Spring warmth, seed sowing and salad supply
It’s finally March! Now that last month’s snowfall and mini-freeze are hopefully behind us, we can join the awakening bees, boxing hares and other creatures in enjoying the warmer, lighter and lengthening spring days. Before long, bright golden daffodils will be gently dancing on the breeze and our memorial circles of grape hyacinths, which we planted for Tim Mountford, will be flowering deep blue for the first time. This should hopefully coincide with the lifting of the lockdown and we’ll be opening to welcome back visitors once again.
Having invested in a new all-in-one propagator, that is both thermostatically heated from below and lit by lamps from above on a timer thanks to the power from our solar panels, we now have the benefit of starting off some of our seeds a little earlier in a controlled environment in the cabin.
This year we’ll be sowing nine or so varieties of tomato: ranging from the ever trusty cherry sized variety ‘Gardener’s Delight’; to the less familiar and unusually blue tomato ‘Indigo Rose’; and the larger, strongly flavoured and heart-shaped, beefsteak variety ‘Cosmonaut Volkov’. We’re also growing three types of chilli sourced from a specialist farm in South Devon: ‘Ring of Fire’ a good everyday chilli which produces lots of red, long thin, cayenne type pods; ‘Aji Limon’ which produces yellow conical pods with a citrus-like hint of lemon; and ‘Pimientos de Padrón,’ a small bite-sized green pepper from northwest Spain, that is ideal as a snack once fried in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt flakes.
We’re also trying two heirloom varieties of aubergine that are new to us: ‘Turkish Orange’ which can often be found in Italian speciality markets and is great for stuffing; along with the impressively white streaked, purple skinned 'Listada de Gandia.'
In addition, we’ve also acquired a small plastic greenhouse to set up inside our large polytunnel, with a small gas heater to maintain its temperature. We’ve already got our onion seeds and some parsley and dill germinating in there, and will be able to add four more shelves worth of seed trays as things progress. If you are new to sowing crops such as salad leaves for example, then it’s a really good idea when faced with a packet containing hundreds of seeds, to imagine how much you’re going to eat and then stagger your sowing successively every fortnight or so to give yourself a steady supply.