Thursday, 15 March 2007

Start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start...

Went to the plot at about half one. I can on Thursdays because that's my regular day off at the moment. I try to get down on Sundays too, preferably before noon as there is a shop there run by the site committee members that sells all you need at very reasonable prices. The staff know what they are talking about, which makes a change from most chain stores!
I think its something very English and very parochial and as such should be preserved by the very people it exists to serve. Walking into the shop on a Sunday morning, light breaking through the dust covered windows onto the concrete floor and the old wooden shelves, you catch a glimpse of another world.
Anyway, back to today. The soil is starting to warm up and dry out. Its a good sign. Almost ready to plant out and sow seeds. Not yet though, still a chance of a late frost so I'm playing safe.
To that end , I've pulled last year's old plastic greenhouse and set it back up at the sunny end of the shed.
Its a cheap way of starting out in veg growing as it costs under £50 and can take about four seed trays on each of its four shelves. Ventilation is via a zip front which can be rolled up to a desired level and tied off.
Its essential to ventilate and water without fail on a daily basis with any sort of greenhouse or cloche as the temperatures can go well into the hundreds on even a cloudy day. Seedlings will bake and end up literally fried within a few hours. As defeatist as it may sound, it pays to have some sort of shading to cool the air inside down if necessary.

I have a smaller version(right) at home to start off some of the more demanding seeds. It is about a quarter of the size of the one at the plot and only takes six trays at a squeeze but is invaluable for early crops.I managed to fill two carrier bags full of broccoli spears and purple sprouting from the plot today. That equates to about £20 in Tesco!

I was amazed to see how much 'Tenderstem' broccoli is selling for, when ALL my home grown broccoli is tender! My wife makes a stunning soup using the stems and smaller leaves as well as the broccoli heads and it's delicious. The purple seems to be in vogue right now so I seemed to have lucked in like I did last year with the butternut squash. Couldn't get enough of those either!I can't predict what will be the super food of 2007 but I hope beetroot or onion as I've found my soil is great for those two!

The bottom line is I have to see what grows. To that end I bought a bag of seed compost from the Trading Hut at the site last Sunday and a few seed trays divided into cells. I want to see if root disturbance has cost me successes in the past so I'm going to trial the cells this year and see how it results.

Watch this space!

I already have radish seedlings showing out in the open so there is life already. It's a positive start to, what I hope will be, a positive , productive year!

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