It’s been one of those weeks for me. The back continues to keep me from doing too much outside as the cold really brings the pain on. I believe it’s due to muscles contracting and tensing up when I get cold. I’ve tried wearing a self-heating back pad but it isn’t totally effective. The good news is that it is getting a lot better, many thanks to my wonderful osteopath.
Storm Ciara has passed over, shaking the greenhouses and threatening to take the slates off the roof. Having said that, I don’t think it’s been as bad here as they were warning. We’ve certainly had worse. Now it’s Storm Denace the Menace raging outside. We’ve had worse in the past but it’s still pretty nasty out there. Still past time to start this year’s sowing and growing.
I’ve decided to cut back on potatoes this year. I grew too many last and there’s no point in growing something that will be wasted. I’m trying a new – to me – first early in the polytunnel. The variety is Colleen which is from Ireland. It’s described as being very high-yielding with a uniform oval shaped, waxy tubers. Picked up these from our garden centre where you can select your own seed tubers and pay by weight. I went for smaller tubers than usual because I’ll be growing undercover and expect them to be as productive as larger tubers.
Outside I’ll be growing Estima. They’re a second early I grew last year and they’re keeping really well, very few sprouting. For eating, they’re a nice ‘all rounder’ spud, good chippers. I may plant a few Sarpo Mira as well. They’re a real banker – whatever the weather or blight conditions you can bank on Mira coming through.
It’s time to start the tomatoes off. Being well equipped with propagation equipment and growlights I could start them off earlier if I wanted. With the Vitopod it’s possible to add additional layers and grow some quite large plants at any time of the year. I think this is about the right time for our area.
I’ll be a bit restrained on what I grow this year. Sungold is a must, it’s just so easy and so sweet too. Perfect for little ‘uns. Rather than Ailsa Craig, a lovely old variety, I’ll try the newer, more greenback resistant Craigella.
For a plum tomato I’ll be growing San Marzano. Most of the plum varieties tend to be bush types which take up a fair space. Growing outdoors is very dicey here too. San Marzano, is a cordon variety which should give a good crop from little space.
Then I’ve a couple of black varieties to try. Black Krim is a cordon, heirloom beefsteak variety from the Crimea producing large fruits with real flavour. Black Cherry is a cordon black variety with, as the name says, small fruits.
At the beginning of March I’ll sow some Red Alert – a very early outdoor tomato and Heartbreaker, a a patio variety that performs well outdoors given half decent weather. Worth a try and a bonus if they succeed.
I picked up a pack of mixed varieties at the garden centre, so a bit ‘pot luck’. They should do well in the polytunnel border and I may try inter-planting some with the tomatoes in the greenhouse border.
After much discussion, this year I’m allowed to grow two plants. Padron and Cayenne. Both are mild – neither of us can cope with the super-hot, nuclear-powered varieties. Most often they get dried and ground up into powder for use anyway. See Chilli Peppers in the Allotment Shop
I didn’t do so well with aubergines last year – I’m blaming the weather. Even in the greenhouse the warmth and sunshine was lower than normal. I’ll be growing Black Beauty again and trying Aubergine Pinstripe for a change.
After last year’s performance, sweet potatoes are off my list. In my situation they’re not good value in terms of space, cost and effort. We don’t eat many anyway so we’ll just have to buy them.
I’ll start the first sowings in half-size seed trays. These can go out when they’ve started. Hopefully this year the chickens won’t get them! In fact I’ve some old pea seeds that I may try sprouting for the chooks. First variety I’m sowing is Douce Provence and the second is good old Kelvedon Wonder. Both are fairly dwarf, early varieties that may survive our conditions. Maybe worth trying some in the polytunnel too.
I’ve got some Aquadulce Claudia planted last autumn doing well in the walled veg plot. I’ll be starting the beans in pots, I find I can get much better germination in a controlled Environment. Firstly, Karmazyn. They’re a delicious red bean, a dwarf variety that do OK here. I’ll also be growing Masterpiece Green Longpod – great for freezing, very productive full sized variety. See Broad Beans in the Allotment Shop