Gardeners' Weekly

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by Fnaar, 7 Oct 2007.

  1. Fnaar

    Fnaar Smutmaster General

    Hello green-fingered folk.
    I have cleared a small plot in my garden, about 15ft by 10ft. I have dug it over, weeded thoroughly, dug in lots of compost etc. I basically want to grow veg. I have never done this before. It is October. Can I meaningfully make a start now, or do I have to wait till spring? Answers most welcome!
  2. twentysix by twentyfive

    twentysix by twentyfive Clinging on tightly

    Over the Hill
    Two things I'd get in about now would be Broad Beans and Japanese Onions.

    You'll need Aqua Dulce (variety) Broad Beans and Jap Onion sets.

    You'll get a loverly crop of BB's in May (before the black fly pounce hopefully) and the Onions can be lifted early summer. If the winter gets very cold it's usually best to put cloches over the onions but the BB's will be fine.

    And then you can get some other crop in after those cos there's still plenty of season next year.

    Last year my Jap onoins performed much better than the normal sowing of onions in the spring.

    Good luck with growing stuff. For me it's my second most favourite pastime after pedalling. Indeed the veg get done between bike rides - it's all so compatible.
  3. postman

    postman Legendary Member

    Meanwood ,Leeds
    Good on you .Great idea ,you will get many hours of pleasure i promise and endless cups of tea and biccies whilst you sit on your spade handle and admire your work.
  4. longers

    longers Veteran

    Cab will have some good ideas for your plot too I reckon.
  5. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Moderator

    We made over a small patch of ground to the side of our house for veggies this year - its been very sucessfull - although I spaced the carrots too far apart and we can eat a whole row in one sitting. Haven't bought any lettuce since about June this year. I'm just about to put in garlic which you apparently do at this time of year.
  6. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    I've just inherited an allotment and taken some time getting it back into order from bindweed and every other weed too. Broad beans, onions and garlic as the others have said are the obvious ones to plant now.
  7. Cab

    Cab New Member

    Not a bad time of year to be sowing a few things.

    In October I plant a few Japanese onions, its late so get them as sets (little baby onions). They're not the most useful crop, in that onions are dirt cheap. But they're quite fun and they'll give you a crop of onions a month or so before the main crop onions are ready.

    I also sow a few peas at this time of year, at the end of the month. Go for a variety that is really hardy, like 'douce provence' or 'feltham first'. If you can cover them with some fleecy stuff when the weather turns really parky that'll help, but they should over-winter with minimal losses. A good idea is to soak them overnight in water, then for an hour (no longer) in paraffin, you get better germination that way and less risk of mice eating them.

    Broad beans... Yep, but down in the South here I hold off till November. 'Aquadulce Claudia' is the best bet. Not the easiest of crops, there are some tricks to getting a good yield; dig some muck or compost in before sowing, ask again in Spring when they're in flower.

    Garlic goes in during November too. Go for a soft neck variety for storage. You can also get autumn planted shallots.

    Is the site sheltered or can you construct a simple cold frame? If you can, I'd also sow some winter lettuce ('arctic king' is good), rocket, mizuna, mibuna, etc. Basically, lots of salad leaves that'll survive cool weather.

    Now is also a great time to plan out where any fruit plants will go. You're best planting those from late autumn onwards, so if you'll be wanting currants, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, tayberries, apples, pears, or anything else really, its almost the time to look through catalogues, get to the shops, and pick things out.

    Now be careful... Right now you're looking at a nice, clear 10' by 15' and thinking that its a lot of space, but it isn't. Don't fill it up with a couple of crops that you can easily buy; its questionable whether growing onions is worth it, and it probably isn't even worth it for garlic. In that kind of space concentrate on what you really like, and what is really expensive or impossible to buy. Do you really like green salads, do you want the kind of expensive looking stuff you get in bags in supermarkets but with flavour that you can't buy? Concentrate on those. Carrots your thing, do you want root veg of a quality that can't be bought? Grow carrot varieties like 'sugarsnax', 'purple dragon' and 'red samurai', and other roots like salsify, scorzonera, celeriac and kohl rabi (all quite delicious). Like potatoes? Good for you, but if you're going to grow them stay away from the main crops and concentrate on earlies, get those lovely new potatoes and continue buying the main crop ones at the greengrocers, don't devote your time and precious space to it. Herbs give you best bang for buck (highest value and most flavour per unit space), runner and french beans are exquisite fresh, sweetcorn straight off the plant is amazing, beetroot is so sweet when fresh you won't believe it, once you've had your own mange tout and peas you'll never buy any again...

    Go browsing the seed company sites now for what you want for next year; I reccomend nickys nursery, real seed company, seeds of italy, as well as the bigger companies like kings, thompson and morgan, etc. Some good bargains to be had from seeds by size, if you can work out how his web site works :biggrin:

    Segregate your sections off for a simple rotation; you'll never stick to a strict crop rotation, but don't grow the same crop on the same place within a couple of years. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble if you stick to that advice!

    And, last bit of advice is don't worry. Really. You'll see weeds, carrots struggling to grow, cabbages being eaten away by pests you can't see, parsnip seedlings disappearing in the wilderness (although theres a trick to parsnips...), fennel running to seed, onions rotting... Don't worry about it. Some you win (most, in fact), some you lose. Thats just how it is. You'll be amazed by how many you do win; I guarantee you'll be worried about whether things are growing or not or whether you're going to get any crops at all, thats normal :biggrin:
  8. tomb1960

    tomb1960 New Member

    What's the trick to parsnips, I have never had any luck with them :biggrin:?
  9. ChrisW

    ChrisW Senior Member

    Sorry Guys,

    But shouldn't you be here?

    I planted a stem once in the hope of growing a whole Colnago frame. Didn't work!

    I'm trying with a spoke to see if i can get a Mavic bush...
  10. Cab

    Cab New Member

  11. Cab

    Cab New Member

    First thing people do wrong with parsnips is that they rusn outside in February or early March and sow all their parsnip seeds. The ground is claggy, cold and wet, and the seeds rot before they geminate. Let the ground warm up a bit first, hold back a bit before sowing.

    Next thing they do wrong is they use old seed. The shelf life of snip seeds is really short, get them fresh each year.

    The third thing they do wrong is they give up too early. Keep the row well marked, leave the string in place so you can see the young plants, and they'll germinate.

    The best trick to cheat is to pre-chit the seeds. That means germinate them before planting. Gat a placcy sandwich box, put some wet kitchen towel on the bottom. Scatter the seeds, cover with another sheet of wet kitchen paper, pour off excess poisture, put the lid on the box. Wait... Leave them in the corner of the living room for a week, then look at them. They should be germinating. Sow very carefully so as not to damage, and they'll be up and visible and out-growing direct sown parsnips within a fortnight.

    This year I sowed direct and pre-chitted, both rows came up fine. Pulled one out on Saturday, weighed comfortably over two pounds in weight.
  12. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    Interesting, might look for some of those. This year my onion crop has been great - enough to see me through to spring I reckon.

    I must be lucky. I can never get through the damn things, and I give half of them away! Great to get some in early though, and know that the season is already starting... Gives you hope through the winter.

    I believe the trick is to plant garlic cloves on the shortest day, and harvest on the longest.. Like, let your new age side take over, man...

    Question... I have a feral raspberry cane, growing on the outside of my fence, all among a bramble. Not a high cropper, just a few berries each week, which I eat while I lean on my spade... I'd like to move it inside to a proper plot and nuture it a bit, and have been told autumn is the time to move it. Should I prune it in any way? I realise you may not be able to say without knowing the variety, but I can't help there, except it fruits in July/August...

    Finally, my two penn'orth of advice. This year I grew some Pink Fir-apple spuds, they were lovely, they are really knobbly and odd looking, so you just scrub them and serve as new potatoes, but the flavour was lovely, and they have a certain novelty value. If you can get some, they are something you won't see in the supermarket.

    Dobies is a good seed supplier, although I now get mine through the allotment association, one of the guys buys in bulk and packages them up for us. I started out trying everything, but have gradually settled on the things that work well for me - bearing in mind the amount of time I'm willing to spend. Basically, that is onions, spuds, beans, sweetcorn and courgette/marrows (all stuff that can cope with a little neglect!) Every year brings a surprise - for example this year I've had one lousy courgette, but seem to be on course for a mountain of scallopini marrows, so I better find out how to cook 'em!
  13. OP

    Fnaar Smutmaster General

    Thaks folks for your's gonna have to be a few snatched hours on a Sat/Sun for the mo (a bit like my cycling :biggrin:) but I'll have a go...
    Dig for Victory!:biggrin:
  14. Cab

    Cab New Member

    I think it depends rather on where you are and what pests you get. Here, we can guarantee getting blackfly on broad beans, and as its so very dry we can be absolutely certain of getting ants milking the blackfly and protecting them from predators. You either have to spray or be very conscious of the need to pinch the growing tips of your broad beans out, or you'll end up with your crop being decimated. Early sown (i.e. over wintering) broad beans fare better, but they're still prone.

    Summer fruiting raspberry then, should have thrown some new green suckers up? Dig a few of those up, pot them up and mollycoddle them, they'll do fine. Plant out when you're sure its happy.

    Seconded, but beware that they're a late-ish main crop so they're in the ground for a long time. Very fine salad potato, a handome plant too.

    For novelty value, check out Thompson and Morgan this year. They're selling tubers of 'highland burgundy', 'shetland black' and 'salad blue'. More interesting colours in cooked potatoes you will never see.

    If you find that the nobblyness of pink fir apples is irritating, try also 'anya'. Its a desiree/pink fir apple cross, and it makes the best fried potato wedges you'll ever taste.
  15. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    Cheers, I'll have a hunt around the undergrowth and see what I can find.

    Ah, well, all my spuds went in very late this year, due to circumstances... I got my first 'new' potatoes in... um... August?

    Bizarrely, found flowers on my strawberries last week.... I need to sort the patch out, they are getting on for 4 years old, so I apparently probably need to get the old ones out and replace with runners. I think the runners have already rooted. Will it hurt if I just hoik the whole lot out and then put the newer ones back? I could do with really weeding the patch intensively (couch grass...:biggrin:)
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