Seed Sorting, First Sowings and Seed Potatoes

It’s been snowing all day here.

Earlier, I walked down to my allotment to check it over and it looked beautiful:


Unfortunately my nets have taken a battering!  I cleared the snow off them but I will have to sort them out properly another day:



Over the last two weeks I have been sorting all of my seeds out.


As I have four allotments, I do need a lot of seeds.  I have a spreadsheet with all the seed packets listed on it, this way I know every single packet of seed that I have and the date they need to be used by (though some seeds I keep an awful lot longer than the date on the packet e.g. brassicas, as I know they will be ok to use a long time after the ‘sow by’ date).

 I do have a weakness with seeds and I find it hard to resist a free packet or a bargain, so after sorting them out I found I had quite a few duplicates.  I have never sold seeds on EBay before, but as there were so many I decided to give it a try.  I’m not sure if they will sell or not, but I will let you know.


During the next week I will be sitting down and working out exactly what vegetables and salads I want to grow on my allotment this year.  After this I will work out a month by month plan, showing exactly when to sow my seeds and whether the seeds need heat or not.  I will show you the end results after I have completed this.


Over the last two weeks I have sowed my first seeds for 2013.  Before I did this I made some more seed labels and in Mrs Thrift fashion, I made them for free.

All I use is an old plastic milk bottle that has been washed out.


I cut it up into labels, with a point at one end and write the plant type on the label in permanent ink.


The seeds I sowed were sweet peppers, coriander, basil, leeks and onions.  I have put these in a propagator on my window sill until they germinate, at which time the propagator lids will come off.  The leeks will then go into my unheated greenhouse,  while the others will be grown inside my house, where it is warmer.


I also planted some more garlic.  Previously I planted some garlic at my allotment, but it has been so wet that hardly any have grown and I suspect they have actually rotted in the ground.  As a back up, I have planted some more in pots, which I will keep in my cold greenhouse for now.


The broadbeans that I planted in December are just poking there heads through the compost, so I am really pleased with this.  These were planted into cardboard toilet roll tubes.


Unfortunately, the broad beans I planted in pots at the end of October are really very leggy and probably won’t make very good plants now.  Unfortunately they are the result of mild weather and the fact that I haven’t been able to plant them into my allotment, due to the ridiculous amount of wet weather we have had for weeks on end.   I may just plant them in my polytunnel to see what happens.


My two free strawberry plants from Spalding bulbs are still sitting nicely in my cold greenhouse.  I will plant them in the spring.


Last week I brought my seed potatoes.  I usually buy them from a place called ‘Hawgrips’ which is in Enderby, Leicester.  I like to buy them early as I get a bigger choice of varieties to choose from and I make sure I get the ones I want.  I also like the fact that you buy them loose, rather than in bags, as I work out exactly how many I need and just count them into bags.

I have chosen my usual two favourites:

Marfona (A second early) and

Picasso (an early maincrop so this helps to miss the blight).

This year I have decided to also grow ‘Desiree’ potatoes, after much discussion with one of my fellow allotment friends.  I had such a big problem with slugs last year and my friends’ Desiree potatoes didn’t seem to have a problem, so I thought I’d try them.  I let you know how I get on.


When I bought the potatoes home, I put them into trays to ‘chit’ them.  ‘Chitting’ just means that you are encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before you plant them outside.  All you need to do is stand the tubers with the eyes facing upwards, in trays or old egg boxes.


Contrary to popular belief, chitting potatoes is not essential, except for early varieties, to produce an earlier maturing crop.  However, if you buy your main crop early like I do, then you may as well ‘chit’ them as well.

Place the potatoes in a cool, light place.  I leave mine in our bedroom, as it’s the coolest room in the house…so romantic!

I hope we have a better crop of potatoes to harvest this year, as they were full of slug holes in 2012.

Last years potato crop

Last years potato crop

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

30 thoughts on “Seed Sorting, First Sowings and Seed Potatoes

  1. I know what you mean about the garlic. I planted mine in the ground last month and now they have been under snow for almost a week I dread to think how many won’t have survived.

    • You will probably find the snow won’t be a problem…it’s the wet that causes the most problems as they rot in the ground. I hope your garlic is ok. You will have to let me know if it grows after all this snow.

  2. In Rome for a romantic weekend away with DH – grandma has the three hormonal whirlwinds but now I want to get back home and plant things in toilet rolls! As an absolute beginner with no garden what do you suggest? X

    • If you want to plant something now, you can plant broadbeans in pots or toilet rolls. You need a hardy variety like ‘Aquadulce’, which can normally be put in a cold greenhouse or coldframe but I would holdfire until this cold snap has past. Peppers, basil and corianda can be started on your windowsill, in a propagator or with a plastic bag over until it germinates. Leave them on your windowsill in the warm, as none of them can go outside in the cold.

      Hope this helps you. Next month there will be other things to sow and I’ll post these nearer the time for you. Let me know what you decide to sow.

      Forgot to say…enjoy your weekend away.

  3. We’ve grown Desiree potatoes on our allotment for the last 3 years. They have been brilliant and we wouldn’t buy anything else as a maincrop now. We’ve had really good crops from them without slug damage.

  4. Great post, thats a great idea with the labels, thanks, i will do that save a fortune, i have grown picasso and got a first for them, a lovely potato good for everything, i must get myself organised!

  5. I did enjoy reading your blog today. Lovely snow pic, real snowman weather. This is the time to sort out those seeds while the ground is so cold. What a wonderful collection you have.
    The plastic milk bottle hint is one I’ll be using. Cut’s down on a bit of landfill and saves the expense of buying labels.

    • Hi Jean, I love the thought of gardening again as I have been missing it recently. It’s been so wet and now we have the snow, which will wet it even more when it thaws! Glad you like the ‘milk bottle labels’….anything for free is good to me lol. I’m hoping to feature more gardening in my posts now hristmas is out of the way.

  6. It’s strange how many parts of this post could apply to us.

    We have five plots and have all our seeds listed on a spreadsheet – we add sowing/planting/germination dates/comments to this throughout the season. A link is from the top of my blog.

    We cut up tall yoghurt pots to use as plant labels.

    I plant garlic in a large tub in our cold greenhouse as an insurance policy against the cloves planted on the plot rotting. The tub will come out of the greenhouse later when the cloves will be left in place to grow on.

    We go in for early potatoes rather than maincrop to try avoid the impact of blight and have chosen Marfona as one of our choices this year.

    • Great minds think alike! I really like Marfona potatoes as they taste so delicious when you first dig them up and pop a bit of butter on top. I think us gardeners have to prepare for all types of weather now, as the seasons are so strange. Like you said, we need to have plants in reserve as an ‘insurance policy’.
      I’ll pop over to your blog and have a look at your link….By the sound of it,I bet your list will look just like mine lol.

  7. Hi, Thanks for your comment on my blog – I just put my potatoes out for chitting I will only be growing Charlotte this year as they are good for just about everything. The first seeds I sow are Tomatoes and Peppers – usually at the end of January to give them a good growing season. Must say I am impressed with your organising abilities – spreadsheets? Completely alien to me I’m afraid – I am more of a hit and miss gardener, but it generally turns out well in the end.

  8. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Your blog looks so interesting and I shall be reading back through your previous posts. I think I’ve got all the seeds I need for the coming year, but I’ve yet to sort them out. I usually sort them in to months they need to be sown so that I don’t forget anything. I’m itching to get started and will be sowing my onions and peppers as soon as this cold snap disappears. I love the milk bottle labels tip and shall do this myself.

    • Hi Jo, it’s lovely to hear from you. I wish this cold snap would disappear soon as I’m itching to get back to my allotment lol. It’s funny, I look forward to winter for a rest and then all I do is wish it was spring so I can get started again! Glad you like the milk bottle labels.

  9. hello
    i love reading your blog today!! lovely snow pics!! next week will i bying new seeds….like peppers,radish,cucumber for salad,etc. you are very organized with your gardening.
    wish you a nice time,
    love regina

  10. You are so organized! Right now my seeds are all hapazard in their paper bags in (mostly) their bucket, but I have more drying – ack! I don’t know where I’m gonna put ’em all!

      • Yeah, I’ll be doing that, (or maybe late Autumn) because when you go into the shed for any length of time you end up coming out feeling kinda well done -and if you do it ourtside the shed your plain cooked – and if you go inside you make a mess!!

  11. Hi,I am just starting out on the vegetable growing road-which company would you recommend for seeds?Also I don’t have a green house,cold frame or propagator but I do have a conservatory is that enough to get me started?I also have a big garden which I am planning raised beds for,I am hoping to grow as much as possible but I am slightly overwhelmed!By the way I did make Christmas hampers for family and they loved them thank you very much for your ideas.

    • Hi Louise. If i’m going to be perfectly honest, I would say that seeds from ‘Wilkinsons’ are as good as the more expensive seeds. A conservatory will be as cold as an unheated greenhouse or coldframe (unless you have heating in it), so you will have to hold off for a while before sowing any seeds in it. If I was you, I would buy a cheap propagator to start your seeds off in.

      Don’t feel overwhelmed with it all, start with just a few things. Decide what you would like to have a go at and let me know and i’ll give you some advice on when to sow them (pls let me know where abouts in the country you live as the south is warmer than the north). Also, look out for my post at the beginning of each month ‘What to do in the kitchen garden each month’.

  12. Thanks very much.I live in Surrey the conservatory is quite warm during the day but no heating yet.I have grown tomatoes,potatoes runner beans,French beans,cabbage but I really need to grow as much as possible to reduce my food bill!I am also going to join the village gardening club for tips!Just to let you know the laundryy
    liquid is working very well

    • That’s good news Louise. By the way, have you made your raised beds yet?…if not I would save money and not bother doing then yet as wood is expensive. They do look nice in the garden but you can quite easily work without the wood around the edges. I marked out beds (approx 140cm wide max and not too long) at the allotment and I just don’t walk on the soil. These are called ‘fixed’ beds and have the advantage of not attracting slugs to hide in the wood and serve the same as raised beds.

      Also, try courgettes, salads, spring onions (check out how I grow them in modules to ensure germination) parsley, broadbeans, beetroot etc as they are easy too.

      Everytime I sow something I blog about it, so keep your eye out and if you fancy it have a go. Somethings will fail, but don’t be disheartened as most things will grow. Good luck Louise and don’t forget to ask me if you aren’t sure (even if you think it’s a daft question, as someone else is bound to be wondering the same)

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