Archive for the Category ◊ Favourite Seeds ◊

• Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

This morning I have started to pot my chili plants which are now enjoying the winter sunshine on the windowsill. Chillies are fairly easy-to-grow and right now all they need is warmth, a lot of sun and a bit of water.

This month I have also started to sow flower seeds, in particular this selection of flowers which are suited to drier conditions or rockeries:

    Growing Chillies

    Growing Chillies

  • Erigerons (Profusion): I first noticed these dainty little flowers growing on the banks of a stream in Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds.
  • Chamomile (lawn) which is supposed to be delightfully fragrant and may be suitable to both my English and French gardens. Hopefully I may also be able to use it as herbal tea!
  • Livingstone Daisy (Micropterum schlecteri) : also known as mesembryanthemum is a succulent annual which looks like a daisy.

Now, I have never grown these flower seeds before but I have noticed that the seeds are really tiny, which in my opinion makes them more challenging to grow. And judging by the instructions on the packets, the seeds will take longer to germinate.

Top TipMy top tip: if the flower seeds are tiny, i.e. the size of a crystal of salt or smaller, I strongly recommend using special compost for sowings.
You can work out how small the seeds are by shaking the packet and comparing it with other seeds that you know.

Was it tip-top for you? Please leave a comment – thank you!

• Friday, February 06th, 2009

I am so eager to get started and leap into Spring that I tend to start my sowing too early and every year I make the same mistake. So my resolution each year is to not start tomato seeds in particular too early because the plants get leggy and take longer to get started in the ground.

Chilli de Cayenne seeds

Chilli de Cayenne seeds

Garden centres and shops are partially responsible as they start displaying plants and seeds too early.  Potato seeds have been available since early January and in my personal opinion that is too early even if you are planning to chit early varieties.  In fact looking at the cold weather that we have just experienced, I wonder if Spring is going to come as early as it did last year.  So as far as spuds are concerned I have waited until last week – early February – to buy and start chitting my early variety potato seeds.  I plan to purchase my main crop variety a bit later.
This is what I am currently sowing indoors:
– Chillies – are so easy to grow even for beginners and are an essential ingredient of curries and other exotic dishes.
– Geraniums – I have chosen a new variety called Moulin Rouge F1 hybrid by T&M which comes in vibrant red.  Geraniums are worthwhile growing from seed since they can be expensive if you buy them as fully grown plants from garden centers.
– Portulaca – I have never grown these before but I chose them because they like a sunny spot and seem to stand the drought more than most plants I know.  I have just noticed that the seeds are really tiny so I guess it’s going to be a challenge to grow these.

I may also grow a few cauliflower seeds if I have enough space in the sowing tray.
It feels so good to grow-your-own.  Hopefully you will join me too in the sowing frenzy!

Top TipMy top tip: I recommend sowing the right amount of plants that you need plus a few more just in case germination does not work so well (for whatever reason that it may be).  In the case of chilli plants, they have been so popular over the last 2 years that I would recommend growing a few more just for your friends and because the chilli plants also look good!

Was it tip-top for you? Please leave a comment – thank you!

• Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Looking back at the successes of the year 2008 the Globe artichoke is definitely a winner and has been for me for several years now.  I grow mine from seeds, which takes longer since the artichoke seedling really needs to develop to a 3 foot tall plant before producing any flower. Some of my plants took 2 years before growing a long stem which terminates in a few flowering buds. The artichoke flower buds tend to get bigger after a couple of years as the plant settles and grows each year.

Bees on an artichoke head

Bees on an artichoke head

I recommend protecting young plants from the winter cold by mulching the base of the artichoke with straw for example.

I usually harvest my artichokes in June/July.  If you leave it too late to harvest your artichoke, it will develop into a lovely flower which is very popular with bees.

This underrated vegetable is full of fibre, packed with goodness and is known for its diuretic and antioxidant properties. And it always feels good to grow your own vegetable. Personally I have grown my artichokes from the T&M globe artichoke seeds and was satisfied with them.

Top TipMy top tip: I recommend cooking artichokes in a pressure cooker since it takes half the time (only 20 minutes) of the traditional boiling method.  Then you simply dip the heart of the vegetable into a mixture of olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar.   Bon appetit!

Was it tip-top for you?  Please leave a comment.