Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Before You Buy Seeds II

 

The original Before You Buy Seeds article was written in October 2017 and was aimed at new allotment holders who ask the question about where is the best place to buy seeds. This is an update to the original article as one of the most valuable sources of cheap quality seeds is no longer with us. Wyevale Garden centres have been bought out and it appears that the end of season 50p Seed Sale that so many of us used to stock up with seeds is no more!
   
So it's the end of the year and if you are lucky you have finally made it to the top of the waiting list and you have your very own (normally with one previous neglectful owner) overgrown allotment that you are now working on to try and deal with the weeds and get ready for the growing season next year.

At some stage soon as it's the winter months and that when allotmenteers do this kind of thing, you will be thinking about what you are going to grow and the seedaholic in you will twitch and start to emerge and you will want to start buying packs of seeds.

First thing to do is have a family meeting and decide what it is you actually like and want to eat, what do you eat the most off. Ask your self are there things you would like to eat more off but are expensive like asparagus for example. 

Now having had the family meeting and before you rush out to your local DIY store or Garden Centre and spend a fortune on seeds, here is a little information about seed suppliers and buying.

There are well known and long established seed companies out there like Marshalls, Suttons, Mr Fothergill's etc. So it's worth visiting their web sites and requesting either a paper seed catalogue which is equivalent to an allotment owners porn, of download the catalogues as Adobe or surf them on the internet. 

Subscribe to their news letters and you will be bombarded with offers to save and spend your money, some are good some are not so good, it depends on what you want. They will inform you when postage is free for 24 or 48 hours or there are price reductions i.e. Mr Fothergill's Black Friday offer in 2020 was £1 a pack on 400 varieties, with packs of seeds starting at 49p and some with a massive 76% OFF. 

Be aware of who is part of whom

Westland bought Marshalls/Unwins in 2004 and annual turnover increased from less than £2m to well over £10m. The company trades as SE Marshall, which owns the brands Marshalls (80 per cent of turnover) and Unwins (20 per cent of turnover). We are going to see more of Unwins in 2021 after the Marshalls rebranding last year.  

Fothergill's comprises five main brands: Mr Fothergill's, DT Brown, Woolman's, The Sweet Pea Company and Johnsons. You will find that the same seed is being packaged in different quantities and for different prices between these companies. There are some varieties of seeds that are only sold by either Mr Fothergills or D.T.Brown and if you were not aware of the link one may never suspect they were part of the same group.

I know an allotment owner who always bought his seed from DT Brown, thinking they were a 'bit special'. Now he knows he may as well buy from Mr Fothergills or Johnsons seeds from wilko.

In November 2020 Thompson & Morgan acquired 100% of the share capital of Suttons Seeds Ltd and its 3 brands: Suttons, Dobies and the Organic Catalogue. At the time of acquisition Chris Wright, joint MD at Thompson and Morgan, said Suttons will remain in Paignton, its traditional home.
“The combined horticulture, ecommerce and multi-channel marketing skills of these renowned brands are forecast to generate over £80m in revenues in FY21 dwarfing the nearest online competitor and enabling the group to offer consumers the largest range, best prices and service to the gardener.”
The next thing to know about seeds is that there are different types

F1 Hybrid 
F2 Hybrid
Open Pollinated also known as Heritage  

What is an F1 hybrid? 

An F1 hybrid is a variety that has been produced by the carefully controlled cross breeding of two parent plants specially chosen for their different desirable qualities such as vigour, flower power, disease resistance, uniformity, crop yield, unique colour and so on. 

Bringing together these parent plants transfers these qualities to their offspring combining them to produce superior plants. This involves a complicated and expensive breeding programme by means of controlled flower pollination, often done by hand. A process which has to be repeated each year to create consistent hybrids as it is not possible to simply harvest the seed from F1 varieties. The offspring of F1 hybrids often have less stable and more varied characteristics and may or may not show any of the F1 parents’ desired attributes, these offspring are known as F2 Hybrids. 

Because of the costly production methods F1 hybrid seed can be considerably more expensive than ‘normal seed’. However it is usually the case that the extra cost is more than made up for by the significant improvement in the plants’ characteristics, well that's what the marketing guff says.  

So when you see high cost for 4 - 10 seeds from the larger players in the seed selling business they are usually F1. Not all F1 seeds are marked as such by all the sellers, and they really should be! 

What is an F2 hybrid? 

An F2 hybrid is the offspring from an F1 hybrid. As mentioned above, the seed produced by an F1 hybrid can result in a much greater variety in their offspring. Although this is undesirable in some cases such as vegetables where often the selected characteristic such as uniform, high yields are all important or flowers where a precise colour or form is sought after, in other instances as with flamboyant flower mixtures this diversity can provide a real benefit. F2 hybrids allow a greater diversity and can often produce unique colour combinations that would not be possible from F1 or normal varieties and yet have a good chance of retaining some of the desirable characteristics of the parent plant. This variation can also mean differences in the rates that flowers or fruits mature which can have the added benefit of extending the flowering season or harvest period. 

I have experimented with saving seeds from F1 grown products and growing on. One tends to sometimes get very different looking plants depending which parent plant it takes after on that first F2 year, I have then saved seeds and grown year on year. Sometimes the difference between the F1 and F2 are huge and other times they are very close to the original. 

What is an O/P or Open Pollinated plant? 

Those plants of the same type that grow together and then pollinate each other by natural, more random means are said to be ‘open pollinated’. Most often this job is performed by pollinating insects such as bees or by the wind. New open pollinated plant varieties are selected for the appropriate characteristics by breeders or by natural selection in the case of wildflowers. 

Selections are made as flowers of an open pollinated variety will sometimes show an appealing natural mutation, the seeds of this mutation or ‘rogue’ are collected by breeders and grown to maturity. Those offspring that show the same mutations are then selected and their seed also grown on, this process is repeated in the hope the mutation becomes stable and all offspring eventually show the same appealing mutation. The result is a new open pollinated variety that will pollinate amongst itself by natural means. In the wild these selections are made by the improved survival rates of those plants best suited to their environments and the needs of pollinating insects.

When these seeds are sold you can get 100's of a 1000 seeds for a similar price that F1 Seeds would come in quantities of 10-15 or less smalless I have seen is 4 seeds in a pack 

Heirloom or Heritage seeds are old seed varieties created by centuries of open-pollination by birds, insects, wind, or other natural means. They are often passed down through generations in a family, but can also be obtained from companies or local farmers.

Many of these old seeds have disappeared and F1 and Europe wanting to standardise seed production took hold over the last 40 years, but there are organisations, and companies trying to keep these old varieties alive by growing and seed saving.  

Photo of Wilko setting up grow your own between Christmas and New Year. 

If you have the frugal allotment mindset you may want to leave your seed acquisition until Wilko, Lidl and dare I say it the pound shops have their gardening stuff & seeds in stock. 

Lidl sell 3 small packs for a £1 and 4 Large packs for £2 normally and the pound shop selling 4 packs for a £1. but their range is obviously limited very unlikely to be F1 but ideal for a new plot holder starting out

The Range sell most of their seed from 49p 

In the original Before You Buy Seeds in 2017 I looked at Musselburgh Leeks in terms of supplier, quantity of seeds and cost before any postage and packaging. In this update I decided to look at the humble tomato not an F1 but a standard open pollinated tomato:- 

Gardeners Delight Tomato Seeds 

Supplier                        Number Seed - Cost 

Seeds To Sow            -     10 Seeds -     55p
More Veg                   -      12 Seeds -     60p 
Wilko                          -      75 Seeds -    75p
Growseed                  -       50 Seeds -    76p
Simply Seeds             -   100 Seeds -     99p
Premier Seeds Direct -   250 Seeds -     99p
Seed Megastore        -   150 Seeds - £1.10 
Just Seeds                 -     50 Seeds - £1.25
Kings Seeds              -      50 Seeds - £1.50
Nickys Nursery          -      50 Seeds - £1.55
Dobies                        -   100 Seeds - £1.99            
Simpsons Seeds       -      20 Seeds - £1.60 
Seedaholic                 -     45 Seeds - £1.65      
Just Seeds                 -   150 Seeds - £1.75
D.T. Brown                  -    50 Seeds - £1.85          
Sarah Raven              -     50 Seeds - £1.85
Plant World Seeds     -     30 Seeds - £2.10
Robinsons Mammoth -    20 Seeds - £2.10 
ChilternSeeds            -     35 Seeds - £2.15 
Mr Fothergills             -     50 Seeds - £2.15 
Johnsons                   -     50 Seeds - £2.40
Real Seeds                -     20 Seeds - £2.49
Suttons                       -     50 Seeds - £2.49  
Thompson & Morgan  -    50 Seeds - £2.79 
Marshalls                    -    50 Seeds - £2.99 
Gardening Direct        -    50 Seeds - £2.99 
Just Seeds                 - 1200 Seeds - £6.55

Some of these you can buy from DIY stores and Garden Centres and unless they have a free delivery offer on you will need to add P&P if buying by mail order or over the internet. There is a long list of UK seed suppliers on the left margin of my blog. 

But one need to ask do you really need a pack of even 50 of these seeds? How many are you going to grow a year? There are some seed suppliers who don't give a sow by date in the back of the pack but will give the saved or packaged date. It is so EASY to save seeds from a tomato dry them and use them the following year. 

I have been asked on Facebook groups if there is any explanation for the price differences? and my answer is....

Shareholder expectations in larger companies, Overheads, Research and creation of new F1 varieties, Profit margins, Quantities of seeds supplied, Cost of Packaging. I have bought seeds from all of the companies or brands listed above and on my UK Seed Suppliers list in the bottom of the left margin of the blog and have not really seen any difference of Quality. 

Brand Name is another reason for hiking the price, Sutton and Dobies are brand names from the same group however Sutton (the older and better known brand) have flash picture packs with loads of information whereas Dobies (Basically the same company) is cheaper but seed packs are bland and not quite as informative. There is 50p difference between Suttons & Dobies for the same seeds in the photo below with same quantity of seeds.


Most companies only allow 2 to 3 years from the packaged date as a sow by date. The actual life expectancy of seeds for many varieties much longer if kept in good storage conditions, however one has to expect a loss of germination with each passing year. 



Some of the larger companies like D.T. Brown have now brought in a 99p/ pack seed range where the number of seeds are reduced and have a 99p Vegetable Seed section on their web site for them. In conjunction with this they have a special catalogue Click Here and scroll down the page to order 


  Which comes with a further 50% - 75% Reduction on packs of seeds above and below a £1

Other sources of seeds are off the front cover of magazines, I had a good few seeds from my six months subscription to Grow Your Own Magazine, but got to the point where the magazines were stacking up and most of what's in them is in the books I have. I now only buy the mag is it has seeds on it that I want, like parsnip when is best bought fresh each year. or there is a pair of gloves or other values added item.

One of the other problems with seed off magazines is that you will get seeds for things you have never eaten before or have no intention of growing. Also one tends to get less seeds in the subscription pack than if you buy off the shelf. That upset a lot of subscribers a few years back, but what they call FREE seeds are actually included within the cost of the magazine so if they are offering a discount for subscription of course they aren't going to supply so many of the FREE seeds


I took Kings Seeds and Kitchen Gardener to task recently when they put a RRP on the pack that was 5p dearer than what they were selling for 180 seeds. On the promotion pack on the magazine they only supplied half of the seeds that one would normally get if buying direct. I hate dishonesty in marketing. So remember the Free seeds are not free they are inclusive in the product you are buying and that the value is inflated and the quantity of seed can sometime be halved. 

You will find that once you get an allotment family and friends will buy you books for birthdays and Christmas and you will soon be over run with them. IMHO after a six months subscription one is better off sticking with books and buying seeds you actually need and want.   

Normally on Sundays at the end of the January when there is not a pandemic there are Potato Day & Seed Fair around the UK check out http://www.potato-days.net/ for events near your area.

Then there is Brightons Seedy Sunday which is the UKs largest Seed Swap which again when not in the middle of a pandemic is held on a Sunday in late Jan early February between 10:30 AM - 4 PM  at the Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College where you can swap seeds, buy seeds, listen to expert speakers, visit more than 50 stalls and enjoy Infinity Cafe's wonderful food

Check out your local Allotment Trading Huts For a small membership fee many large allotment sites have trading huts which enable you to purchase all your gardening needs at reasonable prices and are more convenient than going to your local garden centre as long as your happy to shop on a Sunday morning.

Most of these trading huts are not only open to the plot holders but some are also open to gardeners in the surrounding area. Most are no profit making and are staffed by volunteers any profits go back into the association or get donated to charity. So if you have taken on an Allotment or are growing vegetables from home check out your surrounding Allotments and find out where they are located. 


In terms of seed sales Wilkos' seeds which I suspect are packaged for them by the Fothergill group as they also sell Johnsons sell off their wilco branded packs of seeds at 10p a pack and Johnsons at 30p a pack at the end of the season, but they go very fast and on the last couple of days the 10p packs have been known to go through the tills at 1p per pack. 

Consider saving some of your own seeds or perhaps joining in on a seed circle and swapping seeds.

Remember It always pays to shop around when buying anything gardening related and yes, you will likely find or see it cheaper once you have bought it. That's just Murphy's law.   

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Marshalls Little Book Of Seeds 2021

Is not so little it Measures 170mm wide 248mm deep and 9mm or 198 Pages thick. So far this is my favourite seed brochure that I have looked at in the last three months!

On the back of the front cover we are informed that Marshalls Garden have been passionate about seeds for over 70 years and for the first time ever they have brought together their range of fruit, vegetables , flowers and houseplant seeds together in one place to make it easy for the customers to browse and plan for the year ahead

The layout of this brochure or catalogue has been well thought out and is a total redesign on the previous catalogues and personally I hope that Marshalls will maintain this format following their rebranding in 2020.  I can’t wait to see how they have improved the information on the seed packets for 2021 as they were already one of the most informative packs.

The catalogue includes helpful sowing and growing tips for individual varieties, and kicks off on page 6 through to 9 with photos of the 55 New vegetables seeds added to the Marshalls range. Each photo has the page number within the brochure where more information can be found.  


This on its own will save me hours, as I will not have to add post-it tags to the brochure on every page that has a New Variety. I can quickly determine which ones I want to look at in closer detail, perhaps visit the web page for the variety and order to add to my seed box collection for 2021.

 

Now research says that men don’t like using index pages and systems when looking for information, however women are more likely to use the index. Perhaps because of my choice of profession or could be I'm in touch with my feminine side, but I love and index and the one provided between pages 192 and 197 is split between Vegetable Seed A-Z Index and Flower Seed A-Z Index, giving the Variety Name, if NEW, Order Code Quantity of Seeds, Price and Page Number for more information. 

Page 198 is a Notes page for your growing notes or memory joggers.

Of the 55 New Vegetable seeds there are 12 New Tomatoes that have been added to the range for 2021 and all can be seen on page 9. The tomato section of the catalogue can be found from page 86 to 92, the first two pages covers everything a new gardener/grower or allotment holder needs to know about Tomatoes i.e. Where to Grow, How To Grow, When to Plant, Choosing Your Tomato, Types of Tomato, difference between Cordon & Bush, Pests & Diseases, How to Care, Training Your Plants, When to Harvest.

The informative guidance is supplied at the introduction to each variety of vegetable and then there are Top Tips scattered throughout the Little book of Seeds which actually makes it a great little reference document. 



Within the envelope when when your Little Book of Seeds arrives are a January Offers flyer and an order form with the delivery window and charges and Terms and Conditions plus a really handy laminated card with six push out book marks to mark the pages of your
favourite varieties.


CLICK HERE 

to order you copy of the Marshalls Little Book of Seeds.


 

Monday, 28 December 2020

In My Seed Box For 2021 - Spinach

NEW Tree Spinach - 200 Seeds - Suttons - £2.99

Eye-catching bright magenta leaves that will add columns of heights and colour to your veg garden.

Young leaves make a delicious and healthy addition to salads.

Plants are related to quinoa, so grains can also be dried and saved for baking.

Harvest mid July - early October.

Tree spinach has eye-catching bright magenta with almost sparkly growing tips. Spinach plants can grow up to 2m tall, hence the name Tree spinach. This vigorous plant can be harvested as a cut and come again leaf from 25cm tall. Easy to grow, adds columns of height and colour to the veg garden.

Producing large magenta spinach leaves, they are tastiest when they are young. Young leaves can be used fresh in salads and larger ones can be harvested and used like spinach. Spinach provides us with an essential source of vitamins and minerals that are key for a healthy diet and lifestyle. Plants are also related to quinoa, so when they flower and go to seed in August-October, the grains can be dried and saved for baking.

Growing Information

Sow seeds on the surface of good quality seed compost on a sunny windowsill in trays or modules in a greenhouse or conservatory. Do not exclude light as this aids germination, which can take between 14-28 days. transplant into pots as the plants grow and plant out after the danger of frost has passed. Alternatively, seeds can be directly sown where they are to crop in May, preferably at the back of a veg bed where they will not cause shade to other plants. Sow a few seeds every 2 weeks for a continual supply of young, tender leaves


Sunday, 27 December 2020

In My Seed Box For 2021 - Pak Choi

New Pak Choi Macau F1 - 100 Seeds - Dobies -  Cost £2.49

Plants will hold in the ground two weeks longer than regular varieties without going to seed!

Perfect for any stir- fry or steamed until soft in a vegetable side dish.

Compact habit, they are the ideal addition to beds, borders or containers.

Macau is a vigorous mini Pak Choi variety, that performs well in mid-summer with good bolt tolerance. Plants will hold in the ground for around 2 weeks longer than regular varieties without going to seed. These vegetable plants are ideal to succession sow for a continued harvest for months. Compact habit, they are the ideal addition to beds and borders or patio pots and containers. Height 10–100mm (½–4"); spread 10 - 100cm (½–4").

Pak Choi is a Chinese leafy green member of the cabbage family, popular for its delicious flavour. Harvesting from mid-May until December, ‘Macau’ is a mini Pak Choi variety that is the perfect addition to any stir-fry dish or steamed until soft for a delicious Chinese side dish.

Growing Pak Choi from seed

Seeds should be sown 1cm deep in finely raked, moist soil. To ensure plants produce miniature Pak Choi, sow seeds in a grid pattern 5cm apart and 10cm between rows. To extend your harvest, seeds can also be started off earlier or later than stated if grown in a greenhouse border.

Growing Information

Seeds should be sown 1cm deep in finely raked, moist soil. To ensure plants produce miniature Pak Choi, sow seeds in a grid pattern 5cm apart and 10cm between rows. To extend your harvest seeds can also be started off earlier or later than stated if grown in a greenhouse border.

In My Seed Box For 2021 - Index 

Saturday, 26 December 2020

New Seeds - Dobies

There are many New varieties of seeds that have been added to the Dobies Range for 2021 and below are a few that I have added to My Seed Box For 2021



New Rod Smith Heritage Veg Lettuce Speckled Trout - 150 Seeds - Cost £2.50 

New Rod Smith Heritage Veg Lettuce Bronze Beauty - 150 Seeds - Cost £2.50 

New Cauliflower Zaragoza F1 - 20 Seeds - Cost £3.49 

New Broccoli Purple Rain - 20 Seeds - Cost £2.99

New Broccoli Gemini F1 - 25 Seeds - Cost £2.99


New Tomato Crimson Cherry F1 - 10 Seeds - Cost £3.99 

New Tomato Crimson Plum F1 (Nagina)  - 10 Seeds - Cost £3.99 

New Sweet Corn Illusion F1 - 25 Seeds - Cost £2.99

New Shallot Simiane - 150 Seeds - Cost £2.99 


New Herb Basil Everleaf Emerald Towers - 30 Seeds - Cost £2.49 

New Pak Choi Macau F1 - 100 Seeds - Cost £2.49 

New Kale Oldenboer F1  - 45 Seeds - Cost £2.99 

New Carrot Cascade F1 - 500 Seeds - Cost £2.99


Friday, 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas One and All

 


Remember Sprouts are like puppies they are for all year round not just for Christmas 

Thursday, 24 December 2020

New Seeds - Suttons

There are many New varieties of seeds that have been added to the Suttons Range for 2021 and below are a few that I have added to  My Seed Box For 2021


 
NEW Tomato F1 Crimson Cherry -  10 Seeds -  £4.49

NEW Tomato F1 Crimson Plum - 10 Seeds -  £4.49

NEW Tomato Veranda Red - 6 Seeds -  £4.49

NEW Mountain Cranberry - 50 Seeds -  £3.99

NEW Wild Blueberry - 50 Seeds -  £3.99


NEW Garlic Kale - 200 Seeds - £2.99

NEW Native British Leaves - Urban Forage Mix - 1g seeds - £3.99

NEW Tree Spinach - 200 Seeds -  £2.99

NEW Brussels Sprouts F1 Brodie - 45 Seeds -  £3.49

NEW Swiss Chard - 65 Seeds -  £2.99




NEW Herbs Hyssop Blue - 200 Seeds -  £1.99

NEW Herbs - Lemon Balm - 20 Seeds -  £3.49

NEW Radish Mixed - 475 Seeds -  £1.99

NEW Cucumber Passandra F1 - 4 Seeds -  £3.99

NEW Tomato Reisetomate - 15 Seeds -  £2.99

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

New Tomato Varieties - Suttons

 A little bit about why each one ended up on my order form, and my to grow list for 2021

New F1Crimson Plum (Nagina)

New to Suttons & Dobies this year plum tomato the first blight resistant plum tomato that the catalogue and web site states “will produce a great crop both indoors and outdoors!” they also continue to say “Handfuls of ‘Roma’ style plum fruits with rich, deep flavour and solid meaty flesh” The wife and I consume a huge amount of tomatoes throughout the year and I like to grow my own for as long as I can. 

This variety is marketed as an “ideal variety to grow outdoors in the UK in pots, baskets or containers” with a four month harvest period from July to October. Being blight resistant this is an ideal variety to be grown on my new half plot in the Narrow 600mm wide beds. 


Above is the plan for two new planting membranes for the narrow beds marked as H1 & H2 on the plot plan. So basically three plants per bed with deep watering holes between the plants and holes for a four sided pyramid of bamboo canes to be installed around the planting position for support to the plant.  

New Crimson Cherry F1

New to Suttons & Dobies this year the first blight resistant cherry sized tomato with what we are promised is an unbeatable taste! With it being blight resistant it makes it perfect variety to be grown outside in the UK, although we are informed that is ideal for small pots, baskets, or any containers, but the web site then states the growing limits and proportions as being:-

“Reaching heights of 151-200cm (59-79"); spread 41-50cm (16-20").” And that its “Extremely versatile, this tomato plant shows good resistance to Fusarium, Verticillium, and both early and late blight!”  

So Longer Bamboo poles required me thinks! 

Now I know what early and late blight is but I had never heard of Fusarium and Verticillium so from a little desk study it appears that:-

Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne fungal disease. It causes the water-carrying (xylem) vessels to become blocked, so that the plant wilts and often dies.

In spite of the name verticillium wilt, a true wilt seldom occurs in tomato, at least not until late in the season. Rather, under good conditions of moisture and nutrition, yellow blotches on the lower leaves may be the first symptoms, then brown veins appear, and finally chocolate brown dead spots. Yep I have seen that before and now I know what it's called 

Crimson Cherry tomatoes are deliciously sweet (9 Brix). Its fruits have a satisfying 'tang' which makes you want more. These tomato plants will keep cropping until the first frosts outside and longer if grown in a greenhouse or tunnel.

I can see this variety being grown outside in the narrow H Beds and also inside the greenhouse in the Quadgrow in 2021, the final quantities and varieties going inside and outside on the allotment are still to be determined. 

NEW
Tomato Veranda Red F1

British bred, the Veranda Red is a dwarf tomato with a big flavour and has taken 15 years to perfect. Bred by the breeder of the Tumbler, it is extremely versatile. It’s another tomato that shows good resistance to Fusarium & Verticillium (we now know what that is!) and some blight.

We are informed that “Compared to other dwarf tomato varieties, the Veranda Red has the most delicately sweet flavour, just like a vine tomato you would grow in a greenhouse. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that this variety was loved by Carol Klein at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2019!” I love sweet cherry tomatoes and being a self-supporting dwarf I had to try this variety out in 2021

The write up then tells us “Early ripening from mid- July this tomato plant will produce up to 75 juicy, 12-16g fruit. Ideal for small pots, baskets or any containers” 75 juicy 12-16g tomatoes per plant! That sold me on giving it a go.

Growing Information

Sow in pots or in a propagator on a windowsill at approximately 18-21°C (65-70°F) using a good quality moist compost. Cover seeds with 6mm (¼") of sieved compost. Germination 7-14 days. Transfer seedlings when large enough to handle into 11cm (4") pots and grow on to fruiting on the windowsill. Alternatively, when the danger of frost has passed, you can plant in a window box or into 25cm (10") pots on the patio. Bush variety, no pinching or staking required.

Tomato (Organic) Seeds - Reisetomate


I read about this unique rare variety that produces a cluster of cherry tomatoes all fused together to create one large fruit and thought, I have to have a go at growing that in 2021. Recommended for growing in the Greenhouse, that's another variety selected for the Quadgrow in the new greenhouse in 2021.  Use the hyperlink on the title to read more about this strange little cluster tomato on the Suttons web site. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Rethinking Parsnips

Following harvesting the parsnips and ending up with such whoppers I have been rethinking the bed layout and the amount of Parsnips I was intending to grow in 2021 there is no way I can handle 105 parsnips if I end up with large ones like I have this year


I have 6 different varieties of parsnips and I was looking at filling a whole 2.4m x 1.4m bed with a 105 hole 7 per row and 15 rows planting membrane with parsnips.

2 rows (14) x Student Parsnip   - 200 Seeds - Mag    - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021 
2 rows (14) x Palace F1             - 200 Seeds - £2.45 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021
2 rows (14) x Tender and True   - 350 Seeds - £2.09 - Johnsons        - Sow By 2022
3 rows (21) x White Gem           - 300 Seeds - £1.00 - Wilko               - Sow By 2022 
3 rows (21) x New! Picador F1  - 200 Seeds - £2.10 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By Dec 2023
3 rows (21) x New! TZ 9045 F1 - 200 Seeds - £1.99 - D.T.Brown       - Sow By Dec 2022
           [105]

BUT now I'm thinking merge beds 12 & 19 and grow one bed that includes Swede, Turnips and Parsnips 

Swede
2 rows  (14) x Best Of All            - 750 Seeds - FREE - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021
1 row    ( 7) x Invitation              - 100 Seeds - 25p - Carters (Poundland) - Sow by 7/2021
Turnips
2 rows (14) x Purple Top Milan  - 1750 Seeds - Magazine Free - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021
1 row   ( 7) x Snowball               -    50 Seeds - Some multipack in the past - Sow by Christ knows!  
Parsnips 
1 row   ( 7) x Student Parsnip    - 200 Seeds - Mag    - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021 
1 row   ( 7) x Palace F1              - 200 Seeds - £2.45 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021
2 rows (14) x Tender and True   - 350 Seeds - £2.09 - Johnsons        - Sow By 2022
1 row    ( 7) x White Gem            - 300 Seeds - £1.00 - Wilko               - Sow By 2022 
2 rows (14) x New! Picador F1  - 200 Seeds - £2.10 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By Dec 2023
2 rows (14) x New! TZ 9045 F1 - 200 Seeds - £1.99 - D.T.Brown       - Sow By Dec 2022
           [105]

Now I know how many labels to make with each plants names on them. 

Monday, 21 December 2020

Happy Seedmas


I've been waiting for my seed orders to arrive from Suttons and Dobies and finally with no post for over a week tonight the Postman knocks on the door with a weeks worth of mail. It appears they have staff shortages and some rounds are not being delivered. 


I will go through both my Suttons and Dobies selections for 2021 shortly as I update my In My Seed Box for 2021 lists  

Winter Solstice


The Winter Solstice celebrates the longest hours of darkness or the rebirth of the sun and is believed to hold a powerful energy for regeneration, renewal and self-reflection. In Pagan times the Winter Solstice was referred to as Yule and was a celebration of the Goddess (Moon) energy.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

December Plot Tour


The view from the Drop Off & Pick Up Area aka the Car Park, but we are not allowed to refer to it as such as all the Allotments will want one if we call it a car park! 

That's council & Allotment politics for you   

Below is the December plot tour that I recorded as soon as I arrived on the plot 


So this months plot tour was recorded using a monopod and hopefully it less shaky and easier to watch than the October tour was. 

Following on from the video, it was clear that the wood was saturated and at 8:00 on a Sunday it was way too early to start cutting timber with a Ryobi circular saw. So I set about digging up the parsnips that I have been eying for the last couple of weeks since the vegetation appeared to die off


I was somewhat staggered at how large the tops of the parsnips were and used the hand trowel to excavate around them and rocked them around a little as they were not coming out easily. Gloves and tools in photo to give some idea of size of these beasts. 


Three out and the last one on this side of the bed was not giving in. I dug down further wall the trowel and then used a fork to try and loft in four directions and as I pulled the bottom section of the Parsnip just sheared off. 

I don't think anyone told the parsnips this is supposed to be no dig or minimal dig beds.  The one that broke off is a whopper some 330mm circumference at the top about 110mm Diameter and it broke off at 280mm leaving a 45mm diameter section in the ground. so I'm expecting a parsnip tree to grown next season in that corner.

As I got the parsnip out a black cloud decided to release its burden of rain and it was a mad dash for the shed and shelter for five minutes. 
 

With everything now well and truly wet I decided to continue with weeding the paths up near the plot 1 greenhouse. To cut back the grape vine behind the greenhouse. The pile of bricks that support the water butt to the shed were moved over back near the shed and off the path in front of the greenhouse. 

The polycarbonate that was stacked beside the greenhouse was moved back to the storage area next to the shed.  

The usual Winter Allotmenteers Andy, Wally and John were also on site today and we had a socially distance natter about Tier 4 and plans for Christmas.