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Vivi’s Kitchen Garden 74: Starting the first vegetable seeds; celeriac and peppers.

SAM_1137

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March in the Kitchen Garden

Last month we were under starter’s orders……this month the tape is finally up and we’re off! But still at a sedately pace.

I love March in the kitchen garden as it’s the month when I finally start sowing seed in earnest and get back onto the soil after what feels like the longest time. It is still far too cold in my garden to be sowing anything outdoors but indoors I will be starting my tomatoes, celery and leeks in the second week and, towards the end of the mosam_0839nth, I’ll start the squash and cucumbers. The window sills will be heaving under trays full of little paper pots…..and I shall bound out of bed each morning to see what, if anything, has germinated and I’ll squeal with delight at every little head that pops up.

The real work, though, will be happening on the soil; a busy month when I’ll be harvesting all the last of the winter crops…..carrots, parsnips and the brasicas…..they’ll come home and be processed for storing (mostly in the freezer). Once the beds are clear of veg I’ll start adding fertiliser, digging trenches, sifting soil and raising mounds. The grass paths will get their first trim of the year. I’ll mark out the beds with sticks to remind myself where to sow according to the plan I made over winter. If I had been able to get the green manure in last autumn it would be getting dug in now too.

It is tradition to get the potatoes in on St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th of March – I’ve never been organised enough to do it on this date until this year – so we’ll see if I get a better yield for getting them in earlier. They have been chitting away for the last four weeks and have lovely, short, sturdy chits on them. Don’t worry if yours aren’t ready – I have sown mine as late as early May and still had good results.

And if we get some decent sunny days the shed will get a lick of top coat….and maybe a tidy.

Happy March soil time and seed sowing.

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January in the Kitchen Garden

I love January in the Kitchen Garden – a whole new year to play with and get excited about. The days are short but there are still plenty of things to be getting on with.

This month I shall continue with some of the structures and landscaping. I’ll do some tool maintenance: get edges sharpened, oil hinges, fix loose handles etc. When I visit the garden I’ll keep an eye on the crops still in the ground and remove anything that looks diseased…….I’ll also do the same with my stored harvests……a quick, weekly, check over to remove spoiled veg now will save heartache at an entirely ruined store later on.

My big job for January, though, is to sort my sam_0648seeds and make the plan. Ooooh – I love it and get overly excited at the prospect of all the new veg to eat as the year progresses. Being something of a nerd this a highly organised exercise…..I start with a plan of the garden and write in where each veg will be grown – quite an easy exercise as it follows on from the previous years successes just moved a bed over…..and anything I didn’t enjoy gets dropped. Then I start to go through my seeds, in order of the beds they will be planted in, to see if I need to buy anything.

Over the last couple of years as I have learned more about my plants I have been able to save more and more seed…..so the shopping list is quite small. I buy organic seed from three small companies who have full trace-ability for their growing conditions etc…..I also buy seed from plants grown in the UK…..not only because they should be more acclimatised but because there will be less miles involved in getting them to me (I am passionate about trying to reduce the use of finite resources such as petro-chemicals). I never have an excess of seed – just the amount I need for my own eating needs – but, if I do have a really good harvest of seed I exchange them with friends and double the joy.

Once I have all my seed and my plan the rest is simple (!!)….I make a list of times to sow (indoors or out) and stick it on the pinboard at home…….and then practice patience. I generally start to sow indoors about mid-March to time my plantlets to our last frost at the end of May. I don’t use heated propagators or growing lights for the (eco) reason above – I work with Mother Nature and she generally rewards me with yummy things to eat.

Happy January planning folk and, when you can, step out into the garden and enjoy the blasts of fresh air and birdsong.