The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Growing => Vegetables => Topic started by: Fleecewife on December 13, 2019, 12:39:30 pm

Title: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on December 13, 2019, 12:39:30 pm
Has anyone got their 2020 seed orders in?  For things like potatoes, at least the more unusual ones and blight resistant, lots are already out of stock.  Even seeds, especially multibuy special offers are sold out.  It used to be you could spend the quiet time after the winter celebrations looking through the catalogues in a leisurely way while you made your choice, but now if you leave it that long, the things you most want will be out of stock.
I've sent off my orders but knowing my luck although they were all in stock when I did the order, when my parcels arrive some things will be missing.


As an aside, I find the 'free seeds' that come pouring into the letter box with magazines are really frustrating - if they are what I want then I've already bought them, but most are for varieties I don't grow, or want to grow.  What a waste!  Any ideas on what to do with them? I used to send them all to my brother, but he's 'resting' from veg growing this year.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: pgkevet on December 13, 2019, 03:17:26 pm
My growing reduces every year (back pain and frustration). For the limited range of seeds I may need I now use ebay (premier seeds direct usually) and apart from really sensitive seeds most packets I buy are big enough to last a few years. I did plan to just sow all my 'left-over' and weird varieties into a reserve plot of veggie patch  all mixed up and just see what happened - might do that this year coming.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on December 13, 2019, 05:28:35 pm
The year before last I chucked out all my old and unsown seeds to start afresh last year.  There's still lots left of last year's seeds for most varieties but increasingly seed packets don't have all that large a seed count - 5 x cucumber seeds, 10 x tomatoes etc.  I have spent years narrowing down what I try growing but each year I like to try a couple of new things and that way I've found some 'keepers'.  Things like brassica and salad seeds last for several years and like you I hold them over, but I do love reading the catalogues, both paper and online, and dreaming the winter away.  Spring is always so hopeful, then the reality of summer pests and diseases and bad weather hit and there's always disappointment  :garden:


A few years ago I did something a bit like you intend, sowing everything from old packets, including lots of flowers, brassicas etc amongst a newly planted coppice area, specially for the wildlife.  The little Bs couldn't wait and just ate all the seeds before they could germinate  :rant:
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: harmony on December 13, 2019, 06:41:03 pm

As an aside, I find the 'free seeds' that come pouring into the letter box with magazines are really frustrating - if they are what I want then I've already bought them, but most are for varieties I don't grow, or want to grow.  What a waste!  Any ideas on what to do with them? I used to send them all to my brother, but he's 'resting' from veg growing this year.



Give them your local school and encourage them to grow something. Put them in a nice box and give them as a raffle prize.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: pgkevet on December 13, 2019, 07:12:45 pm
The year before last I chucked out all my old and unsown seeds to start afresh last year.  There's still lots left of last year's seeds for most varieties but increasingly seed packets don't have all that large a seed count - 5 x cucumber seeds, 10 x tomatoes etc.  I have spent years narrowing down what I try growing but each year I like to try a couple of new things and that way I've found some 'keepers'.  Things like brassica and salad seeds last for several years and like you I hold them over, but I do love reading the catalogues, both paper and online, and dreaming the winter away.  Spring is always so hopeful, then the reality of summer pests and diseases and bad weather hit and there's always disappointment  :garden:

Again I find that ebay usually allows me to buy things like packets of 50 tom seeds of the variety i want, 50-100 pepper seeds and so forth..and usually cheaper if you punt about. I rarely pay more than £1 incl postage per packet. 1,000 french breakfast for instance. But as said not into it as much now what with pheasants and stray sheep getting into stuff and back problems re weeding.

A few years ago I did something a bit like you intend, sowing everything from old packets, including lots of flowers, brassicas etc amongst a newly planted coppice area, specially for the wildlife.  The little Bs couldn't wait and just ate all the seeds before they could germinate  :rant:
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Terry T on December 13, 2019, 07:44:50 pm
We have got our seed orders in. I prefer not to keep seed for more than two growing seasons as itís a lot of work for poor quality crops. Iím gradually increasing the amount of seed I save to reduce the costs.
If you want larger quantities of seed  - often the commercial distributors like Moles sell 100 x the amount for the same price and you can then swap leftovers.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Scarlet.Dragon on December 13, 2019, 09:57:00 pm
The heritage seed list is now out with the Organic Gardening website.  You can download a copy https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/join-us?fbclid=IwAR3hKw20CTKCODGNHETxTdrKaRSlK61z0dF7n-F2XSD0SoFmUx9uIXW4jX8 (https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/join-us?fbclid=IwAR3hKw20CTKCODGNHETxTdrKaRSlK61z0dF7n-F2XSD0SoFmUx9uIXW4jX8)

I think you have to be a member to order though!
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on December 14, 2019, 01:25:32 pm
The heritage seed list is now out with the Organic Gardening website.  You can download a copy https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/join-us?fbclid=IwAR3hKw20CTKCODGNHETxTdrKaRSlK61z0dF7n-F2XSD0SoFmUx9uIXW4jX8 (https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/join-us?fbclid=IwAR3hKw20CTKCODGNHETxTdrKaRSlK61z0dF7n-F2XSD0SoFmUx9uIXW4jX8)

I think you have to be a member to order though!


I think you are also expected to contribute self saved seeds to the scheme too, and I'm not doing too well with seed saving.  Beyond peas and beans I could not be sure of no cross pollination.  I'll have a look though just in case something is unmissable!
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: DavidandCollette on December 15, 2019, 10:06:19 am
The heritage seed list is now out with the Organic Gardening website.  You can download a copy https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/join-us?fbclid=IwAR3hKw20CTKCODGNHETxTdrKaRSlK61z0dF7n-F2XSD0SoFmUx9uIXW4jX8 (https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/join-us?fbclid=IwAR3hKw20CTKCODGNHETxTdrKaRSlK61z0dF7n-F2XSD0SoFmUx9uIXW4jX8)

I think you have to be a member to order though!


I think you are also expected to contribute self saved seeds to the scheme too, and I'm not doing too well with seed saving.  Beyond peas and beans I could not be sure of no cross pollination.  I'll have a look though just in case something is unmissable!

No, you dont have to contribute but you do need to join. It's only a couple of quid a year but you get some really unusual varieties. Just about to order ours today.
As an aside, we recently moved house and Garden Organic (and Heritage Seed Libriary) were one of the few organisations to successfully transfer our address! Banks and pension companies failed miserably.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on December 15, 2019, 08:45:58 pm
Mmm - I had a look and it said I can join for a mere £18 and it doesn't let you see the catalogue until you've joined!  Now I remember why I didn't join the last time I looked into it. Then I remembered the real seed company which sells heritage varieties too.  I really love these guys - they must be the only seedsmanandwoman who prefer you to save your own seed from the crops you grow from their seeds, rather than buying more seeds.  I've just had a peep and I see they've bought a wonderful old machine which packs paper envelopes with seeds.  There's a short clip of it working - brilliant.  I love almost anything of mechanical splendour!   Even though I have all the seeds I want, I'll just have to buy some from them just to know they've been packed by that machine  ;D
www.realseeds.co.uk (http://www.realseeds.co.uk)
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Scarlet.Dragon on December 15, 2019, 08:56:32 pm
Mmm - I had a look and it said I can join for a mere £18 and it doesn't let you see the catalogue until you've joined!  Now I remember why I didn't join the last time I looked into it. Then I remembered the real seed company which sells heritage varieties too.  I really love these guys - they must be the only seedsmanandwoman who prefer you to save your own seed from the crops you grow from their seeds, rather than buying more seeds.  I've just had a peep and I see they've bought a wonderful old machine which packs paper envelopes with seeds.  There's a short clip of it working - brilliant.  I love almost anything of mechanical splendour!   Even though I have all the seeds I want, I'll just have to buy some from them just to know they've been packed by that machine  ;D
www.realseeds.co.uk (http://www.realseeds.co.uk)

You can see the catalogue on the link I sent... I downloaded it, you just click on the link.  Here it is for speed: https://hsl.gardenorganic.org.uk/file/1046/download?token=dt8nS--t (https://hsl.gardenorganic.org.uk/file/1046/download?token=dt8nS--t)

I've been a Garden Organic member for a good few years but wasn't impressed when the online shop was taken over by Dobies so haven't bought much from them since.  Having said that, I've been disappointed with stuff bought elsewhere, so will probably revert through the winter to have my spring seeds ready to go in (if I ever get time to get into the garden in 2020)!
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on December 16, 2019, 02:26:44 am
Thanks Scarlet Dragon.  I did click before but didn't notice the list was lurking at the bottom of the page as a PDF.  I've seen it now but nothing has caught my eye.  I think sometimes the best varieties from heritage collections get promoted by mainstream nurseries, such as the Crimson flowered broad bean, which I grow every year now.  I have a sneaky feeling that the less popular ones are not worth growing because there are better versions available elsewhere.  I find DTBrown is very good - for a start their catalogue is printed on recycled, non-shiny paper - top marks. They have a good list at reasonable prices, although I notice this year that seeds are very expensive from all the big boys.
I've been a member since Garden Organic was the Henry Doubleday research Institute in the 70s.  I hate the new name for its poor grammar and because they probably spent thousands for someone to come up with the name.  It used to be an entity with small, honest and simple principles, then they brought in the consultants to make as much money as they could and the whole lot has lost its way, or at least its roots.
Real Seeds has some interesting peas, beans and salads, so I have a few packets ordered.
I'm going in for raised beds to a small extent this year.  In the past I have felt that too many people think they can't grow veg without expensive designer raised beds and bought soil.  I think clean rows of veg on the flat look lovely, but the bed experiment is to see if they will be easier to maintain but still grow the same amount of crop, given our continuing creeping senility.  We are using old scaffold boards to make 2x1meter dismantleable beds, mostly in the tunnel, as an experiment.  We have plenty of sheep and poultry manure to fill many beds, and endless mole hill soil!  :garden:
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Anke on December 16, 2019, 07:40:31 am
Just ordered all mine - I also chuck out older seed regularly and so far have not been able (or actually bothered) to save my own - I always have more than one variety of most things, so cross pollination always likely. There just aren't enough hours in the day already...
Gave up on everything connected with Garden Organic a while ago (well definitely since Dobie takeover), and now use Real Seeds, Tamar and Nicky's Nursery. I don't get my knickers in a twist if seed is not organic or even F1, as I know now what grows well and what doesn't. Always try a new variety of tomoatoes and peppers though.... given up on aubergines though, sadly never get anything bigger than goose eggs size, and that's with bought-in plants.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Briggsy from Gower on December 16, 2019, 08:16:36 am
I keep my seeds in a sandwich box in the fridge and they last forever.

Well not quite, but I've yet to have anything fail to germinate even after 4 or 5 years or more.

Sometimes if they are very elderly I will sow the lot just in case, but have always ended up with a mini forest of seedlings.

Fleecewife - good luck with the raised beds. I use them as I don't seem able to keep the veg patches even reasonable weeded if they are not clearly defined!  It's more of a slightly raised and then no dig affair, but seems to work well as you can grow the crops closer together if their roots can go deed so you don't loose out on yield.

I too harvest mole hills, fantastic loam.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on December 16, 2019, 12:47:25 pm
@Anke  Most of what you wrote could have been me writing it!  I'm not quite sure why I'm still a member of Grow Organic really, as I haven't bought anything from them for a few years.  Maybe it's the work they do overseas, although I'm a bit doubtful about some of that too, maybe it's habit or maybe it's simply that I haven't got around to cancelling my (long)standing order.  You and I do have a similar climate and conditions and we seem to be dealing with growing stuff in a similar way.  For aubergines, one year I grew loads of whoppers - but I didn't eat them because I just didn't like them.  The flowers are beautiful and growing the plants successfully is very satisfying, but what's the point if I don't eat them?  So no aubergines here either.


@BriggsyfromGower  I have too many seed packets to keep in the fridge  :roflanim:   I've found that seeds such as brassicas and tomatoes last for years, but others like parsnips really don't maintain a good germination rate.  So I have quite a few packets of brassica seeds and grow just a handful of each variety each year, so the packets go on forever.  You're right that seeds need to be stored correctly to have any chance of lasting.  Leaving them in the polytunnel over the winter is especially doomed as the mice will eat the lot and build their nests with the packets  ;D   I'll see how I get on with these experimental beds; the ones I have outside are fairly disastrous for weeds.  One is strawberries and picking them is accompanied by many 'ouches' as my fingers find yet another nettle.  The other has to be dug because thistles and couch have found their way in.  It's a high bed, so Mr F has to be persuaded to hop up there to dig, but of course digging was the thing we were trying to avoid!  We still get creeping thistle in the tunnel, and couch creeping in from the sides, plus raspberries, so we'll always have to do some digging out of those until the day we can afford to lay a concrete path all around the tunnel and around the edge of the whole plot.


Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Briggsy from Gower on December 17, 2019, 09:46:03 am
I love the way most no dig methods usually start with digging.

We have horsetail in our tunnel. Lots and lots of horsetail, after 7 years it is starting to reduce so there is hope. I read that it has antimicrobial properties which in a tunnel is a good thing, so have decided to change it from villain to hero. The other 'hero' in there is nettles which now form part of the crops.

It's all about spin
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: DavidandCollette on December 17, 2019, 09:54:01 am
Tamar also do a good variety of organic seeds
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on December 17, 2019, 12:36:15 pm
@Briggsy from Gower   Years ago when our growing was all done in two allotments in Edinburgh, we had horsetail.  At first, taking over the plots in winter, I had no idea what all those black threads were, so just left them.  Then I found out they were horsetail/marestail (I can never remember the difference) and everyone around said what a pest it was and you had to get rid of it.  So I tried for a few years. I think those roots go down about 5 or 6 feet  :o . Then I noticed that actually, being light and airy, it didn't take up much room and didn't seem to do much damage to the crops.  So I stopped demonising it and let it be until we moved here.  I suppose the next tenant went through the same process, and clearly the old bloke who had it before us (who was killed when the gable end of his house fell on him  :'(  ) had clearly done, as the plot which had been his was otherwise immaculate.  Our other plot had bindweed - now that's eeviiil !
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Briggsy from Gower on December 17, 2019, 09:18:39 pm
I believe you are right Fleecewife.

The tunnel had been neglected for several years before we moved in and the horsetail (marestail lives in streams) formed a mini forest so hacking back was kind of essential, but in it's reduced state I am quite happy to live alongside it. Just as well as I am sure with roots that deep it will outlive me.

In years gone by people used it to scour pans.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on December 17, 2019, 10:44:09 pm
Thanks for sorting my horsetail/marestail forgetfulness. Really, scouring pots?  Makes me a bit sad I don't have any anymore  :idea:
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: cloddopper on December 18, 2019, 10:39:20 pm
We didn't get  much sown this current season . except for me broadcasting five year old carrot seeds in one raised bed in th vain hope they might give us a few carrots .
 All my seeds are either decanted  as soon as we get them into individual air tight  15 ml screw top sample jars  or left in their sealed foiled  packs 7 given a seed store index number . So long as they are kept air tight , out of extreme heat & out of daylight they  have some amazing  lengths of seed viability.

 Those old carrot seeds  must have been sown at the ideal soil temps & moisture content for they beat the weeds up .  The bed is absolutely chock a block with nice long thick Autumn King carrots.
 I think the only seed that don't store well for me are parsnips & some times spring onions
 So they are the only seeds I buy every year. 
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Alex_ on January 08, 2020, 09:12:42 am
With my old seeds i just sprout them and give them to the hens.
I use real seeds pretty much exclusively apart from potatoes and the odd plant that they don't do like spaghetti squash
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Polyanya on February 02, 2020, 11:11:21 am
We ordered most of our seeds at the end of December from the Real Seed Co, and have had delivered some very early tatties and shallots for the polytunnel from ebay. I try and save seed but it is very weather dependent as a lot of times its too cold up here and they all go mouldy but usually get peas, beans, garlic and tatties and some herbs like parsley most years - have done courgette and cucs and tomatoes before so will be having a go again this year.
Just about to start sowing some seeds in the propagator.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on February 02, 2020, 12:15:45 pm
We ordered most of our seeds at the end of December from the Real Seed Co, and have had delivered some very early tatties and shallots for the polytunnel from ebay. I try and save seed but it is very weather dependent as a lot of times its too cold up here and they all go mouldy but usually get peas, beans, garlic and tatties and some herbs like parsley most years - have done courgette and cucs and tomatoes before so will be having a go again this year.
Just about to start sowing some seeds in the propagator.


What are you about to sow @Polyanya ?  I just sowed leeks, plus a couple of flowers: helianthus and verbascum to try to get them to flower this year. I shall probably get the broad beans sown soon, into pots hanging in bakers trays from the crop bars, to keep the vermin off.
 I am keen to get my onion sets in in the polytunnel, as the sets are really good quality - plump and clean.  Is it still too early for them?  I usually get onion sets in in mid-March.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: doganjo on February 02, 2020, 01:32:44 pm
Got your reply, Juliet, thank you, look after yourself.  Hopefully see you and  Gordon at the Smalholders Festival in October  :wave:

Having moved in Autumn last year and loads of renovations needed in the house, I haven't got far with garden plans, other than some fruit bushes and a couple of apple trees for the big skelp of land at the west side of the house

I've carpeted the piece of grass at the other side of the house aiming to put in raised beds (like really raised - hip height) but it may be summer before they'll be planted up. 

I'm thinking flowers in the ones seen from the road, with veg behind them.  It's quite protected from the elements but I haven't decided what to put in yet.  What's the  latest planting times for veg - I'm in Central Scotland so no real extremes of weather.

There's a large piece of grass down at the roadside which I've offered to the primary school to plant up via the council website but had no response - I suppose most schools have their own ground  :'(  I though I was being helpful.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Briggsy from Gower on February 03, 2020, 09:07:41 am
Hi Fleecewife,

Not too early for those onion sets, I always put them in as soon as they arrive. They are perfectly hardy enough to handle a late freeze if it comes. In fact I am getting earlier and earlier with alliums, the elephant garlic went in in September and are a good 12" tall already, expecting some monsters this year.

Interested to hear you have planted leaks already, I have found in the past that they flower if sown too early and we get a late cold snap. Possibly variety is my problem.

Broadbeans and early peas are next, and thanks to your handy tip last year will be suspended in the tunnel to keep the pesky mice off. We seem to have had a population explosion this year. In fact there's one brown mouse who does not even take the trouble to hide from me now, though he is munching the kohl rabi so I think I need to harvest before he takes the lot!



Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Polyanya on February 03, 2020, 09:58:14 am
Hi Fleecewife  :wave:

I usually start most things off in the heated propagator in the house this early in the season and am planning to sow leaf lettuce, sweet peppers, toms, squash, viola, leeks, parsley, shallots and shetland kale. I sow a row or two in the polytunnel of raddish, rocket and spring onion. We can get really warm Febs in the polytunnel so its nice to maybe get an early start with a few things, then its not such a loss if its too cold for them as we haven't used all the seeds. We planted 12 early tatties (Swift) in the PT and will be harvesting them in May.
We get mixed results with onion sets in the PT, shallots work better for us I think they're more hardy - some onions will bolt if the weather is very changeable. We have planted overwintering onions in the raised beds outside last autumn so I'm looking forward to seeing the results.
Do you think you'll risk it with the onions and are you growing anything outside?
On a different note in a past thread you wrote about using shopping baskets from willow (I think) and I asked if you made them yourself?  :eyelashes:
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: graemeatwellbank on February 03, 2020, 11:35:17 am
I have a multitude of seeds for this year. No half measures in my 20 beds. and I just finished digging my first no-dig bed

Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: graemeatwellbank on February 03, 2020, 11:51:06 am
I have a multitude of seeds for this year. No half measures and surely doomed to be drowned in a sea of weeds but trying anyway.
Onions (sets), garlic, leeks, shallots (saved from last year), Spring onions and pickling onions.
Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts, Kale, Chard - not Broccoli as I never grow it successfully.
Beetroot, turnip, swede, radish, carrot, parsnip.
Courgette, pumpkin.
Peas and beans.
Salads.
Potatoes.
and plenty of different varieties within this mix.
Hope to provide all our needs for half the year. Well hope to provide all our needs but will be pleased with a half-year supply.
Just finished last years potatoes, Some onions left but garlic all turned out to be empty/dry. Still got parsnips, swede, sprouts and kale in the ground.
This years garlic growing well - not 12" like Briggsy.
Some seeds from Real Seed but also some from SeedParade - dirt cheap but I used them last year and they were OK.
Trying to keep records this year so might eventually be able to share successes and failures of various varieties/sources.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Anke on February 03, 2020, 12:33:53 pm
I have started to follow the Charles Dowding sowing calendar quite closely last years and all worked out well, except that my Keder is too damp in the winter (although I try and open the doors most days).
So far I have only put sweet and chilli peppers in the propagator, but next week will try and sow some onions, spring onions, peas (for shoots), broad beans, spinach, coriander and parsely, plus some early brassicas and trying again with caulis (didn't work very well last year). Tomatoes by end of February (they and the peppers go under grow light and are repoted several times).
Won't be sowing leeks until April time - they will shoot into flower too early otherwise.

Check out Ch Dowdings website, I find it particularly useful for late summer and autumn sowing - we have tons of greenery in the Keder, and the spinach and mustards are not affected by the dampness (though the radishes, and turnips, plus cabbages are unfortunately...)
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on February 03, 2020, 12:47:23 pm
Got your reply, Juliet, thank you, look after yourself.  Hopefully see you and  Gordon at the Smalholders Festival in October  :wave:

Having moved in Autumn last year and loads of renovations needed in the house, I haven't got far with garden plans, other than some fruit bushes and a couple of apple trees for the big skelp of land at the west side of the house

I've carpeted the piece of grass at the other side of the house aiming to put in raised beds (like really raised - hip height) but it may be summer before they'll be planted up. 

I'm thinking flowers in the ones seen from the road, with veg behind them.  It's quite protected from the elements but I haven't decided what to put in yet.  What's the  latest planting times for veg - I'm in Central Scotland so no real extremes of weather.

There's a large piece of grass down at the roadside which I've offered to the primary school to plant up via the council website but had no response - I suppose most schools have their own ground  :'(  I though I was being helpful.


Maybe identify the one person at the school who is interested in growing and approach them direct?  There usually seems to be one person who keeps the interest in gardening going.


For latest planting times it depends on what you are growing, and you may have to experiment a bit to get used to your new plot.  I have lived in various places in Britain and have had to relearn how to garden with each move!  Many seed packets give a range of dates for sowing and sometimes they tell you how many weeks they need between sowing and harvesting.  If they are frost tender, then work backwards from your first expected frost, so everything you sow should be eaten before it gets killed.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Briggsy from Gower on February 03, 2020, 12:56:12 pm
Hi Anke,

Will check it out.

I have gone with trial, error and successional sowing for autumn sowing, currently have celery, winter radish, swede & kohl rabi all going strong in the tunnel, normally I would also have beetroot, but I am giving the ground a rest as last years looked a pit sickly. Coming along nicely for the hungry gap - cabbage and wawa (fleshy oriental stem thingy).

This may not suit your climate, however here in South Wales I NEVER shut the polytunnel doors, I soon found that sacrificing a week or so at each end of the season was much more preferable than seeing veg go to rot. We had minus 5 a couple of weeks ago and the straggling nasturtiums and a few volunteer spuds managed to survive. In our damp climate ventilation is king!

Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on February 03, 2020, 01:22:41 pm
It's lovely to see you are all starting to get spring sowing under way.  I know I was a bit early before, but it's one of the ways I cope with the dark days of midwinter - planning for the growing season.
It looks like I shall have my leeks going to seed this year then!  Last year I sowed Leek Below Zero F1 in the third week of March and we are eating them now, although not all have filled out yet.  It's always a juggle between sowing too early and sowing so late the crop doesn't mature.  This year I sowed some more below Zero F1, Stocky F1 (free seeds) and the rest are my old favourite Musselburgh, which is open pollinated, so in theory I could collect seeds from them. They are in modules in the house, but not heated.  Usually I sow them in the unheated greenhouse.  I keep fairly good records, so I will see how they compare with each other and with previous years.  If they bolt then I'll know it was too soon.


In fact last year I didn't sow any seeds before the third week of March, but then I had been ill all winter ( :fc:  to keep that Wuhan flu away this year).  I never sow tomatoes before late March anyway as I have nowhere to keep them other than the propagator which is large, but lives on the bedroom windowsill, so 3' tall plants are a nuisance  :o   They always grow too leggy in spite of the grow light.
I think I'll keep the onion sets for another couple of weeks before they go in.  They can be protected with fleece in the tunnel, but I don't want to lose them to bolting because of light levels


I grow all my potatoes outside in the open garden - earthing up is my favourite job  ;D .  In our first year with the tunnel about 20 odd years ago I did try early tatties in the tunnel and all it did was bring blight in to the tomato crop  :rant: @Polyanya as well as the potatoes I also grow broad beans and some brassicas outside, also a large plot of Helichrysum for the flying insects and for me! I usually grow carrots and parsnips in a large raised bed (hip height like Doganjo's) but this year is its fallow year covered in chicken manure and cardboard.  Sometimes I grow peas - sugar snap and some podded - outside, but a couple of years ago I lost the whole lot just when they were about ready to crop - mice chewed through the pods and stole all the peas inside.  A previous year they had done that with broad beans - Jade but not crimson flowered, picky devils!  I sometimes grow beetroot outdoors, but we had such a huge success with growing them in the tunnel last year that we'll do that again this year.


@Anke don't you find Charles Dowdings sowing times are a bit early for up here?  I'll look again as I do like his ways, and he is the reason for our new raised beds and for the mushroom compost in which I am placing all my hopes.


@Briggsy from Gower, I love your mouse already!  I bet you don't.  We had a rat infestation last summer, in the flower garden as well as the veg area, but most have been dealt with now.  There are mice still but I don't have the heart to kill them.  I try to think up ever more complicated ways to best them, but I usually end up the loser.  It is definitely worth keeping records, because although you think you will remember everything you have done, you just won't.  And comparing year on year is well worthwhile.


Well, the sun is shing through the falling snow and the wind is howling - it's a perfect day to work in the tunnel  :yippee: :garden: Have fun everyone
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Briggsy from Gower on February 03, 2020, 01:50:05 pm
Fleecewife - if you pinch out the flower shoots from onions as soon as you spot them the onion is not spoiled (unlike leeks), you may find they have a wider neck on harvesting so will not store so well, but I jut make sure they are eaten first.

Rats have moved into the compost heap this winter, hence the mice moving to the tunnel. The problem I think is that I have not been near the thing for months now, apart from bringing fresh fodder of course! My plan is to get out there this week and start digging it over, the theory being if I dig it over weekly, like what I'm supposed to do anyway, then they will get fed up and move on. We'll see!
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Anke on February 03, 2020, 03:16:17 pm
Fleecewife - I find Ch Dowding good for sowing into modules, but they might have to stay in the polytunnel/Keder a few days longer before transplanting. I then use fleece cover or the very fine mesh (which is almost as good as fleece) outside until things are definitely ok. Tbh, I don't really plant anything tender outside - all my squash, climbing beans, early broad beans, first crop of beetroot (Boltardy only), toms and peppers etc, all go into the Keder/polytunnel.
I will get my wire door built for the Keder this summer, OH has put the normal door in such a way that we can have an "inner" wire mesh covered door, but we need to sort out the window on the other end as well, which will require some "engineering". However on a day like today (it' windy!), no way I can leave a door open. The whole thing may take off! I think I will try next winter to leave more gaps (I have free beds still), and maybe not plant my radishes and turnips in a clump, but singly. It's all trial and error...
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on February 03, 2020, 05:06:35 pm
Hi Fleecewife  :wave:


On a different note in a past thread you wrote about using shopping baskets from willow (I think) and I asked if you made them yourself?  :eyelashes:


Did I?  I do have lots of willow baskets that I use for all sorts, shopping, harvesting, collecting eggs, storing spinning stuff and so on.  Most I bought at various places such as RHS, TAS smallholders festival and Woolfest, all of which have the basketmakers selling their own wares.  I do have one, just one!, which I made myself a few years ago.  I went on a course in Perthshire where we made 'hedgerow baskets' from a mix of basket willow plus things like birch twigs, broom and other new growth from the trees and hedges, all freshly cut.  It was very hard work wrestling with withies, but I love my basket, which is still as perfectly functional as before, if a bit wonky, and the green of the broom has faded.  If I made any more I would have to persuade someone else to make the base for me.
I keep meaning to make my own plant supports as I have some lovely coloured willow and other stuff, and wonkiness doesn't matter so much.  haven't got around to it yet  ::)


Are you thinking of having a go at basket making?
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on February 03, 2020, 05:13:31 pm
Fleecewife - if you pinch out the flower shoots from onions as soon as you spot them the onion is not spoiled (unlike leeks), you may find they have a wider neck on harvesting so will not store so well, but I jut make sure they are eaten first.

Rats have moved into the compost heap this winter, hence the mice moving to the tunnel. The problem I think is that I have not been near the thing for months now, apart from bringing fresh fodder of course! My plan is to get out there this week and start digging it over, the theory being if I dig it over weekly, like what I'm supposed to do anyway, then they will get fed up and move on. We'll see!


Thanks for the onion tip Briggsy - I'll do that.  I find with leeks that if the instant I notice the beginnings of a flower stalk, then I use the leek, it's usually fairly edible, but obviously that doesn't work with onions.  I'm glad you can use my tip about hanging the peas and beans on the crop bars.  I did find one year that I planted the beans out too early/small, and the wretched mice still dug them up and ate the bean, leaving a dying stalk behind...
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on February 03, 2020, 05:23:32 pm
Fleecewife - I find Ch Dowding good for sowing into modules, but they might have to stay in the polytunnel/Keder a few days longer before transplanting. I then use fleece cover or the very fine mesh (which is almost as good as fleece) outside until things are definitely ok. Tbh, I don't really plant anything tender outside - all my squash, climbing beans, early broad beans, first crop of beetroot (Boltardy only), toms and peppers etc, all go into the Keder/polytunnel.
I will get my wire door built for the Keder this summer, OH has put the normal door in such a way that we can have an "inner" wire mesh covered door, but we need to sort out the window on the other end as well, which will require some "engineering". However on a day like today (it' windy!), no way I can leave a door open. The whole thing may take off! I think I will try next winter to leave more gaps (I have free beds still), and maybe not plant my radishes and turnips in a clump, but singly. It's all trial and error...


Yes I learnt not to plant anything susceptible to cold or wind outside, including corn, runner beans, french beans and squashes too.  I used to try to wrap my runners in fleece if it turned windy early on, but the fleece would be turned to shreds and the beans would not survive.  The beans have a shorter season in the tunnel, so I shall grow dwarf french beans inside in one of the beds this year and see if they are ok to pick down there.  We have a very Heath Robinson affair to keep the hares, rabbits and hens out of the tunnel when the door is open.  I like your idea of the two doors - much simpler once you've made them.  I certainly can't leave my doors or louvres open year round - even the wind we have today would have the cover off.  I find the gaps around the louvres are enough to keep a through draft in the winter, but the tunnel reaches v high temps in summer sometimes.
I'll spend an hour or two having a look at ChasD's advice tonight
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: GribinIsaf on February 03, 2020, 09:57:20 pm
I have started to follow the Charles Dowding sowing calendar quite closely last years

I see you are in the Scottish Borders, we are in mid-Wales.  Can I ask you if you modified Charles Dowding's schedule for the difference in latitude?

Thanks
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Anke on February 03, 2020, 11:02:39 pm
I have started to follow the Charles Dowding sowing calendar quite closely last years

I see you are in the Scottish Borders, we are in mid-Wales.  Can I ask you if you modified Charles Dowding's schedule for the difference in latitude?

Thanks
No, not really. But I use module trays on my propagator in the house and then in the Keder to grow on, before planting outside, covered under fleece. Most of my early plantings are also under cover (coriander, early beetroot, broad beans, spinach -but that goes outside as well a little later. It is all just trial and error - we can have a late frost, but usually dampness and wind is more of an issue.

Tomatoes, chilli peppers, squash, courgettes are under the grow light for a little while, in the house before migrating to Keder, and then covered EVERY night with several layers of fleece, removed during the day.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: GribinIsaf on February 04, 2020, 09:05:47 am

No, not really. But I use module trays on my propagator in the house and then in the Keder to grow on, before planting outside, covered under fleece. Most of my early plantings are also under cover (coriander, early beetroot, broad beans, spinach -but that goes outside as well a little later. It is all just trial and error - we can have a late frost, but usually dampness and wind is more of an issue.

Tomatoes, chilli peppers, squash, courgettes are under the grow light for a little while, in the house before migrating to Keder, and then covered EVERY night with several layers of fleece, removed during the day.

Thanks for that.  I use a heated propagator for germination - tomatoes, chilli peppers etc.  I like to get things going early but am aware of lack of light hours.  Can you tell me more about your grow light?
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Polyanya on February 04, 2020, 09:31:07 am
Gosh its all ramping up isnt it hope we all have a fab growing season  :excited: Mentioning Charles Dowding, he is one of my favourites as is Joy Larkcom and Rosemary Verey - all so inspirational regarding vegetable growing - when I lived in England I had a lovely little potager garden ala Verey - can't do that here  :-\ Can't have anything above ground overwinter, root crops overwinter well but anything above ground gets shredded  :'(
Fleecewife - sorry I must have misread about the willow baskets. I love baskets made from anything that once grew but I've tried albeit briefly to fashion something that resembles a basket and the result was laughable - and I'm normally good with my hands and do lots of tricky crafty things but basketmaking has me stumped! No courses here mind, shame. I was going to attempt a soft basket last autumn from the dried stems of flag iris but the sheep ate them all  :roflanim:
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on February 04, 2020, 11:28:39 am
Gosh its all ramping up isnt it hope we all have a fab growing season  :excited: Mentioning Charles Dowding, he is one of my favourites as is Joy Larkcom and Rosemary Verey - all so inspirational regarding vegetable growing - when I lived in England I had a lovely little potager garden ala Verey - can't do that here  :-\ Can't have anything above ground overwinter, root crops overwinter well but anything above ground gets shredded  :'(
Fleecewife - sorry I must have misread about the willow baskets. I love baskets made from anything that once grew but I've tried albeit briefly to fashion something that resembles a basket and the result was laughable - and I'm normally good with my hands and do lots of tricky crafty things but basketmaking has me stumped! No courses here mind, shame. I was going to attempt a soft basket last autumn from the dried stems of flag iris but the sheep ate them all  :roflanim:


It looks so easy when you see an expert at work, but the reality is different!  I didn't realise sheep eat flag leaves - that's a great way of stopping them taking over.  We had some in our pond but it was the geese that ate them (they don't grow everywhere here as they do further north).  Don't give up - get a book, watch a you tube clip or three and try again, and you too can have a wonky basket to love  ;D
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Anke on February 04, 2020, 03:52:03 pm

No, not really. But I use module trays on my propagator in the house and then in the Keder to grow on, before planting outside, covered under fleece. Most of my early plantings are also under cover (coriander, early beetroot, broad beans, spinach -but that goes outside as well a little later. It is all just trial and error - we can have a late frost, but usually dampness and wind is more of an issue.

Tomatoes, chilli peppers, squash, courgettes are under the grow light for a little while, in the house before migrating to Keder, and then covered EVERY night with several layers of fleece, removed during the day.

Thanks for that.  I use a heated propagator for germination - tomatoes, chilli peppers etc.  I like to get things going early but am aware of lack of light hours.  Can you tell me more about your grow light?
Later tonight, once the sparky-minded person in this house is available... sorry I just hand out the projects around here...
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Briggsy from Gower on February 05, 2020, 10:56:35 am
Thanks for that.  I use a heated propagator for germination - tomatoes, chilli peppers etc.  I like to get things going early but am aware of lack of light hours.  Can you tell me more about your grow light?
[/quote]

Not sure I got the insert quote thingy to work properly there, it is meant to be Gribinisaf's last quote.

This is going to sound all wrong but seems to work in my house. (South Wales)

I found that the 'sunny window ledge' quoted in all the books ends up in leggy seedlings if they need to stay in the house for more than a couple of weeks, i.e. your early toms and peppers.

I germinate my early seeds on a radiator, then as soon as the first are up move them to a north facing window. They seem to grow quite cheerfully there.

No propagator, no artificial lights.

They do not get the extremes of temperature experienced in a sunny window, which toms hate and the seedlings do not get leggy. They do not seam to suffer from the lower light levels. I've done this for the last three years and so far so good, nice sturdy little plants move out to the polytunnel.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Fleecewife on February 05, 2020, 12:20:43 pm
That's really interesting Briggsy, and not what you would expect at all!  Fascinating!  I wonder if I dare give it a go  :thinking:   I do chit my potatoes on a north facing windowsill, and the shoots are short and dark.....
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Briggsy from Gower on February 05, 2020, 12:52:00 pm
Maybe  have a go with a couple and see how it goes!

And back to one of your earlier comments, I too have had the mice take the pea off the seedlings thus killing the plants. Timing appears to be everything.
Title: Re: Seed orders for 2020
Post by: Polyanya on February 05, 2020, 10:07:03 pm
Gosh its all ramping up isnt it hope we all have a fab growing season  :excited: Mentioning Charles Dowding, he is one of my favourites as is Joy Larkcom and Rosemary Verey - all so inspirational regarding vegetable growing - when I lived in England I had a lovely little potager garden ala Verey - can't do that here  :-\ Can't have anything above ground overwinter, root crops overwinter well but anything above ground gets shredded  :'(
Fleecewife - sorry I must have misread about the willow baskets. I love baskets made from anything that once grew but I've tried albeit briefly to fashion something that resembles a basket and the result was laughable - and I'm normally good with my hands and do lots of tricky crafty things but basketmaking has me stumped! No courses here mind, shame. I was going to attempt a soft basket last autumn from the dried stems of flag iris but the sheep ate them all  :roflanim:



It looks so easy when you see an expert at work, but the reality is different!  I didn't realise sheep eat flag leaves - that's a great way of stopping them taking over.  We had some in our pond but it was the geese that ate them (they don't grow everywhere here as they do further north).  Don't give up - get a book, watch a you tube clip or three and try again, and you too can have a wonky basket to love  ;D
I meant the sheep ate the dead/dying/dried flag leaves in October Fleecewife  ;D, they won't touch the fresh ones but the goats would gobble them all up if I let them.
I will have another try I have planted enough willow over the years except I sure its the wrong kind  :D On a leek note - we have found a much better harvest with the early maturing Bulgarian Giant or American Blue Flag its ready by September and beautiful long white shanks - so Its all harvested and chopped for the freezer. Can't seem to grow Musselburgh as it requires such a long standing period. We also grow nearly all our tatties outside but they can't go out until May, which is when I'll be harvesting the first earlies from the PT  :excited: