Thursday, 20 February 2014

Starting Seeds!!

Growing tip of Inca Berry bush

With all the craziness of life of late, I've sorely missed gardening.  This made worse by the never-ending rain and single snowfall since Christmas.  So I was thrilled when mid-February rocked around so I can finally get started sowing some of the million seeds I have been accumulating over the past six months.

The most exciting for me is probably the chillis.  This year I have really gone all out when deciding on varieties to try.  We eat chillis in every meal, so really I am thrilled to have an entire propagator devoted to them.

This is also my new propagator I got from Suttons - it's meant to make it easier to remove the seedlings without damaging the roots.  I'll let you know how it goes on that front.  Last year I had issues with a capillary mat propagator where the roots grew through the mat, often before the seedling emerged to a point where it could be handled properly, so there was a lot of damage when getting them out.

I may have gone a bit overboard in my excitement at being able to sow some seeds...

Setting the seeds out before they're covered up
So here is my list of what's been sown thus far:

  • Nosferatu (thanks for the seed Mark!)
  • De Cayenne
  • Purple Flash
  • Cayenne Apache
  • Habanero Black Stinger
  • Scotch Bonnet Big Sun
  • Black Pearl
  • Numex Pinata
  • Capsicum Calico
  • Numex Twilight (Thanks again Mark)
Sweet Peppers
  • Mohawk
  • Organic Nardello
  • Bellboy
  • Worldbeater
  • Purple Calabash
  • Great White
  • Peardrops (trailing)
  • Black Russian
  • Reinhard's Goldkirsche
  • Roma
  • Health Kick
  • Red Cherry
  • Green Giant
  • Golden Sunrise
  • Green Zebra
  • Oxheart
  • Moneymaker
  • White Queen
  • Perfection
  • Marketmore
  • Black Beauty Dark Fog
  • Organic Nero Di Milano
  • Early Gem
  • Piccolo
  • White Bush Marrow 
  • Vegetable Spaghetti
  • Black Futsu
  • Cornell's Delicata
  • Sweet Dumpling
  • Butternut
  • Crown Prince
  • Honeybear
  • Black Beauty
Broad Beans
  • Super Aquadulce
  • Masterpiece Green Longpod
  • Sutton Dwarf

  • Watermelon Crimson Sweet


  • Russian Comfrey
  • Thai Basil
  • Black Cumin
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Green Mint
  • Marigold (I know not strictly a herb but its in with them haha)
  • Lovage
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Cherry Belle
  • Summer Cross (Mooli)
These were all planted 19th February.  You may think this is a little early for some of these, but we are going on holiday for the last two weeks of March and I wanted to be able to re-pot seedlings before we go preferably, rather than them come up while we're away when I can't look after them.

This year is very much an experimental year for my veg garden.  I haven't grown most of theses varieties before so its exciting to try them out and see what I like and what new tastes I can discover!  And this is just February's planting! 

Here's a wee look at the greenhouse right now.  Mostly fleeced chillis overwintering and a bunch of thriving strawberry plants

Please excuse the floor and pallet mess - the floor was never finished by the previous tenant in our house and I was too anxious to get started to get it finished properly last year.  Maybe this year will be the year it gets done!

Those luscious green plants who haven't yet realised it's winter are my Inca berries, who have grown without issue throughout the winter and have thrived on my lack of watering neglect throughout my busy work life.  Well done Inca Berries!!

Lovely big leaves soaking up the sun
Since this will be their second year I hope to see some fruiting going on soon!

Another plant that already seems to have decided winter is over is my Goji berry.  

Blackcurrant is starting to produce some lovely pink/purple buds!

This will be the second year for my blackcurrant and my goji berry plants, so I'm hoping for some fruit this summer.  We'll see!!  I bought them as small plants from Sainsbury's last spring and they've come a long, long way since.  Particularly the goji, who I'm convinced is trying to grow tall enough to escape the garden over the fence.

That black area is not rot or fungus, I'd just been handling rather a lot of soil and was holding the top of the plant while I examined the buds

As I was out in the greenhouse today I could really feel the warm sun on my back.  The days are getting warmer, and the rain and winds are dying down a bit.  It really does feel like winter never really quite got here, and spring really does seem round the corner.  Which means there will be more seed sowing to show you soon!


  1. You have been busy! About three chilli plants is enough for me, but I must get them sown.

    1. Yes get sowing!! A lot of "standard" varieties of chilli I noticed say March as a sowing guide, but all the specialist varieties I ordered stated Late Winter to Early Spring, which is a bit more open depending on the weather! As I said, the weather here is starting to improve, and the greenhouse has the excellent feature of cutting out the chilling wind (which otherwise is a reasonably mild day) so its the warmest place to be!

  2. Wow what a lot of work, good luck. I went over board on tomatoe varieties this year and am now having to deal with the glut.

    1. Last year I definitely under planted, particularly my tomatoes. They were very prolific, but I didn't realise how many tomatoes we actually eat just between me and my husband so we were having to buy in some fresh ones every so often. I'm hoping for more of a glut, because I can make sauces and freeze them for use over winter, or share my crop with lots of family who also eat a lot of tomatoes. Sadly I didn't have enough for storage purposes this year either. I'm wanting to try out a huge range of varieties so next year I can really focus on the ones I like most. Up until now I've only grown variations of red tomatoes haha

  3. Crikey that is a lot of varieties of everything - are you renting a small holding? We are still holding fire on the seed sowing front.

    1. Haha yes it is! Believe it or not I actually have a huge garden, its just last year I didn't get much use of anywhere but the greenhouse. It's slabbed all over, so this year I am removing a lot of the slabs and putting in beds.

      I wanted to get at least most of my seeds to seedling stage so I can pot on before I go on holiday Mid-March (a.k.a prime seed sowing time). Last year I had so many germination issues with the colder weather, so lost a lot of seeds, and even those that made it to summer, a lot of couldn't take the heat. So I'm trying my utmost to preserve a good crop this year by excessive seed planting...of course now that I've been so over cautious you know sod's law will mean I don't lose a single seed or plant and I'll be bombarded with glut! Oh well, my father in law is starting his Indian restaurant later this year - I'm sure he wouldn't mind a supply of fresh chillis and tomatoes!

  4. Go chillis, go! I have sowed some too, so let's hope it's not too early..... Is that Inca Berry similar to Tomatillo? The leaves look quite similar.

    1. Yes, I'm sure they could benefit from this longer growing season in the long term!

      Yes, I'm not sure of the exact relation between Incas and Tomatillos, but they must be very closely related. The Inca Berries produce pale orangey golden fruits in a papery case, much like Tomatillos. From what I know about Tomatillos their fruits are either green or purple. I'm not sure if maybe Inca Berries are meant to be sweeter? I've never actually tasted either yet. I might try Tomatillo another year and compare the tastes, but we'll see how I get on with these Inca's first!

  5. Maybe the inca berry is like the Physalis or Cape Gooseberry then? That has sweet golden fruits. I grew some Tomatillos once and they produced a massive crop but I thought the fruit a bit insipid and nowhere near as versatile as the tomato.

    1. Yes the Inca Berry is also known as the Cape Gooseberry. I was planning to use the berries mainly in smoothies, but I'm anxious to see the fresh taste and texture as well. I will certainly let you know what they're like when I get some!

  6. Wow, your really looking to be organised with your growing and sowing. I'll soon be doing the same in a few weeks - sowing seed. Then its all go!

    1. Yes I'm trying to get organised before I go on holiday in mid-March. Seed sowing time is always exciting, it always holds so much promise!