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Sowing Onions and Brassics. Paraffin Nostalgia

What a difference a day makes.

After the beautiful sunshine of yesterday, I hoped for fair weather today. Of course not. The sky was heavy, grey and threatening. I just knew that if I went to the allotment it would pour down. So, of course, it didn’t actually rain.


Smoke gets in your eyes.


Nipped down to the allotment sales shed in Ford Lane for 2 gallons of paraffin. Yes I know it should be 9.0922 litres but it was in gallons at ?2.70 a gallon. The colour is blue, which caused Val to break into song.


They asked me how I knew
It was Esso Blue
I of course replied
With lower grades one buys
Smoke gets in your eyes.


This, of course, brings me onto the subject of going well on Shell, Shell, Shell. Oh well, “The Milky Bar’s are on me”


If you have no idea what I’m on about – lucky you for being so young.


Greenhouse lighting


I decided to fix up a fluorescent in the greenhouse. It’s a five foot one we had in the loft and the small workshop light isn’t much use. I reckoned about 15 minutes. Some hour and a half later it was up. There’s a little clip that insists on falling out just as you get it up so it has to come down to refit. Repeat 6 times. Whoever designed it was probably Japanese and seeking revenge on us for WW2. He got it.


Seed Sowing


In my brilliantly lit greenhouse I sowed some seeds. Prompted by discussion in the forum, I bought some SHL seed compost. What lovely stuff it is as well, fine and light. I hope they all leap up. My wife, Val, says she thinks it makes a big difference to her flowers so in my ‘quality not just quantity’ plan, seed compost is the best start.


First though, the special onion bulblets I thought were leeks needed some attention. I’ve lost a couple and a few I doubted would grow have come on so the good were moved from the half seed tray into the modules. I now have 30 onions that may do well.


I expect they would do better with a more controlled climate and additional lighting to take them to 14 hours a day, but they get what I can do.


Next i sowed onions into seed trays. I’ve sowed as thinly as I can and will pick them out into modules when they are big enough to handle. In the seeds versus sets arguement, the fiddle of seed onions is a definate point to sets. Seed grown onions do seem to keep better though.


Onion Cultivars Sown:



  • Red Baron – a lovely red onion that goes well in salads or a cheese sandwich. Keeps well too, which is a bonus.

  • Ailsa Craig Prizewinner – from D T Brown. Apparently good for the show bench, I’ll see what the true value is later – eating and keeping.

  • Bedfordshire Champion – another white onion, mild with good storing characteristics.

Next, the brassicas. I don’t want too many so used some 4 inch half height pots. Too avoid using too much seed compost. I half filled these with all purpose compost and then topped up with seed compost.


Brassica Cultivars Sown:



  • Cauliflower Mayflower. A standard white cauliflower from Dobies

  • Cauliflower All Year Round. Another standard white.

  • Cabbage Greyhound. Did reasonably with these last year so I hope for even better this.

  • Cabbage Christmas Drumhead. I don’t know what happened to these last year. I can’t recall any success.  I can’t do any worse at least.

  • Cabbage Marner Lagerrot. A red cabbage with excellent storing properties.

  • Cabbage Fuego. Another red cabbage, an F1 this time

Despite having a heater in the greenhouse, it doesn’t get as warm as I’d like really. Next project may be some draught proofing although I don’t want it too tight. Some air changes are essential or I’ll have fungus growing etc.


I’ve popped the brassicas into the electric propogator to at least get them started and will check temperatures tomorrow.

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