Well not exactly it’s more an attic bedroom which is suddenly free and with south-west light (and the sun on occasions) I am in gardening heaven. I’ve started with tomato San Marzano and the wild tomato Golden Currant both for the allotment. The seeds sown are in the heated propagator and have germinated fast with green pin pricks showing through the soil surface five days after sowing. The King Richard leeks sown at the same time are also showing so I’ve opened the vents in the lid to reduce the risk of damping off but I’ll keep the heat on.
The San Marzano tomatoes did well two years ago on the allotment , and were very sweet and juicy and smelling of summer. They are a bush variety so require very little support and were perfect for cooking, holding their shape well and with the flavour of toms found in markets in Italy and France. Last year I sowed them too late hence the plan to get ahead of the game this year.
I’ve also just sown broad beans Aqua Dulce in a 2 litre pot and these are just showing through the compost. The ones sown direct on the allotment in October were eaten by slugs or mice. Peas Feltham First will be sown later this week direct into a 2 litre pot to be planted out when the seedlings are 10 cm tall.
February and March are the months to sow asparagus from seed available from http://www.dobies.co.uk/ Seed grows readily in small pots indoors and has few requirements and after two months in modules the seedlings can be potted on into individual 9cm pots. In midsummer these can be planted in an asparagus bed but you will need to be vigilant about watering, these young plants must not be allowed to dry out. Alternatively you can keep them growing in their individual pots for one year at home and next March plant the spreading roots 10cm deep in a prepared, weed-free bed. Don’t over-crowd the plants because their sturdy roots will benefit from lots of space and wait two to three years after planting before harvesting. This will allow the plants to develop and by the third year you should have a small crop. The plus side of growing from seed is cost but you have to take into account the time taken in maintaining the plants. Buying three-year old crowns speeds up the time considerably with the promise of a crop the second year after planting.
Providing the ground isn’t too soggy shallots can be planted now. I like the French ones and will try ‘Longor’ since it was voted the best ‘banana’ shallot by Gardening Which this year. Onions can also go in the ground this month and Red Arrow will crop early and keep for up to 8 weeks after harvesting. It’s a good flavour for roasting with other root vegetables. Sturon is another favourite with good keeping qualities.
I am planning to fill the allotment as early as possible with the crops that can withstand cool weather whilst leaving a whole bed covered until mid-May when the more tender vegetables can be planted.