Sunday, November 12, 2006

Veg vs flowers

It's the start of Year 3 in my allotment so I thought to celebrate I'd start a separate blog. I really do about as much on the allotment as I do in my flower garden, and seeing as part of my allotment (i.e. a greenhouse and coldframe) is actually in my garden, the two are very much linked - but the allotment is kind of special in its own right and growing veggies is becoming such a passion of mine I thought I'd give myself another forum to go on about it in.

Today, since it's the start of next season, I spent sowing seeds. I already sowed my broad beans last month (Aquadulce Claudia) in the coldframe at home - they're four inches high and doing very well, but I'm now a bit paranoid that I've sown them too early and they'll cop it between now and February.

But today I sowed the early peas (Feltham First), three to a 3 1/2 inch pot and now on a bench in the greenhouse. Mice nick them at the allotment, and if any escape the mice the slugs get them, so I sow them at home where I can protect them - the bench is to stop the mice getting them here, too!

I also planted my garlic - this year I bought some in from the Organic Gardening Catalogue rather than saving my own from last year's crop. I'd been finding the bulbs were getting smaller and smaller - not sure if it was to do with cultivation or to do with the dwindling viability of the garlic cloves. They certainly tasted good, and were slow to green, so for eating they've been very good - just not for growing on.

Anyway, I'm starting again with new, organically-grown Thermidor cloves this year. They're certainly a lot fatter than my own poor specimens, so I'm quite hopeful. I'm planting them in pots and keeping them at home, as I do each year - I find it's easier to keep an eye on them this way, and the multipurpose gives them a good start. They do still need a hoop of chicken wire over them to stop the squirrels giving them an experimental tug, but that's not difficult.

I'm sowing two rows this year, 15 plants to an 11-foot row, but I have to say it's all very well having fat cloves but the pack of three bulbs I bought from the Organic Gardening Catalogue left me short by four cloves (and that was with planting all the little ones, too). So I took a few cloves off some shop-bought garlic we had in the kitchen, variety unknown! Not what you're meant to do, since shop-bought garlic can have viruses, but I'll take the risk and see if I can spot the four rogues when they come up next year...!