Sunday 4 March 2007

Today in the garden ... stuff in pots

This is the time of year when blogging has to take second place to the frenzy of seed sowing and labelling. And I really ought to clean that keyboard.

I dunno about you, but this is one of my favourite times of the gardening year, when spring is just looking imminent enough that I can allow myself to start sowing a lot of the seeds I've been stockpiling over the winter.

As you can see, if the labels are legible, that includes all my special rare varieties of pea from the Heritage Seed Library, and some of my home-made F1 hybrids. I'm having to start again with a new batch of seeds for my purple pea experiment after a nasty storm last October destroyed my F1 plants just as the pods were starting to swell (c'est la guerre). Like a good little plant breeder I had kept a stash of spare F1 seed, so although it was very frustrating at the time it isn't a complete disaster. It just sets me back one generation, and at least I had the pleasure of seeing how beautiful they were and finding out their flower colour.

Newly sprouted Cheltenham Green Top beetroot seedlings. At top right you can just see one of my other beetroot seedlings, Golden, which already has golden yellow stems in contrast to the pink and green. Both of these are very old heritage varieties but still commercially available.

There are a few things already sprouting away in various trays and pots on window sills, like these cute beetroot seedlings. Beetroot usually sprouts two or three plants from each 'seed', because the seeds are actually not single seeds at all, but multi-seeded corky fruits rather charmingly known as glomerules. You have to thin them of course, but I'm too sentimental to kill them so I carefully separate them all and replant them ... they seem to cope quite happily with that.

No matter how experienced a gardener you think you are there's always plenty of scope to screw things up. I sowed some onion seeds a couple of weeks ago in a module tray in the cold frame, and when the bubblewrap which was supposed to be providing frost protection got a big puddle of water in it, I managed to dump it straight onto the seed tray in a great kersploosh which washed all the compost and seeds into oblivion. D'oh!

These are gorgeous and I've never seen anything quite like them. Purple Prince on the left has a vibrant true purple colour and every bean is different, while on the right with its striking blood-like sploshes is the less romantically named Dog Bean.

And the seeds are still coming in: these lovely beans just arrived from Patrick at Bifurcated Carrots as part of a blogger seed swap (he'll be getting some of my groovy coloured spuds in return). It's too early to sow these yet, so I'll have to restrain myself until the season is properly underway. Beans grow very rapidly and they're sensitive to cold buffetting winds as well as frosts, so sowing them too early is a recipe for shredded and bedraggled plants.

Talking of shredded and bedraggled, kitten crashed through a wickerwork fence today. *sigh*


Anonymous said...

The dog bean is also sometimes a little more romantically called the Dalmatian bean. It's one of many variations of a bean called Jacob's Cattle. I found the dog bean to be much more prolific.

Carol Michel said...

I'm also getting ready to sow seeds for my garden, mostly tomatoes and peppers now, others will have to wait a few weeks, as our frost-free date is not until mid-May.