Seeds, slugs and spring-like weather

January has so far been incredibly mild here and there are some things in the garden that think it’s spring.

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Now, I’m not daft enough to imagine for one moment that winter has finished with us yet – no doubt it’s still all to come – but that hasn’t stopped me making the most of several days in the sunshine. The weeds are making the most of it too, so first job was to run a hoe round the garlic bed. Only one clove has failed to grow so there are 71 white ‘Germidour’ plants and 18 ‘Pink Germidour’ which ought to be plenty for the two of us. I’ve left more space between the rows this year for salad crops, beetroot, etc, and maybe even some earlier carrots in the hope the whole companion planting thing works?

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Sadly, it’s not such good news where the overwintering Japanese ‘Hi-Keeper’ onions are concerned. As all things allium grow so well here I thought these would be a really good idea, giving us an early crop. Unfortunately, soon after planting, a hyperactive mole tunnelled the entire bed in one night, ploughing up the lot. Result: 14 rather pathetic looking little onions out of 60. Thanks a bunch, mole. 😦 I’ve transplanted them into a small bed together, but looking on the bright side I suppose it makes room for other things.

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There is still plenty to smile about, though. Clearing an old mesclun row where the lettuce had died back weeks ago I found endive and radicchio having another go. I love the way they do this, they’re such tough characters and so I’ve decided to grow radicchio ‘Palla Rossa’on it’s own this year as well as in a mix.

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The autumn-planted chervil is thriving and adding it’s delicate aniseed flavour to our salads. Don’t be taken in by it’s dainty appearance, it’s as tough as old boots and keeps on going, unlike the outdoor coriander which has finally given up the ghost.

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Kale has been a staple green for many weeks now and in the absence of any decent cabbages, I wish I’d grown more. The standard ‘Cavolo Nero’ just goes on and on, the ‘Fizz’ too has been great and is so attractive (I’d happily put it in a flower bed) but I spy flower heads starting to form…

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Inside the tunnel, the salads are enjoying the warm temperatures, but so too are the beasties. Someone has been tucking into the oriental leaves…

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…and it didn’t take me long to find the culprit lurking in a ‘Winter Density’ lettuce.

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Your lurking days are over, slimy one. Oddly enough, the rocket has barely been touched and the lamb’s lettuce is nibble-free so these are obviously slugs with discerning tastes.

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I’ve planted a few more small rows of salad as we shall be relying on them heavily during the ‘hungry’ gap in spring. No need to plant any coriander though, it’s popping up all over like a rash.

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Much of the ground outside is still soggy but the freer-draining areas are very workable so the Big Dig has started. First up was the patch inside the gate. This started life as a soft fruit bed but I planted the gaps with annual flowers last year and there was quite a mess to clear. I need the space for herbs and veg this year but no doubt those rampant self-setters – calendula, borage, Californian poppy and phacelia –  will sneak in when my back is turned. That’s fine, but they may find themselves under a little more control this year!

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The next job is to dig the whole area including under the black polythene across to the soft fruit bed, just leaving a couple of small paths. It’s all couch grass so that should keep me out of mischief for a while…

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Finally, some planting. In the tunnel, I’ve started off a tray of ‘Greyhound’ summer cabbage that did so well last year, and also ‘Ailsa Craig’ white onions and ‘Grenada’ red’ onions. (It will be an athletic mole that makes it up onto the potting bench to tunnel that lot…) In the heated propagator are four types of pepper, all from vegetableseeds.net: sweet pepper ‘Long Red Marconi’ and chilli peppers ‘Scotch Bonnet’, ‘Long Slim’ and ‘Habenero Orange.’ Planted on 8th January, the last two are already up which is good news as there’s still ‘Nardello’, ‘Paprika Kalocsai’ and a hot Jalepeno to go in, not to mention the tomatoes, squashes, aubergines, melons… mmm, so good to see those little seedlings again! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Seeds, slugs and spring-like weather

  1. Good stuff! I only had 1 cabbage so I didn’t need many slugs to see to that. I think in the last two years I’ve managed to have 1 cabbage worth eating!

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  2. Looks like you’ve been busy. Must be beginner’s luck for me the cabbage savoy ‘best of all’ bought last year form vegetableseeds.net has done really well – despite being covered with caterpillars in the autumn and very heavily munched they are now developing heads. Maybe it could be just because of this freaky warmish weather I have no idea but I’m going to give it a go again next year. I’ve bought Fizz seeds it looks fantastic hope it tastes good. Moles don’t you just love them – I have a large stone at the top of the garden where I put mole ‘contributions’ – things they have dug up – the best yet has been an intact indicator bulb!

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    • The ‘Fizz’ is tasty, we tend to combine it with the ‘Cavolo Nero’ kale and any rainbow chard to hand (note to your chef: we shred it, fry in a little butter & olive oil with s & p, slosh in a glug of white wine and stir in a couple of generous dollops of crème fraiche – it’s delicious). Mmm, moles – what’s to be done with them? They’ve got acres to roam in so why target the veg patch every time? I like the idea of your ‘mole stone’, our son Sam (who’s studying geophysics) tells me this is a good area for emeralds – well, I suppose if one of those turns up, I might even forgive the little blighters! 🙂

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