February's undercover sowings

News and Results from February’s Undercover Sowings

This year has been quite an experiment so far. For the first time, I’ve had my very own greenhouse and windowsills that get enough sun for me to sow early.

I’ve been sowing since the beginning of February on windowsills, and the middle of February in the greenhouse. I chose veg that germinates in low temperatures, and are hardy enough to survive being moved from sill to greenhouse, or greenhouse to the veg patch before the weather really warms up.

Broad Beans
My most successful sowing has been the Bunyards Exhibition broad beans, which I sowed indoors on February 2nd. From the outset, these broadies were tough. I had no idea of the cold days and nights that lay ahead, so when the seedlings reached a few inches high, straight to the greenhouse they went.

Despite being transferred from my warm spare room to the low single degrees greenhouse without much time (well, any time) to adapt, they grew on well, and I transplanted them to the patch the day before it snowed in April (idiot). Again, they survived and now look healthy. I definitely feel I stole a march on these.

Good Peas and Great Mangetout
Other successes were the Heritage Seed Library Essex Star pea and Golden Sweet mangetout (pictured) I bought from Real Seeds. I sowed these into pots in the greenhouse on February 15th, and all have given excellent germination results. This week I transplanted both outside after hardening them off over a few days.

Radish Transplantation?
I sowed some old radish seeds on the 15th too, in a length of guttering. I don’t really know what my end goal was here and the radishes have turned out to be a sort of man-boy experiment. Now they’ve germinated, I’ve attempted to slide the soil out of the guttering and into prepared trenches. To my surprise, the radishes have taken and I can proudly announce I’ve transplanted radish seedlings. This is entirely pointless, but strangely satisfying all the same.

Salad Leaves and Strawberry Plants
My greenhouse mixed salad leaves (end of Feb) are coming on well, and I’ve germinated February-sown celeriac, but even now the seedlings are only a centimetre high. Mind you, I’m told this is good as celeriac apparently takes ages. A real turn around has arrived via five greenhouse strawberry plants that were initially so small I rejected them in Autumn on quality control grounds.

I didn’t have the heart to toss the plants in the compost bin, so put all five into a planter in the greenhouse and forgot about them. However, after treating the strawbs to compost they’ve been rejuvenated and are now bigger than the strawberries I planted onto my plot.

Not So Good Peas and Slow Beets
There have been disappointments though. I sowed a whole batch of Real Seeds Telegraph peas, of which only a handful germinated. This might be due to them being maincrop pea, and maybe needing a higher temperature than the early Essex Star and Golden Sweet, as a second March sowing is germinating well.

My beets have been very slow. I sowed some in modules on February 17th, with the intention of attempting to transplant them outside under my Acrylicloche, which has been readied for action for some time. However,  8 weeks later and the beetroot seedlings are still tiny and nowhere near being planted out.

Similarly, the Early Scarlet Horn carrots I sowed in a container in the greenhouse germinated eventually, but have been very gradual in their growth. Only as the temperatures have risen over the last week have they got noticeably bigger.

More Greenhouse Love
I’m still sowing in the greenhouse, but now that temperature has got higher things are a lot quicker to happen.

I did post a few weeks ago about Greenhouse Love, and I must confess that during the depressing, cold start to spring that the greenhouse was my saviour. Having the space to sow seeds in a (slightly) warmer environment and seeing things happen that bit earlier is a real joy.

And getting out and making a start on the season’s veg as early as February is a much-needed pickup during a traditionally gloomy time for the gardener.

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