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Time to Sow Despite Cold Weather

Sad Time

Although the weather has been beautiful here for the last couple of days, I haven’t gone down to the plot. Basically our little cat, Chani, was ill and had a biopsy on Thursday. Unfortunately she had bone cancer and was losing the use of both her back legs. The procedure exacerbated the problem and we took her up for the last time on Friday. She’s now buried in our back garden.

Sowing Time

Although the weather is improving, in fact almost springlike, we have more cold weather to come and probably some snow as well. Yet soon enough, it will be spring and so it’s time to sow a few things.

First thing was to get some of the salad crops sown. For the benefit of the novice, I’m going to walk through this slowly.

With peppers and tomatoes, you don’t need too many plants. But seeds don’t all germinate so as a rule of thumb, I put about 4 times as many seeds into the pot than plants I want. Because seed compost is relatively expensive, I am trying to avoid using too much and re-use some as well.

So I take a 2?” pot and half fill it with all purpose compost. Then I top up with seed compost to just under the rim. Next I water it thoroughly in a tray without holes so the excess can soak back up into the compost and leave for five minutes. Easier to do this in a batch.

Take the pot and drain and you will notice the compost level has dropped a little so top up with a little more compost and level off. Don’t compact the compost, you want plenty of air and the loose mixture will allow the roots to get going easily.

Now spread the seeds as evenly as you can around the pot. I use concentric circles. With little seeds you may find it helpful to use a blunt pencil or a plant label to pick them up one at a time. Wet the end and it will work.

Finally, a light dusting of fine compost over the top and gently water in. I use a houseplant watering can with a fine rose.

One point on watering – don’t use cold water straight from the tap. Use tepid water so you don’t chill the plants. I just add enough hot to take the chill off when you dip a finger in.

All of the following require a temperature around 20? C to get them going so they go into the heated propagator in the bedroom.

  • Aubergine – Black Beauty. I just want a couple of plants of this standard cultivar. Although you can get many fancy varieties, this suits our culinary tastes.

  • Tomato – Garden Pearl. We want two plants eventually so these were sown into a 1″ pot. A really nice tasting dwarf bush cv that we usually have in pots in the garden.

  • Tomato – Sungold. The sweetest tasting tomato I have ever had. A prolific and vigerous cordon cv. We will want two plants or maybe three of this.

  • Tomato – Big Boy. I wasn’t successful with this beefsteak cv last year so I’m trying again.

  • Tomato – Ailsa Craig. An old variety I’ve not grown before but supposed to have good flavour.

  • Tomato – Plum Roma. I grew this bush variety outside last year and it was very good, so hoping for half a dozen good plants.

  • Peppers – Hot & Spicy. Not too bad last year although I wouldn’t call them hot.

  • Pepper – Cayenne. A generic cheapo seed but we’ll see how this does.

  • Pepper – Habanero. From the organic catalogue, a Mexican tongue burner, I hope

  • Pepper – Golden Californian Wonder. A sweet pepper, again from the organic catalogue. I’ve not grown this one before.


Next job was to sow some leeks. These have gone into a deep 10″ pot and a plant trough. I want to give them plenty of depth to get a god root going and have sown them as thinly as you can with a tiny black seed onto dark compost.

The trough is on the base of the greenhouse and the pot in the coldframe as leeks don’t require a high temperature to get started but I want them to be a little warmer than outside,

You can start them in an outside seedbed but I find they do better like this, as long as they aren’t too crowded in the pots.

I’ve started to varieties –

  • Leek Lyon – this is an Unwin’s heritage variety from the 1880s which stands well and is quite mild. you can harvest when about pencil thin and add to stir fries or leave it to thicken and stand as any other leek.

  • Leek Autumn Giant 2 Argenta – I got these seeds free from Thompson & Morgan and am looking forward to seeing how they perform

I may sow some more leeks in a few weeks depending how these germinate.

Web Site

I’ve been playing about with some things on the site. you may notice the title has changed on some pages and a few other things are going on in the back end. If you come and get a strange error message, just come back in a few minutes. Not all things go as per plan!

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