**** Don’t forget I will be back on Monday 28th April ****
My leeks are one of the first crops I sow in the new year and this year I sowed them on the 21st February. They are a variety called ‘Musselburgh’.
Leeks are an easy crop to grow from seed. I sow them in a seed tray and leave them inside my house until the moment they germinate and then I move them to my cold greenhouse to grow on.
No matter how I try, I always sow my leek seeds too thickly and at this time of year I end up having to carefully ‘thin’ them out. ‘Thinning out’ is just a name for removing some of the plants, so that the remaining ones can grow to a decent size before you plant them out.
I usually leave about one centimeter between plants. You can see in the photographs below the tray before thinning and after thinning:
Just one point to remember, it’s best to give your plants some water afterwards, to help settle their roots after any disturbance from the thinning:
A lot of my time this week has been spent seed sowing. I start most of my vegetable seeds off at home as I find I get a much better gemination rate as I can give them the exact conditions that the seeds like.
So this week I have sown my outdoor tomatoes, parsnips, beetroot, spring onions, spring broccoli, khol rabi, basil, coriander, swede, lettuce, turnips and perpetual spinach.
I have also started to sow what I call the ‘big boys’…my summer squashes. I have sown butternut squash, pumpkins, patty pans, courgettes and my gherkins. These are all sitting snug and warm in propagators behind our french doors at home. Incidentally, I have had these propagators for years and they were so cheap to buy from places like Wilkinsons or the pound shop:
I like to try out something new each year and this year I have decided to give the ‘cucamelon’ a go. I have read various good and bad reviews about these, so I decided to bite the bullet and have a go myself.
Apparently, they look like grape sized watermelons that taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime and they are supposed to be really easy to grow….I will let you know.
You can read about cucamelons here.
I also sowed my climbing peas this week, they are a variety called ‘peashooter’. I absolutely love this variety as the peas are so fat and juicy and I have never had a bad crop. I saved the seeds from last years crop, as the seeds are expensive to buy and easy to save.
Because these seeds are so precious to me, I start them off in toilet rolls in my greenhouse, so I give them the best chance to germinate without mice eating them:
I also like to have some salad leaves handy at home, ready to use, so I started off some mixed salad leaves this week too.
I used an old grocers box with an old compost bag to line it. I fill it with compost, sow the seeds and then cover the seeds with a little more compost. I then just place the box and in my greenhouse and give it a good water.
Below are some mixed salad leaves that I sowed in exactly the same way on the 6th March. So you can see they don’t take long to grow, as these are nearly ready:
I use them as a ‘cut and come again’ crop, as once you cut them they grow again.
The green house is filling up nicely now.
You can see in the photograph below that I started to ‘pot on’ my greenhouse tomato plants (which just means to put them in a bigger pot) but unfortunately I ran out of compost, so I only managed to do two of them. I will do the other ones over Easter:
At my allotment this week I finally painted the wood around the new area that surrounds my blackberries.
I also began a project to smarten up the area in front of my utility area. I put some wood down to surround my bed and finished it off with a lick of wood stain too.
I also planted a clematis that my daughters bought me for Mother’s Day.
I planted the clematis to climb up the old swing that I brought to the allotment a couple of weeks ago. I made sure the clematis was planted deeply and I covered the roots with stones to guard against ‘clematis wilt’.
The clematis I planted over the other swing last year, was an early flowering clematis called ‘montana’. The new clematis will flower during summer, so hopefully it will look beautiful climbing over the swing.
This week I also put up my D-I-Y, no nails or screws, fruit cage.
I can’t afford one of those lovely fruit cages you can buy that just slot together and myself and Mr Thrift are not very good at D-I-Y, so a few years ago I came up with the idea of using canes, bottles and netting and it had worked brilliantly over the years.
Fruit netting should really be taken down over the winter so the birds can eat the grubs that pupae under the fruit bushes, so my cage works great as it’s only needed for a few months in the year.
All I do is make holes in the bottles to hold up the canes and push the supporting canes into the ground:
I find that the plastic bottles that cheap handwash comes in, are the best bottles to use as the plastic is soft and doesn’t go brittle and can be used time and time again:
After the canes and bottles were up I just pegged down the netting and the result is a very cheap fruit cage:
I also dug up some of my remaining leeks this week and made the most enormous pot of leek and potato soup, also using my last few homegrown potatoes from last year.
I managed to get nine portions of soup to freeze and I also sent some of it down to my In-laws for lunch. I always feel good when I have made meals out of homegrown vegetables. I find it so satifying.
Finally, I decided to change the signs that show my plot number, as the old ones were really scruffy. I used some old wood and the posts from the old signs and gave them a lick of paint. I then used my daughter acrylic paints for the colours. I still have two more posts to paint yet.
Wilkinsons were selling some of their paints and varnishes off cheap and I managed to get a small tin of varnish for just 50p (which I was really quite proud of).
So I have now given my new signs their first coat of varnish. I’m not really an artist as you can see, but I’m quite pleased with them so far (even though they are a bit ‘girlie’)….
Anyway, it’s time for me to go now.
I am going to take a couple of weeks off writing, to spend time during the Easter school holidays with my daughters.
So I will be back on Monday 28th April.
I will be around to read and answer your comments so please them coming, as it’s lovely to hear from you.
Thank you for reading my blog today and have a good easter.