Sunday 31 October 2021

In My Seedbox for 2022 - Onion Sets

I bought this Autumn Planting Onion Set Collection from D.T.Brown this weekend as it includes 3 x 250g each (80 sets approx.) of Radar £3.95, Electric £3.95 and Snowball £3.95 = £11.85 Reduced by £2 to £9.85 and this weekend there was a code for free post and packing. That saved me going into the high street and seeing what Wilko had left.

Radar If you experience severe winters, try ultra-hardy Radar as it puts up with the worst of the weather much better than many older varieties. This outstanding performer has a mild and crisp flavour.

Electric A really attractive addition to the early summer salad bowl with beautiful red skin and flesh. The family cook will want to use this beautiful onion in a wide range of dishes. Just the job for a cheese and onion flan.

Snowball White skinned, as its name suggests, Snowball has a lovely, mild flavour and the bulbs keep well. A great choice for baking whole with the Sunday roast!

No kitchen garden is complete without onions - and planting our sets this autumn means you will have a supply early next summer just as stored bulbs are scarce and before next season’s maincrop is ready. All of D.T.Browns bulbs are certified as disease and virus free.

250g pack contains around 80 sets for planting so 240 sets approx.

In My Seed Box For 2022 - Index

Saturday 30 October 2021

Don't Choose Extinction


The people who don't have the power to change things already know this message, and the ones who do? They already ignore it and many will be at COP26 and will be #Greenwashing.

Friday 29 October 2021

Top 10 Allotment Conflicts!

A countdown of the 10 biggest causes for conflict on our allotments!

Allotments and community gardens are a place to escape the chaos of everyday life and find a few hours of peace and quiet whilst getting back to nature. That peace and quiet is not always guaranteed though, as we find out now.
Allotments are a fantastic resource for people the world over and this video is not intended to scare or deter people from using them. I have been an allotment holder for many years and have enjoyed almost every second of my time on the plot. The positives of allotment ownership overwhelm the negatives many time over and I would not hesitate to recommend to everyone!

I've had my allotments since 2012 and have been a site rep since 2013 as no one on the site wanted to do the job, and I was requested to take it by the Allotment administrator at the council.

Being an allotment site rep can be rewarding, but it can also come with a host of difficulties and problems. I can identify with the top 10 conflicts in this video and have seen many of them in action. As the author of this video, I have enjoyed almost every second of time on the plot, and he is right the positives do overwhelm the negatives, plus you get nice preservative free vegetables to eat as long as some bastard doesn't nick them at which stage you get into wild life photography.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Shell - Greenwashing


Joe Lycett has made this advert to highlight the troubling problem of greenwashing, a practice where companies exaggerate their green credentials in their marketing output. In Joe Lycett Vs The Oil Giant – airing Sunday 24 October at 9pm on Channel 4, and on All4 – you can see his new film on the subject, ahead of COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference. Joe will be focusing his efforts on energy giant Shell, their marketing, and their continued exploration for new oil reserves. #JoeLycett #Shell #Greenwashing

Wednesday 27 October 2021

In My Seed Box For 2022 - Pak Choi

 New in 2021 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 2022 - Index.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

In My Seed Box for 2022 - Onions

I have grown Onions from seeds in the past and was quite successful but for the last few years I have been using sets. I did have problems with white rot on Mill Green Plot 1A and I tried growing on the new plot on Spencer Road and still had white rot problems. 

I think the art is to watch and harvest as soon as one sees the signs of white rot and of course rotate the crops on the plot. Now that I have an additional half plot, I have decided that it's once again time to try growing Onions from seeds. 

Looking at the seeds that I have in my business card zippy bags they have sow by dates of  2015 & 2016 and I have decided to put these to one side as germination may not be as good.

The anticipated life of onion seeds is 2 to 4 years so I will try the 2019 - 2022 varieties as well as giving some of the older varieties a chance.  

Review of Seed Stock in Packets with sow by from 2019 - 2022

Hylander F1                    -    75 Seeds - Marshalls                       - £1.95 - Sow By 12/2020
Red Baron                       - 175 Seeds - Thompson and Morgan  - £2.99 - Sow By 12/2019
Red Baron                       - 175 Seeds - Thompson and Morgan  -  Mag  - Sow By 09/2021
Red Baron                       - 175 Seeds - Mr Fothergill's (GYO)     -  Mag  - Sow By 09/2022
Senshyu Yellow               - 400 Seeds - Premier Seeds Direct    -     99p - Sow By 09/2022
Fasto F1                          - 350 Seeds - Marshalls                       -            - Sow By 09/2022

Review of Seed Stock in Packets with sow by Dec 2024

Welsh Onion                    - 250 Seeds - D.T.Brown                     -  £2.19  - Sow By 12/2024

New 2021!  Welsh Onions - D.T.Brown 

Despite its common name, this perennial onion is widely grown in its native China and Japan. Virtually evergreen, this versatile onion is great for giving a continuous supply of leaves and 'spring' onions through the year, plus white flowers in summer. It has a slightly stronger flavour than chives.

New 2021 Shallot Simiane - 150 Seeds - Dobies - Cost £2.99 - Packed Year Ending 2021
Germination  10 - 14 Days

Alphabetical Listing of Onions I have grown

                                          Sowing           Sowing       Planting          Harvesting
                                          Indoors          Outdoors       Out     

Ailsa Craig                         Dec - Mar                                                Aug - Sept
Bedfordshire Champions                       Mar - Apr                             Aug - Sept
Ciboule Red Dragon                              Mar - Apr                             Aug - Nov
Fasto                                 Jan- Mar       Mar - Apr         April            August - September     
Giant Zittau                                            Mar - May                           July - Sept 
Hylander F1                      Jan - Apr                                                 July - Aug
Red Baron (T&M)                                   Mar - Apr                            Aug - Sept
Red Baron (Fothergill's)    Jan- Mar       Mar - Apr          May           August - September
Senshyu Yellow
Welsh Onion                      Feb - Apr      Mar - Sept                         March - Oct Once Established

Monday 25 October 2021

In My Seed Box For 2022 - Okra

Okra French Quarter - 5 Seeds - £2.99 - Marshalls 

First and only true patio type of okra (lady's fingers). With beautiful hibiscus-like blooms and pinky red seed pods. From January to April sow 1cm (1/2in) deep in clean trays or individual modules filled with moist, firm compost.

Key Features

  •  Perfect for pots and containers
  •  Prefers full sun


  • First and only true patio-type okra
  • Top ingredient for award-winning bahjis
  • Lovely blooms followed by edible okras’

Grow this new and exciting patio variety of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus). Other varieties requires an indoor environment but not French Quarter which has been bred to withstand a south-facing and sheltered position outdoors. Every plant produces big attractive blooms that give way to attractive pinky-red seed pods. Pleasing to the eye and big in flavour.

How to sow:

Soak seeds in warm water for a couple of hours before sowing to soften the seed coat and encourage quick germination.

Sow seeds 1cm (1/2 in) deep in clean trays or individual 9cm pots filled with moist, firm compost indoors from mid-winter to April. Keep them in an ambient temperature of 16°C (61°F) until transplanting in bigger pots. Transplant when the seedlings are around 10-15cm (4-6in) high. Keep soil moist at all times.

The plan at the moment is to grow this in the back garden on the patio

In My Seed Box For 2022 - Index

Sunday 24 October 2021

Afternoon visit to the allotment today, as cover could not be arranged to assist Jen in the morning. The weather brightened up, and although stuffed and ready for a snooze after an early Sunday dinner, I made my way to the allotment just after 2pm and was their until about 4:30 ish.

Harvested the last of the Sarpo Kilfi spuds in buckets

There were a number of green spuds on the surface that had to be thrown, but I was happy with the harvest and decided to weigh the spuds, although this variety has suffered from Common Scab.

Common scab is caused by a number of different species of Streptomyces, and powdery scab by Spongospora subterranea f. sp. subterranea. Both are pathogenic micro-organisms and cause rough, scabby patches. Scabs appear during summer and is worse if the soil conditions are dry and persist on harvested tubers throughout storage.

Using the luggage travel scales and an old school carrier bag suspended off the greenhouse door frame.

2.78 kg of spuds from four seed potatoes is a good haul. This being the last bucket of spuds to be harvested I then turned my attention to the bed in front of the plot 1 shed in the photo below.

Green manure had been grown in this bed, it was strimmed and covered with the weed membrane and the buckets of spuds were placed in the bed, However some of the green manure decided to grow around the edges of the weed membrane.

All the buckets of spuds that have been harvested can be see around the bed behind.

The weed membrane was removed the green manure dug into the bed and then all the compost and coir in the buckets was emptied onto the bed. This particular bed is where there was a drop in ground level between plot 1 and plot 1A.

I roughly levelled the soil in the bed

And then covered it with weed membrane for the Winter, to keep the ground warm and to reduce any weed growth. The net covered bed in the background has the last of the main crop potatoes in and the plan is to harvest next weekend, weather and help for Jen permitting.

Its nice to see the plot getting ready for winter and the start of the Spring growing season in 2022. I'm not overwintering anything this year as I want to get all the infrastructure in and my time is limited. Once all the infrastructure is in place it should be easier to maintain the two plots.

Next on the agenda was disposing of the two and a half buckets of cut cardboard and shredded paper into the two active Daleks on plot 1 which are again both down to 50% capacity.

So many new Raspberry shoots of the second row of Raspberries Tulameen Pearl, and a number of raspberries to harvest off the 3rd row Autumn Treasure. The 4th Polka have has a couple of raspberries, but not going in until March have suffered from minimal growth, but I'm hoping for good things from them in 2022.

There is mares tail growing around the raspberries and my intention is to pull those on the next visit and also if time allows to work on the 3rd Rhubarb bed.

Saturday 23 October 2021

In My Seed Box For 2021 - 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 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 in 2022. 

marrows are ideal for hiding the lack of infrastructure or cultivation during the site inspections and making sure that reach the required cultivation level for the inspection, you just have to be careful as they like to explore the neighbouring plots if not kept in check.  

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.

Friday 22 October 2021

Fun Item For 2022 - Gourd "Luffa" Sponge

My fun item for 2022 is the one I planned for in 2020, but as we know due to Covid-19 and shielding the wife things didn't quite go to plan. 

The original luffa sponge variety producing large fruits on vigorous climbing vines which can be dried for your own home grown sponges. Although slow to start, when established and with warm weather these are vigorous plants and can reach 20ft.

Gourd Luffa Sponge. 

The original luffa sponge variety producing large fruits on vigorous climbing vines which can be dried for your own home grown sponges. Although slow to start, when established and with warm weather these are vigorous plants and can reach 20ft. Sturdy support is vital as the fruits are heavy and must be kept clear of the ground to prevent rotting.

Cultivation Advice Gourd Luffa Sponge

  • Soak seeds overnight before planting.
  • Sow in warmth (65 degrees +) ½”- ¾” deep from 4 weeks prior to the last frost under cover. (18-22 days to germinate)
  • Remove weaker seedlings, as they do not transplant well.
  • When 3-4 inches high gradually acclimatise outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Site the plants in a warm sheltered position with good drainage, these will need full sun and warmth to thrive and sturdy support.
  • Plant out at least 24”apart and avoid feeding or the crop will be reduced. They will start slow and when established and with warmer weather will quickly accelerate.
  • Keep moist throughout the summer and stop watering in autumn as fruits mature.
  • In autumn, mature gourds will begin to turn brown and dry turning yellow/brown, feel light with the outside skin loose.
  • Harvest remaining fruit before the first frost and mature in a warm well-ventilated position.
  • When fully dry the blossom end cap can be broken off, and a vascular bundle can be pulled up the side of the gourd like a zipper.
  • The sponge will pop out and be very wet and white.
  • Quickly rinse the sponge in water to prevent the plant juices from oxidizing on the sponge and remove the seeds at this time.
  • The sponges can be rinsed in a 10% bleach solution to whiten them.

This is a fun item to grow but also a little practical, I like a Luffa to was with and I can use some for washing up with instead of plastic sponges and reduce my plastic footprint. 

Thursday 21 October 2021

Spencer Road Allotment Flooded Again

Spencer Road Allotments once again got hit by the River Wandle bursting its banks 

I'm so glad I moved off this allotment site back to Mill Green a couple of years ago. Additional photos below from Derek Trayfoot who's plot was 3 away from my one at Spencer Road 

View from that gate this afternoon

In theory the water should be flowing away from the allotment not backing up and travelling along the gravel beds overlying the clay and flooding Spencer Road Allotments,  but that's what appears to be happening.   

From Mill Green To Spencer Road Allotments.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

In My Seed Box For 2022 - 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 as a result of the leg injury, and in 2020 until the winter months but in 2022 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 over the Winter months and hopefully have some success.

Lettuce Seeds when kept in ideal conditions last between 3 - 6 years. Most companies only allow 2 - 3 years between the saved on and the sow by dates on the back of their packs. 

Yes there will be a reduction in germination rate as the seeds get older but you can always chit 10 on damp kitchen towel to check out the current germination rate %, especially as they are supplied in 100's, and 1,000's per pack.

A Great video by Charles Dowding 

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

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

Arctic King                        -   500 Seeds - £            - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 09/2021
Little Gem (Delight)          -   500 Seeds - £            - Johnsons - Sow By 
Lobjoits (Cos)                   -    75 Seeds -    60p     - MoreVeg - Packed 09/2021 
Rocket Wild                      -  750 Seeds - on GYO - Mr Fothergill's Sow By 2021
Winter Density (Cos)        -    75 Seeds -    60p     - MoreVeg - Packed 09/2021 

Little Gem Cos                 - 1,400 Seeds - £1.10     - Kings Seeds - Sow By 2022 - Kitchen Garden
Mixed Spicy Leaves        -     250 Seeds - £1.50    -  Kings Seeds - Sow By 2022 - Kitchen Garden

Amaze                             -    250 Seeds -£ 2.05    - D.T.Brown - Sow By Dec 2023 

Chatsworth (Cos)           - 1250 Seeds - £2.40      - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2024
Vailan (Winter Gem)         - 250 Seeds - £2.55      - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2024
Rod Smith Heritage Veg Lettuce Speckled Trout - 150 Seeds - Cost £2.50 - Dobies - packed year ending 2021
Rod Smith Heritage Veg Lettuce Bronze Beauty - 150 Seeds - Cost £2.50  - Dobies - packed year ending 2021 

Little Gem  (Cos)                - 900 Seeds - £1.75        - Suttons  - Sow By 2025
Gustav's Salad                 - 1000 seeds - £2.15        - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2025 
Pasatiempo (Little Gem)   - 500 Seeds - £2.15         - D.T.Brown - Sow By 12/2025
Crisp Mint                          - 350 Seeds - Trial Free - Mr Fothergills - Sow by Dec 2025

Note to Self - Pick up more Lettuce seeds in the Wilko Seed Sale or from Lidl in 2022

Alphabetical Listing
                                       Sowing            Harvest

Amaze                         Mar - Jul           May - Oct Sow Under Cloche from January
Cos                              Mar - Jul           May - Oct
Crisp Mint                    Mar - Jul           May - Oct 
Elyburg                        Mar - Jul           Jun - Oct
Gaustav's Salad          Mar - Jul            May - Oct
Little Gem                    Mar - Jul           May - Oct  Mr Fothergill's
Little Gem                    Mar - Jul           May - Sep Thompson & Morgan
Maureen                      Mar - Jul           Jun - Oct
Pasatiempo                 Mar - Aug           May - 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

Tuesday 19 October 2021

In My Seed Box For 2022 - Kale

Kale or leaf cabbage is one of certain cultivars of cabbage grown for their edible leaves, although some are used as ornamentals. Kale plants have green or purple leaves, and the central leaves do not form a head.

Kale Seeds if saved in ideal conditions will last between 4 - 7 years

I didn't get around to growing Kale in 2021 but it's on the cards for 2022 

Borecole Pentland Brig - Kingseeds - Sow by 2018 
Borecole "Portuguese" - Premier Seed Direct - Sow by 12/2017
Hungry Gap                 -  Supplier unknown" 

Borecole "Portuguese"

for 2021 
 Kale (Ethiopian) Amara - D.T.Browns ~ £2.49 

Quick and easy to grow 'Texsel Greens' with deliciously tender leaves. The leaves have good texture and a mild flavour with all the freshness of traditional kale with a hint of garlic. Use for cooked greens or 'cut and come again' crops of baby salad leaves. Plants are vigorous in growth to produce healthy crops of uniform leaves.

New  for 2021  Kale Oldenboer F1  - Dobies - 45 Seeds - £2.99 

New  for 2021  Garlic Kale - Suttons - 200 Seeds - £2.99