Monday, 5 December 2022

Lettuce Added to My Seed Box For 2023

I've added 3 new varieties of Lettuce that Sutton and Mr Fothergill's have added to their catalogues for 2023, and will be growing next year 

(Butterhead) Brighton - Suttons - 150 Seeds - £2.99 - Sow By 2026

This glasshouse type, butterhead lettuce is perfect for growing crops of large, well-filled hearts in winter and early spring. Lettuce ‘Brighton’ produces bright green, compact heads with good flavour and texture which are resistant to many strains of downy mildew.

Height: 20 (8"). Spread: 25cm (10")

This glasshouse type, butterhead lettuce is perfect for growing crops of large, well-filled hearts in winter and early spring.

Gustav's Salad - Mr Fothergills - 1000 Seeds - £2.15 - Sow By 2025

This tender melt-in-the-mouth butterhead type is a true Dutch heirloom variety from the southern isles, lovingly bred for delicious flavour and texture.

The story of ‘Gustav’s Salad’. Gustav was a local from one of the Southern Dutch isles who had developed his own strain of ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ butterhead lettuce. He used to ride his bicycle all over the village, a bucket filled with lettuce heads dangling from his handlebar, delivering them to numerous tables in the village. 

He let some of his lettuce mature to grow seed for the next year so that he could grow more of his own flavourful lettuce. Gustav continued growing lettuce known by the locals as ‘Sla van Pa’ (Pappy’s Salad) for more than 40 years!

Sow outdoors sow thinly, March-August where they are to crop, 1.5cm (½in) deep, directly into finely-prepared, fertile, moisture-retentive soil, which has already been watered. Allow 25cm (10in) between rows. 

Early and late sowings may benefit from cloche protection. Seedlings usually appear in 7-14 days. Thin out to 20cm (8in) apart, transplant thinnings if required. Water well until plants are established. 

Regular sowings, made every two to three weeks, will ensure a continuous supply. Harvest: May-October.

Sioux - Mr Fothergills - 750 Seeds - £2.40   

A medium-sized iceberg lettuce with attractively tinted leaves which get redder as the weather gets warmer. Great tasting, easy to grow and mildew tolerant. 

Winner of an RHS Award of Garden Merit for reliability and good performance. 

Part of the seed range produced by Mr Fothergill’s Seeds in partnership with the RHS.

Sunday, 4 December 2022

It's Getting Colder

Well with both of my daughters out for the day, there was no real chance of getting down to the allotment today, so I finished off another 9 Self watering Pop Bottles, watched a film "Christmas With You" with my good lady wife in Netflix, and I had to say I did enjoy it. 

When I have ventured out of the house to go to the greenhouse of the car to load it up ready for my next trip to the allotment it has been bitter, and I can believe the headlines coming into my news feed during the day. 

Looking at one of my weather apps Ventusky, it looks like it's mainly going to be Scotland the Midlands and Wales that will get hit first and we may see some snow on the 14th December. 


Goji Berry from Seeds To Suit

Until I received the November Newsletter from Seeds To Suit, I had never heard of Goji Berries, and I just love the look of them. I have no idea what they taste like, but I had to do some web browsing and google searching to find out more about this lush and plentiful perennial plant that could become part of my movement towards a more Permaculture based and Food Forest additions to my allotment plot, as I add more perennial plants and build up my fruit area.

Looking at the cost of buying plants for 49p from Seeds To Suit for Approximately 15 Seeds it's got to be worth buying a pack and growing them just to try them, especially as if I don't like them, I know my daughter Emma will. 

If you decide to also buy some Goji Berry seeds from Seeds To Suit and you are a new customer, you will get an introduction 10% Off. If you are an existing customer than use the Discount Code below that is good to at least November next year. I highly recommend that you subscribe to their monthly newsletter.   

After watching a number of very informative YouTube Videos I've included a couple in this post, and some links to others and you will find many other on YouTube. 

Some of the guidance from video-to-video conflicts, but that's what happens when you get a group of gardeners together talking about the best way to do anything.     

Saturday, 3 December 2022

In My Seed Box For 2023 - Radish


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. Now that I'm having 3 square foot gardening beds there feature surrounding the solitary items at the back that are vertical growers see posting here re square foot garden beds layouts

With good storage conditions Radish seeds can last between 5 - 8 years   

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow 2022

Vienna F1                - 2g of Seeds -    40p - Lidl - Sow by 12/2022

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow 2023

Radish Mixed - 475 Seeds -    £1.99 - Organic Gardening Seeds - Packed year Ending 2021

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow 2024

De dix huit jours      –     2g Seeds -    20p – Lidl - Sow by 12/2024
French Breakfast 3 –   450 Seeds - £1.55 - Suttons - Sow By 07/2024 Packed year ending 2021
Saxa 2                    –     2g Seeds -    20p – Lidl - Sow by 12/2024
Vienna F1                - 2g of Seeds -    40p - Lidl - Sow by 12/2024
Felicia - Dobies       - 300 Seeds - £ 1.99 or 900 Seeds - £3.00

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow 2025

Sparkler 3               –   460 Seeds -    50p^ – Wilko - Sow By 2025              
Sparkler 3               –   460 Seeds -    50p^ – Wilko - Sow By 2025
Whitella F1             –   300 Seeds -    50p^ – Mr Fothergill's - Packed year ending Jun 2023 

Bought in wilko 50% Seed Sale for 25p         

Alphabetical Listing of varieties previously grown 

                                            Sowing            Harvest
Breakfast Mix                     Jan – Oct         Mar - Nov 
Bright and Spicy Mix          Mar – Sept       April -  Oct
Cherry Belle                       Mar – July        May - Oct
De dix huit Jours                Mar 
– Nov        May - Oct
Eiszapfen                           Mar – Sept       April -  Oct
Felicia                                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
Saxa                                   Mar – May        May - Oct
Scarlet Globe                     May – July         July – Sept
Sparkler 3                          Feb – Sept        April – Oct
Vienna                                Apr – Aug         May - Oct

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. Keep plants cool and moist to prevent running to seed.

Friday, 2 December 2022

Making Self Watering Pop Bottle Propagators


Self-Watering Pop Bottle Propagators. 
Repurposing plastic pop/ water bottles before they ultimately get recycled.

Use the lines in the molding of the bottle to line up the two strips that will become the lifting handle. On this one I'm also taking the bottom of the bottle as well.

Here is another I have marked out a little more than I normally would so you can see what I'm cutting out. I highlighted the line in the moulding and then placed a rule over it to mark the handle strips.

Cut out the sections that are not required, and you have this.

The two 20 - 25mm wide strips will become the lifting handle.

Overlap the strips and staple them together. 

View once stapled, I have used a soldering iron and melted the straps together in the past as well.

Rag cloth rescued from an old bed mattress that I cut into tray size to use as capillary matting and now cut again into strips wide enough to be rolled up and stuffed into the neck of the bottle as capillary membrane.

Five 1mm holes drilled into the pop bottle cap to allow the water to get into the inside of the plastic bottle top via the wicking capillary membrane once filled with soil.

Roll up the strip of rag cloth and stuff into the neck of the bottle and screw the cap on.

The three parts of the Self Watering Pop Bottle Propagators the water container the growing basket and the Propagator cut to length so that the handle fits neatly inside and supports the propagator lid part, which can have a cap with holes added or the cap can be removed, as can the top of the bottle once the seedlings are up and no longer need the propagator lid.

Basket in the water container. The handle helps hold the bottle top you will be using as a Propagator in place.

Self-Watering Pop Bottle Propagators Assembled

Six Self-Watering Pop Bottle Propagators ready for being shipped to the Allotment greenhouse

Typical cucumber seed planting layout, and other seeds come to that.

Self-Watering Pop Bottle Propagators in use earlier this year, the plant label fits nicely in the middle of the bottle. 

Self-Watering Pop Bottle Propagators waiting to be filled with compost and seeds sown.

Video from 2016 when I added the lifting handle which was a game changer!

I use these in my allotment greenhouses, as I can't always get down to the allotment to water as I look after my wife who has Lupus and needs someone to be around as standing and moving around is not possible unassisted.

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Planning and Reviewing December in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last TEN 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. I also need to go there for some Allotment Therapy and get out of the house. 

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 more 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.  

2019 - Lots of rain, but I did manage to audit and catalogue What's In My Seed Box 

Jools Holland in Brighton with Kelly and John Barrowman A Fabulous Christmas and weekend away with my good lady wife meant I lost two weekends of working on the plots.

Christmas Eve my good lady wife and I were in the Royal Brompton Hospital as she was undergoing a night study to recalibrate her BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airways Pressure) machine that she has to go on each night.

2020 - Lots of rain, but I did manage to audit and catalogue What's In My Seed Box 

Raspberry infrastructure created. Weather watching and rain stops play. Plot Tour Video produced. New varieties of seeds from Suttons reviewed, In My Seed Box reviewed and published throughout the month, Seed catalogues reviewed. Before You Buy Seeds article updated. 

2021 - Lots of rain, but I did manage to audit and catalogue What's In My Seed Box for 2022 

After storm Arwen in November, Storm Barra hits the UK at the start of December. Leaf Bin and Carrot barrel set up. Rhubarb Bed 3 created; Rhubarb moved into it. So many bulbs planted by Andy and then stolen by the rats with fluffy tails.  21st December Winter Solstice and we start making our way to longer daylight. Sorted out the plot arrangement for 2022 and published it on the blog. Managed a site visit on the last day of December after so much rain. 

To Do List

Below is the to do list in no particular order and catching up with what didn't happen in November and has slipped because of all the rain and missed visits. The plan is now to get as much of the remaining infrastructure on Plot 1 in place as possible and get both plots and greenhouses ready for next season. 

Mill Green - Plot 1A
  • Re Add additional supporting timbers to the roof of the shed - TBD
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing but getting so much better 
  • Weeding - Complete the weeding of plot 1A
  • Greenhouse 1A - Get ready for winter sowings and perhaps some hydroponics

Mill Green - Plot 1
  • Beds and Paths - Third Square Foot Gardening and Solar Tent Bed to be formed.   
  • Install the kerb edging along the bottom of Plot 1 - TBD over Winter months. 
  • Potatoes in Buckets - Harvesting to continue this month as some are re growing!  
  • Planning - Ongoing
  • Cut Planting Membrane - Make more full bed blanks
  • Space Saver Greenhouse - Sow some winter crops.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Beast from the East 2022 On It's Way


One thing is sure, that the temperatures have dropped over the last few days, and it feels like the warnings could be right even though it is the Daily Express.

More and more warnings dropping into my news feed, and it's feeling a lot colder out there this afternoon. let's take a look at the weather forecast ...

Looking like cold possibly frosty weather (3C and below) from the 6th December onwards. I don't mind cold days on the allotment, but I can't be doing wet, and I still have so much to get done on the plot before the next growing season kicks off in 2023.   

Gomphrena Atomic Purple

Gomphrena Atomic Purple - Mr Fothergills - 50 Seeds - £2.95 - Item Code 39207 

Plant Class  Half-hardy annual
Height 600mm (2 feet)
Spread 300mm (1 foot)

Charming rounded flower heads provide a contrast to other flowers in the garden. Drought resistant and great for fresh or dried cut flowers.

Half-hardy plants cannot withstand winter wet and cold and will be killed by the frosts. However, you don't need to wait until the warmer weather to get going – sow your seeds or grow your seedlings in a light, frost-free place, protecting them under cover until the frosts are over.

Growing Instructions

Sow Indoors February -April, 5mm (1/4") deep in trays of compost. Keep moist and warm at approx. 15-20C (60-68F). Transplant seedling 50mm (2") apart to other trays when large enough to handle. Grow on in cooler, but not cold conditions. Gradually accustom young plants to outside conditions (avoid frosts) before planting out 250mm (10") apart, when frosts are over. 

Flowering /Harvesting June- September.  

For some reason I ended up with three packs of theses seeds in my bulk order from Mr Fothergills. I had not requested them, but hay you never look a gifted pack of seeds or three in the mouth even if they are flowers and not vegetables.  

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

More Basil in 2023

If you are a regular visitor to then you will know that I've not really been into herbs until earlier this year when I grew Basil Ganovese supplied by Joe as part of the Joe Mills - Grow With Me for 2022. Now I'm hooked and in 2023 I'm trying two additional varieties of basil that are New for 2023 to Suttons and Organic Gardening Catalogue.

for 2023 Code 70 00 15 Basil Loki - Organic Gardening Catalogue - 140 Seeds - £1.99

Basil Loki is a new generation of Genovese basil armed with improved resistance to mildew and is the ultimate selection for organic growers. 

Downy mildew is a common problem with basil, and it can rapidly spread through neighbouring plants. Basil ‘Loki’ resists infection and has also been bred to adapt to our cooler UK climate, producing crops of bright green, healthy leaves throughout the summer. 

Sow under glass - Feb-June
Plant out              - May - June
Sow Outside        - June
Spacing                - 250mm x 250mm
Harvest                - June - October 

Sow in a propagator on a windowsill, cover with 5mm compost. Germination 14-21 days. Grow on, plant out after frosts 200 - 250mm apart. Can be sown direct outside in June. 
Height and spread: 300mm (12").

for 2023 Code 10 02 82 Basil Purple Ball - Suttons 15 Seeds - £3.99 

Basil ‘Purple Ball’ is so ornamental, it can even be used as a foliage filler alongside brightly coloured bedding in a container or window box. 

A Greek-style variety, it bears small, highly flavoured, purple leaves which naturally grow into a dense ball. Wonderful for edging veg beds or as a decorative addition to the kitchen window sill, this clove-flavoured culinary herb is indispensable for tomato-based dishes. Height and spread: 300mm (12”).