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Growing Veg 2016/#1 – Getting Started

Coriander (Cilantro) Plant | www.myfoododyssey.com

The snow has cleared, the days are getting longer and my desire to get back out into the garden is growing stronger by the day. We had some great successes last year and had extended periods where we ate mostly our own vegetables. We also managed to store a large amount of fruit and vegetables for use over the winter. This year, though, I want to do more.

Last year I planted a whopping 75 varieties of seeds including herbs, salad leaves, root vegetables, brassicas, alliums, legumes, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers & zucchini. My greatest successes were with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and kale. Some grew poorly, such as my broccoli and cauliflower. Others did not grow at all. And still others proved to be more trouble (and space-squandering) than they were worth.

This year I am making a few key changes. Firstly, my vegetable plot is now twice the size – whereas last year I had four 20 metre (65 foot) beds, this year I will have eight. Secondly, I have been advised not to buy seeds from any of the large DIY stores, but instead to buy from a local seed shop. The proprietors are extremely knowledgeable and can recommend varieties suited to your needs and environment. And thirdly, I am growing for volume and practicality – there will be no experiments or space-wasters this year.

Tomato Plant | www.myfoododyssey.com

Last week I paid a visit to the recommended seed shop to get prepared for my early planting. I am focusing on the greenhouse plants first, so I was specifically looking for interesting but reliable varieties of sweet pepper, tomatoes and cucumbers. (I will also be planting chillies, but I have some seeds left over from last year that I hope to use.) Having picked a few sweet pepper varieties I asked the lady when I should plant them. “Now”, she said. “Today.” Lithuanians have interesting and unusual rules (or perhaps superstitions) about planting vegetables, some of which are to do with the alignment of planets and the stage of the moon. I’m not sure I’ll ever comprehend these rules, but people have great confidence in them, so who am I to argue? Dutifully, I went home and planted my sweet peppers, along with some coriander (cilantro), mint and salad onions in window boxes.

The pepper varieties I’ve planted are:
1. Stanley – red bell pepper (F1 hybrid)
2. Rodrigo – red bell pepper (F1 hybrid)
3. Turbine – yellow bell pepper

Rosemary Plant | www.myfoododyssey.com

Next to be planted are my chilli seeds. I had great success last year with Cayenne peppers so I will plant more of the same this year. Last year 6 plants provided me with enough chillies for two large batches of fermented chilli sauce and enough frozen chillies to see me through to my first fruits this year. In early March I will plant my tomatoes and cucumbers. I have selected the following varieties:

Cucumbers:
1. Mirabelle (F1 hybrid)
2. Melody (F1 hybrid)

Tomatoes:
1. Fantasio (F1 hybrid) – classic round variety
2. Cetia (F1 hybrid) – classic round variety
3. Pink Rise (F1 hybrid) – large, beefy variety
4. Monica (F1 hybrid) – long variety, a bit like a roma tomato.

If anyone else has started planting or even just planning I would love to hear what varieties you’re using and any lessons you have from previous years.

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Coriander (Cilantro) Plant | www.myfoododyssey.com

Tomato Plant | www.myfoododyssey.com
Coriander (Cilantro) Plant | www.myfoododyssey.com
Rosemary Plant | www.myfoododyssey.com
21 Comments Post a comment
  1. ennoh412 #

    Is that last photo coriander? Do you grow your herbs under cover? Mint I can do well but the last time I tried growing coriander it was a miserable failure 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    March 6, 2016
    • Yes, that’s coriander. I’ve grown it successfully from seed but it never seems to keep for very long and it goes to seed easily if you don’t keep using it. I used to grow it in window boxes but it’s too much at one time. Now I plant in small pots about once a month to keep the supply constant. I’ve done basil and parsley from seed with success, but I’ve never been able to grow mint from seed. Maybe it’s just really slow to germinate or maybe I need better quality seeds. I recently bought a pot of mint in the supermarket. It was actually about 8 individual small plants in one pot, so I repotted into 4 bigger pots and am going to let them grow for a while. So far they look great!

      Like

      March 6, 2016
  2. Your post is making me excited to tackle a garden this year. I tried and failed last year (ran out of time, poor planning, etc). This year I have done my research and I’m ready to plan out my garden and get started. Happy planting! Looking forward to updates on your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 23, 2016
    • Thanks Amy. Best of luck with your own garden. It’s such fun. Even if it only works out partly as you planned, it is so good to go out and pick something you grew yourself, fresh for the table.

      Liked by 1 person

      February 23, 2016
  3. Frances Onaitis Tennant #

    Have you tried growing Swiss Chard? It is very easy to grow and doesn’t mind some chiliing weather. I like to cook with it more than I do spinach because it holds up better.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 22, 2016
    • I did try Swiss chard last year, Frances. It grew quite well but it became completely covered in aphids. There were so many I couldn’t clean them off, partly because of the curly leaves. While the early leaves were delicious, I ended up being put off by all the bugs and I pulled them all up. I got an organic spray right at the end of the summer, though, so I might give them another go this year.

      Like

      February 22, 2016
      • Frances Onaitis Tennant #

        Aphids!! on shard!!! Thank goodness I haven’t had that problem here in the high (6,200 feet elevation) desert of New Mexico. That would be turn off for me, too. We get squash bugs on zucchini and “beet leaf hoppers” on tomatoes, but that is about it.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 24, 2016
  4. I am so excited to see the progress you make this year. As you know I am not settled into a forever house yet but the hunt continues and we are hopeful that it may transpire later this year. That being so, one of the most important criteria is the potager and I watch your blog with such interest from this point of view. And of course the gorgeous recipes you conjure up. And the photos. OK – let’s face facts – I love your blog lock stock and two smoking chillies!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 18, 2016
    • Aw, thanks Osyth! That’s so nice to hear! I do hope you get your forever (or at least for-a-decent-run) house soon – moving is exhausting. In the meantime, maybe a few herbs or onions in a window box might take the edge off the need to garden! (And you’ve just reminded me I need to plant chillies. The moon will be out of position – yikes!)

      Liked by 1 person

      February 18, 2016
  5. Papa (the expert) has told me that the full moon is on Friday and i have to plant my sides after that! i’d better get off to finding seeds then!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 17, 2016
    • oops that should be seeds not sides

      Liked by 1 person

      February 17, 2016
      • I really do love these stories! They’re so prevalent there must be some truth behind them. Could be magnetic effects or something. Might have to find the time to Google it one of these days. Happy seed shopping!

        Like

        February 17, 2016
      • oh he knows what he’s talking about! Grows the best pomodori around. i was reading that the cycle of the moon is related to gravitational pull and the tides and therefore the water level in the soil. So after a full moon the water is at it’s ‘wettest’. Not sure if i explained that very well!

        Liked by 1 person

        February 17, 2016
      • You’ve explained it perfectly – thank you!

        Like

        February 18, 2016
  6. I love this. We’ve to start this weekend and in general tend to stay away from F1 varieties so that we can save the seeds and start again the following year. Tomatoes this year will be San Marzano, Money Maker, Sungold, and Indigo Blue Berry (a variant of Indigo Rose we grew the last few years). Can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 17, 2016
    • Those Indigo Blue Berry tomatoes look amazing, Caitriona! I would love to use heirloom varieties but what grows well in Ireland & the UK doesn’t necessarily grow well here and because of my limited language I struggle to get information on Lithuanian heirloom varieties and where I can get them. I will definitely keep looking into it, though. I did save some chilli seeds as I don’t think they were hybrids, but I’ll just have to wait and see. So looking forward to the new season!

      Like

      February 17, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Growing Veg 2016/#4: Planting Greenhouse & Veg Prep | My Food Odyssey
  2. Growing Veg 2016/#5: Outside Planting & Greenhouse Update | My Food Odyssey
  3. Growing Vegetables #7: Winding Down | My Food Odyssey
  4. Growing Vegetables #2 – Seedlings & Herbs | My Food Odyssey

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