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Home and Gardens

Published on April 25th, 2013 | by Angela Boobbyer


Fork It!

The second week of April! That is the latest that I have ever done my seeds, but there seemed little point in sowing anything during the coldest March for 50 years. I have never advocated sowing too early as seedlings always catch up when the days lengthen and temperatures rise and, if you sow them early there is always the temptation to plant out before all risk of frosts have passed. However, this year they will really need to do some catching up, so let’s hope that spring has really sprung.

I have not been adventurous with my seed potatoes this year and have stuck to the tried-and-tested. For the first earlies I have Pentland Javelin and the second earlies Maris Peer. I have once again chosen Pink Fir Apple for our main crop salad potato – knobbly, waxy, with a nutty flavour, it has resisted the blight well over the last 2 poor summers and also kept well in storage. In response to the problems we have had with blight I am trying out the organic Sarpo Mira for our all-purpose main crop potato, which boasts “excellent blight resistance”. Let’s hope so!

Perhaps because of last year’s poor summer and the seemingly never-ending winter I didn’t get enthused about seeds this year and left it to my husband, whose choices were rather pedestrian. I shall have to buy some late additions that I have found we cannot do without. Top of the list must be Japanese mizuna – a great easy-to-grow cut-and-come-again salad leaf which you need to pick regularly, but can be used to perk up a salad or as a garnish. It seems to make its way onto our dinner plates most days in the summer. I grow one or two plants in the greenhouse for earlier cutting and also have some outside. The other one which my husband has missed is the Munchkin pumpkin. These tiny pumpkins can be grown as climbers if you are short of space – but make sure that your fence can support them as they can weigh as much as 400g each. Like all of the cucurbita family they keep well over the winter, although they are so delicious, that you may not keep them for that long! They are great for dinner parties when you cut them horizontally and remove the seeds, brush with oil and roast for about half an hour, then reunite the tops with the bottoms and serve a whole one to each guest, as one of the vegetable accompaniments to meat or fish. You will earn extra Brownie points when you tell everyone that you grew them!

Sorry to go on about blight, but I was really dismayed that it got into the greenhouse last year and affected the tomatoes. I was therefore intrigued to see in the garden centre and in catalogues plants that have been grafted onto disease-resistant stock. They are really expensive when compared to growing from seed – £10 for 3 – but if their yield is higher, then fewer plants should be needed. I am going to try them out as well as growing my own. All I need now is some sun….


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