp plants cool and moist to prevent running to seed.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Planning and Reviewing December in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last five years for December 

There is not a whole lot of growing that happens in December, its normally blustery, cold, rainy, and overcast. It's the only time of the year with no sowing programme, though some enthusiasts and trophy hunters will ignore convention. I can't shut my plot down completely because there is too much tidying and maintenance to do on plot 1A and I have infrastructure works to undertake on plot 1 

2012 - My First December and third month of owning an allotment was mainly spent cutting down the weeds and exposing what lay underneath and discovering all manor or debris to dispose off. There was a lot of burning of weeds in the two incinerators 

2013 - Mainly clearing up the plot, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts 

2014 - Mainly clearing up the plot, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts 

2015 - Mainly clearing up the 2nd plot on Spencer Road, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts, carrots and parsnips  

2016 - Two plots on two different allotment sites Mill Green and Spencer Road, Installing infrastructure, collecting leafs, Walking Onions in greenhouse, harvesting sprouts, manure and leafs on beds, making planting membrane sheets, High winds blow over Keith's shed. Shed Break-ins and meeting the police on Spencer Road.
2017 - Family health matters mean very little achieved on the plot. Leaf collection and sprout harvest.

2018 - Lots of rain and not a great deal of work possible this month. Grow Your Own Tomato Seed Circle package arrives. 30th December and I was clearing the sweetcorn from the beds and putting to sleep for winter.  

Below is the to do list in no particular order and catching up with what actually happened in November and what has slipped. 

Mill Green - Plot 1A
  • Dig up two and a half beds of potatoes Done
  • Clear Bed 1 of weeds and cover - Done
  • Clear Bed 3 of potatoes weeds and cover Done
  • Clear Bed 2 of Cabbages and cover - TBD
  • Clear the Runner Beans - Done 
  • Clear Bed 9 of weeds and cover Done
  • Clear Beds 7 & 8 of the sweetcorn roots and cover for Winter - TBD
  • Clear the storage area to the side and the back of the shed - TBD
  • Cut back the tree over the shed so it can be re roofed - TBD
  • Remove and dispose of Corex on the roof - TBD   
  • Temporary Bitumen the shed roof where felt is missing - TBD  
  • Re felt the roof of the shed - TBD   
  • Fix the potting Bench - TBD
  • Clear the Wasp Nest in greenhouse 1A - To Be Done once the wasps have gone! 
  • Rhubarb Bed to be created - clearance of weeds in current location and move when ready
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing and looking better all the time 
  • Clear area behind the Greenhouse - TBD
  • Weeding - Never ending job   
  • Clear Seating Area - TBD
  • New Fix the Runner Bean Frames to the wall - TBD

Mill Green - Plot 1
  • As much infrastructure works as the weather will allow - Subject to rain
  • Woodchip the greenhouse area and the path in front - Done 
  • Install the kerb edging along the bottom of Plot 1 - TBD
  • Clear the weeds and install a 600mm margin around the perimeter of the plot - TBD
  • Woodchip the Margin around the perimeter of the plot. - TBD
  • Clear fire area - TBD
  • Have fires to clear the rubbish - TBD
  • Start digging and weeding the Beds and Paths - 2 New beds and paths in
  • Lay the paving for the greenhouse - Done 
  • Erect the greenhouse - Timbers Cut for base need to be treated  
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing and looking better all the time
  • Remove remaining Hawthorne bushes from the wall - TBD
  • Stock pile Hawthorne to dry before burning - TBD 
  • Stockpile Timber ready for burning  - Ongoing
  • Install Flower Beds - Done   
  • Plant Spring Bulbs - TBD
  • New Install two new beds and paths in December - TBD
  • Planning - Ongoing
  • Catalogue Seeds - Ongoing  
  • None at the moment.- Add when remembered.

To Do List

Apple - Prune Trees 

Tidying & Covering for Winter

I again had help this morning for a couple of hours from Emma. It's nice to have her working beside me and to have her company, and we work well as a team. We managed to dig up the last of the potatoes in bed 3, weed the couch grass and bind weed & cover and put a few additional beds 1 & 9 to sleep for Winter. 

Bed one is covered with its Winter Blanket, I'm short on soft bricks at the moment as all the milk bottles are degrading at the same time and the sand needs drying and new bottles filled with sand. A job for when the old greenhouse has been cleared and the new greenhouse has it's timber base and is finally clad. 

Beds 3 cleared of potatoes and bed 9 and weeded and both covered with their winter Blankets and blue water pipe used to hold the weed membrane down on the bed   

Old / New potatoes harvested and empty buckets of compost and coir added to the narrow bed nearest the main path. The buckets have been stacked against the wall and the area behind the bed is clear for pulling back the weed membrane and digging 

Raised bed nearly filled with compost and Coir 

Panorama Down the Plot 

Panorama Up the plot from the side path.

Two sacks of leafs from home added to the leaf bin and the levels had reduced. Bed 3 to be cleared of the netting and hoops and the cabbages to be added to the daleks at a future visit .
All in all an very productive day, and again come home with more potatoes, there are only a couple of more buckets to be emptied and they will have been cleared. 

Saturday, 30 November 2019

In My Seed Box For 2020 - Beetroots

Note to self - In 2018 I made a note to myself not to buy anymore Beetroot seeds in the Wyevale sale for the next two years, you don't need them, or at least if you do then don't buy so many packs, be selective just go for the Boltardy unless you happen upon different coloured say yellow beetroots! and make sure they have a Sow by date of at least 2021.

in 2018 at 10p a pack from Poundland I could not resist and bought 2 packs of Globe 2 (100 seeds per pack). I also could not resist a couple of cheap packs from Wilko at 25p a pack and then when they dropped to 10p a pack, well it would be rude not to buy a few more now wouldn't it?

In 2019 there was no Wyevale 50p Sale as they have been bought out by another company and I didn't get anything from Wilko which means no more packs of seeds?  Due to my leg injury I had help sowing 105 directly into a bed, the variety was in date but very few germinated and even less actually grew, and those that did I let get too large and woody and they ended up as compost fodder. 

In 2020 back to starting them off in modules or plug plants and successive sowings so that I can pickle in small batches.   

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

No seeds at the start of 2020

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2018 - 2020

Alto F1                     - 150  Seeds - £2.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2020
Detroit 2                  -  300  Seeds - £2.29 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2020
Detroit 6 Rubidus    -  200  Seeds - £2.69 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2019
Globe 2                    - 200  Seeds - £0-20 - Carters                       - Sow By 2020
Kestrel                     - 150  seeds - £2.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2019
Moneta                    - 150  seeds - £2.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2020
Perfect 3                 -  275  Seeds - £1.65 - Mr Fothergill's            - Sow By 2018
Red Ace F1             - 150  Seeds - £2.69 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2020
Solo                         - 200  Seeds - £2.49 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2019

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2021

Cylindra                  -  150  Seeds - £0.25 - Wilko  - Sow By 2021
Cylindra                  -  150  Seeds - £0.25 - Wilko  - Sow By 2021 
Cylindra                  -  150  Seeds - £0.25 - Wilko  - Sow By 2021
Cylindra                  -  150  Seeds - £0.25 - Wilko  - Sow By 2021
Cylindra                  -  150  Seeds - £0.25 - Wilko  - Sow By 2021
Cylindra                  -  150  Seeds - £0.25 - Wilko  - Sow By 2021

A couple of packs bought at 25p and 4 more picked up when 10p pack in the sale 

Alphabetical Listing

                                       Sowing            Harvest
Action F1                       Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Alto F1                           Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Bettollo F1                      Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Boltardy                          Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Cardeal F1                     Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Cylindra                          Apr - Jul             Jul - Oct
Detroit 2                         Apr - Jul             Jun - Oct         
Detroit 6 Rubidus           Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Globe 2                          Apr - Jul             Jul - Oct
Kestrel                            Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct     
Moneta                           Mar - Jul            Jul - Oct
Pablo F1                         Apr - Jul            Jun - Onwards        
Perfect 3                         Apr - Jul            Jun - Oct
Red Ace F1                    Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct                   
Solo                                Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Wodan F1                       Apr - Jul            Jun - Onwards     

Boltardy is one of the best beetroots and a gardeners favourite. Good quality, globe shaped , dark-red, well flavoured roots up to 100mm (4") across, and the variety that I normally go for however the Wyevale 50p seed sale is responsible not only for the amount of packs I have in the seed box but also the various varieties. 

Altro is a Hybrid cylindrical beetroot that produces straight roots that stand proud above the soil, but can be earthed up keeping in good condition for longer periods, and will produce more consistent diameter slices for pickling and that is what attracted me to pack when I bought it.  This was also why I bought six packs of Cylindra from Wilko as they are only 25p a pack and were dropped to 10p a pack in the end of season sale.  

When To Plant 

Beets are fairly frost hardy and can be planted in the garden 30 days before the frost-free date for your area. Although beets grow well during warm weather, the seedlings are established more easily under cool, moist conditions. Start successive plantings at 3 to 4 week intervals until midsummer for a continuous supply of fresh, tender, young beets. Irrigation assures germination and establishment of the later plantings.

Dates based on guidance from Garden Focused based on the last frost date for Sutton Surrey of the last week in April, suggests Beetroots are sown in the 4th week of March. BUT that is assuming sowing directly in the ground, and as I will be starting off the beetroots in the Space Saver garden or allotment greenhouse I intend to sow a couple of trays earlier in 2019 in say the 1st or 2nd week of March. I may even try some early in the ground under a cloche, it's not as if I don't have enough seeds!


Frequent shallow cultivation is important because beets compete poorly with weeds, especially when small. Because beets have extremely shallow roots, hand weeding and early, frequent and shallow cultivation are the most effective methods of controlling weeds in the rows. Deep cultivation after the weeds are large damages the beet roots. Like most root crops, beets need a fertile soil (especially high in potassium) for vigorous growth. Keep your beet plants uniformly supplied with moisture for best performance.


Beets can be harvested whenever they grow to the desired size. About 60 days are required for beets to reach 1 1/2 inches in diameter, the size often used for cooking, pickling or canning as whole beets. Beets enlarge rapidly to 3 inches with adequate moisture and space. With most varieties, beets larger than 3 inches may become tough and fibrous. Beets may be stored in a polyethylene bag in a refrigerator for several weeks. Beets also may be stored in outdoor pits if the beets are dug before the ground freezes in the fall. Cut off the tops of the beets one inch above the roots. Beets store best at 32°F and 95 percent humidity. Do not allow them to freeze