I have been looking forward to writing a Grow Your Own blog this year and today it’s all about growing vegetable seeds for the year ahead.
A lot of veggies can be sown from February, most of them indoors only, but some can be sown outside already with cloche protection.
If you haven’t grown your own food before – do have a go – you only need a small amount of space to grow a few pots and the results are so rewarding.
I enjoy searching for seeds online and deciding which varieties to grow. I have grown veggies for years and tend to stick with my old faithful varieties which give consistently good results, but I do like to try the odd new variety. When they arrive in the post I can hardly wait to grab the seed compost and start sowing!
It was bitterly cold, blustery and wet last weekend where I live so I set some time aside to sow some of my 2015 vegetable crop indoors. I have several more packets of seeds to sow but will wait until next weekend and later on in March for the rest, when it will be (hopefully) warmer …
I sow sprouting salads throughout the winter but had run out of seeds. Mung Beans were part of my seed order so I sowed them first as they only take about six days until they are ready to eat. Half of these will be added to a stir fry next week and the rest in a crunchy salad. Mung Beans (or bean sprouts) can simply be grown in a large glass jar with a clean cloth over the top. The only care they need is rinsing in tepid water twice a day, then draining – and that’s it! The instructions on the back of the seed packets are very clear and suggest several ways to grow sprouting salads.
The picture on the right shows the Mung Beans after just two days and they are already sprouting!
Another sprouting salad I love is Alfalfa. These nutritious beans develop very quickly too – usually within a week, and can also be grown in a large jar. Others to try are red cabbage and broccoli sprouts. All these salads are super foods – very nutritious and they all taste delicious.
So by next weekend, I should have two types of sprouting salad!
The next packet to be opened was a variety of Radish called Bright Lights – they look beautiful! Radishes are very easy to grow and crop within a few weeks, so my first radish crop should be ready in early April.
I sowed these seeds in a fairly large pot and will keep the pot inside to speed up germination. To get a continuous crop, radishes should be sown every 3-4 weeks and the next batch I sow will be placed outside in a sheltered position with some fleece or bubble wrap over the top to protect the seedlings from the cold weather.
Baby leaf spinach was the next to be sown and will also be ready by early April. The variety I have chosen is called Fiorano F1 as it is suited to container growing – and is very quick to grow. This variety can be planted in the open ground, or larger containers, about 8”/20cm apart for mature spinach leaves. Again, these should be sown every 2 to 3 weeks to guarantee a continuous supply of spinach.
I really enjoy wandering out into the garden and picking different types of lettuce for our evening meal. I have always had great success with Salad Bowl lettuces, and this year I have chosen a mixed pack of red and green varieties. Individual leaves can be picked from Salad Bowl so the plants last for weeks.
Catalogna is another cut-and-come-again lettuce, which I haven’t grown before, but according to the packet, they will grow back for up to four cuts!
I sow several batches of lettuces throughout spring and summer so that there are always plenty of salad leaves available. These should taste delicious mixed with the baby spinach leaves.
I have other packets of salad seeds such as Little Gem lettuces and Red Veined Sorrel – which will have to wait until next weekend …
Sweet Red Peppers
My family eat lots of pointed red peppers, both fresh and cooked, and I’m determined to get a bumper crop this year! My daughters regularly grab a red pepper from the fridge and eat them whole – even though I may have planned to use them as the main ingredient in the evening meal – but what a healthy snack!!
The variety I have chosen is called Marconi rosso and they are large, sweet and juicy. I have sown some in four little pots, with two seeds in each pot, and put them on the kitchen windowsill. They will need to be potted on to larger pots when they are about 4”/10cm high, then planted in grow bags in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot during mid-late May. Peppers take a long time to mature, which is why I decided to sow these now.
Another crop which takes a long time to mature is beef type tomatoes. I have sown some Costoluto fiorentino this year and I think these will be excellent. They have those wonderful irregular shaped fruits and I’m sure they will taste delicious!
As with red peppers, tomatoes need protection from the cold so are sitting on my windowsill and will stay there until May.
I am going to grow several types of cherry tomatoes too and this year I have chosen a selection of five different coloured tomatoes ranging in colour from yellow, peach and orange to cherry-red and chocolate – should be interesting!