Monday 31 October 2022

Seeds To Suit

I've only just become aware of Seeds to Suit and after a look on their web site it appears they are another seed supplier whose ethos is like that of a number of other smaller seed suppliers that allotment holders know and love like, 
Seeds to Sow, More Veg, Growseed, Simply Seeds, Premier Seeds Direct and Seed Megastore, etc. 

It will be interesting to see where they come in the updated league table when I update Before You Buy Seeds II  

Their mission statement is to "run an environmentally friendly business that uses little to no plastic and encourages zero waste. To that end all their packaging is fully recyclable, unless they reuse packaging they have received. Seeds are provided in quantities that are better suited for individual users, small holdings and allotments etc." 

As they point out on their web site who actually needs 2500 carrot seeds?
Not only do they want to offer their customers great pricing, but they also want to keep their costs to the environment as low as possible and encourage everyone to enjoy their gardens and vegetable patch and to be part of something even greater; to create spaces to encourage the bees, butterflies and all the insects that are so vital to our existence.

At the time of writing this blog posting, they only supply seeds within the UK and send their seeds via Royal mail (allow 3 - 5 days delivery when Royal Mail are not on strike, if they are, then obviously allow for that!) using a flat rate charge of £1.40

Seeds to Suit have been added to my list of UK seed suppliers in the left margin of this web site, and I will be looking at their web site when I come to topping up my seed box for 2023.  

Sunday 30 October 2022

A Quick Harvest

My daughter Emma popped into my allotment between rain showers late this afternoon and harvested some more Suttons Depurple Cauliflower and Cabbages.

Rain Stop Play Again!


The clocks have gone back, I had an extra hour in bed and got up thinking that the weather was going to be dry in the morning and wet in the afternoon. 

My daughters had arranged to keep an eye on my wife so I could get down to Avalon (my two half plots) to play with the mud and have a tidy up and harvest the last of the spuds in buckets and it's raining, and the rain appears to be in for the day now! 

So yes, at the moment I feel like a sad monkey.....

Friday 28 October 2022

In My Seed Box for 2023 - Mushroom Kits

The Suttons Autumn Catalogue new for 2023 Page 63 four different Large 7.5 litre Mushroom Kits

Now mushrooms are something that I have not grown before, and the catalogue says watch our video 

I have a Large 7.5 litre Mushroom kit sitting in my broom cupboard office and I will be growing mushrooms shortly as the days get shorter, the nights get darker and the cabin fever and lack of being able to grow much of anything takes hold. 

Mushrooms can be grown all year round which is a good thing for those of us that get growing withdrawal symptoms.      

Brown                           White Button                             Chestnut

King Oyster                         Oyster                                  Oyster Grey

Shitake                              White                                   Yellow

The "Brown" and "Chestnut" appear to be the same mushroom it's just that the KB9281 - 7.5 Litre kit in the Autumn Catalogue it's called "Brown" and the KC1121 - 3 Litre Kit it's called Chestnut for some reason. Both codes lead to a single web page for the Chestnut!

Thursday 27 October 2022

Allotment Crew

I have not been down the allotment much in the last couple of weeks due to the wet weather and being unable to get some cover to look after my wife as both my daughters were away together on a sister's long weekend holiday. 

My daughter Emma said, "I'm on an early shift on Thursday how would you like to meet me down the allotment after work", my answer was obviously "Yes" and so she and my son-in-law Andy met me down the allotment at 3:45pm for about an hour and a half of harvesting, weeding, laying woodchips and clearing foliage and cutting up and feeding to the Daleks. 

It's amazing how much you can get done when there are three of you working at the same time. With the clocks going back and the days getting shorter the opportunity for such visits will soon vanish, until late spring/summer.  

This is one of the 12 Cauliflower Depurple postiplugs from Suttons that I received back in June. This particular one the leaves had grown over the Cauliflower to protect it. I have the Cauliflower Depurple seeds in my seed box and will be growing these again next year, but if they get wiped out by another heatwave, I will have no hesitation in ordering in Suttons postiplugs again.

The other 11 are not getting protected and wrapped up by the leaves and are not quite as large as the one I harvested for Emma who cooked and had it as part of her evening meal and enjoyed the taste so much she is keen to harvest some more this Sunday.

I really can't complain about the Suttons Runner Beans "Best Of All" grown this year they have been really prolific and the more I harvested them the more they gave. At the moment they are 14% off at £2.99 for 45 bean seeds.

With the weather changing it was time to harvest and then strip the foliage back off the cantilever frame and chop it up and add to the Daleks. My neighbour and I have enough in a freezer, so my daughter is taking this last lot to her work to share with fellow nursery nurses.

Cleared Cantilever Runner Bean frame and Grapevine beds weeded and filled with woodchip. I'm thinking of making pockets in the woodchip and filling with compost next year and planting French beans either side of the vines.

View up the grapevine beds after weed clearing and wood chipping.

The Cabbages have done so well this year, next year some red ones for Andy. I must harvest the labels and see which varieties they were as I did sow a few varieties this year. Once I find out I will update this blog post with links back to their web pages.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

In My Seed Box for 2023 - Onions From Seed


Updated 26th Dec 2022

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 my old 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. 

In the beds where I have seen some white rot in 2022, I have grown Calient Mustard that's a great organic means of creating a soil environment that's uninviting to the disease.

Review of Seed Stock in Packets with sow by from 2022

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

Review of Seed Stock in Packets with sow by Dec 2025

Onion Galacticus Seeds - 100 Seeds - Dobies - £3.49

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.

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

Tuesday 25 October 2022

In My Seed Box For 2023 - 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

Monday 24 October 2022

In My Seed Box For 2023 - Leeks


Leeks are something I have tried and not been particularly successful with, In 2018 I had better success but grew them as baby type and eat them as large spring onions. In 2023 I'm going to have a bash at leeks again on Plot 1.

New For 2022 Autora F1  - 30 Seeds   - £3.60 - Mr Fothergill' - Sow By 2025

A very productive variety that’s reliable for autumn/ early winter crops. Plants are high-quality and non-bulbing with a delicious mild flavour.

Autora F1 has good resistance to rust and stands well in the ground, producing crops with impressive uniformity and easy to clean shanks. Bred from the same breeder as the popular variety Stromboli.

New For 2022 Lancelot   - 65 Seeds   - £2.49 - 16 71 52 - Suttons - Sow By 7/2024  

This variety of leek is a traditional-looking crop that grows dark green foliage with plants that do no bulb easily. Therefore, these provide straighter stems that are easy to grow on the veg patch and tastes wonderful. The 300 - 400mm long shanks develop a great proportion of white flesh and even more if you choose to earth them up.

'Lancelot' is a versatile crop in the kitchen and is an excellent addition to homemade soups, quiches and salads, or can be roasted for delicious Sunday dinners. Late autumn/early winter variety (Late August- January).

Sow thinly direct into a finely raked seedbed at a depth of 1.3cm (½") in rows 30cm (12") apart. (Germination 14-21 days). When ready to transplant make holes with a dibber 10-15cm (4-6") deep, 23cm (9") apart, drop a plant into each and fill with water to settle soil around the roots. Allow 38cm (15") between rows. To blanch, draw up earth to stems as growth develops. Leeks do well on most soils especially if well prepared. Can also be started off in trays.

Alphabetical Listing of Varieties historically grown 

                                                  Sowing          Sowing         Plant                Harvest
                                                  Indoors          Outdoors     Out 

Atal (Baby type)                                               Apr- Jul                                  Jun- Oct
Blue Green Winter                  
 Jan - Mar         Apr - May       May- Jun         Oct - Mar
Bulgaarse Reuzen Lincoln                               Mar- Apr                                Jul - Oct
De Carentan 2                                                  Mar- May                               Oct - Feb
Herfstuezen 3 - Porvite             Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr         May- Jul          Oct - Mar
Musselburgh (Mr Fothergill's)    Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr        May- Jul          Oct - Mar
Musselburgh Wilko                    Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr        May- Jun         Oct - Mar
Musselburgh Seed Tape T&M                          Mar- Apr                                Sep - Jan
Nipper                                                               Mar - Jun                               May -

Sunday 23 October 2022

No Plot Visit Today!


What to expect

  • Spray and sudden flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures

  • There is a small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail or strong winds

  • Where flooding or lightning strikes occur, there is a chance of delays and some cancellations to train and bus services

  • There is a slight chance that power cuts could occur and other services to some homes and businesses could be lost

Saturday 22 October 2022

In My Seed Box For 2023 - 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 to the Salvation Army lady who used to live around the corner from me.

I've not grown Marrow between 2020 and 2022. I see Marrow as a bed filler if I don't have anything else planned. 
Marrows are ideal for making sure that you reach the required cultivation level for the plot inspection, and that you supress the weeds as much as possible. You just have to be careful as they like to explore the neighbouring plots if not kept in check.  

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. I will not be buying from Jungle Seeds again.

Friday 21 October 2022

Fun Item For 2023 - Gourd "Luffa" Sponge

My fun item for 2023 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. 

I grew some in 2022 but the heatwave wiped them out. 

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 20 October 2022

In My Seed Box For 2023 - Lettuce


Updated 18th December 2022

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 2023 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 with Sow By 2020

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

Review Of Seed Stocks with Sow By 2021

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 

Review Of Seed Stocks with Sow By 2022

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

Review Of Seed Stocks with Sow By 2023

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

Review Of Seed Stocks with Sow By 2024

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 

Review Of Seed Stocks with Sow By 2025

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
Mustard Leaves (Autumn Sowing)  - 500 Seeds - £2.49  - Dobies - Sow By 2025

Review Of Seed Stocks with Sow By 2026

Little Gem (Pasatiempo)   - 500 Seeds - £2.00^        - Johnsons  - Sow By 2026
^Bought in 50% off wilko seed sale

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