Growing Veg 2016/#1 – Getting Started
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.
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
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:
1. Mirabelle (F1 hybrid)
2. Melody (F1 hybrid)
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.