Greetings from Lancashire...
It’s been a chilly and wet January, but I’m glad to report that I’ve managed to get my ‘Burpee’s Super Sauce’ tomato and ‘Raspberry Ripple’ aubergine seeds to germinate on my windowsill. As the outdoor temperatures were so cold at the start of the month I put my trays in an electric propagator and used an LED grow lamp. With that combination I’ve managed to get a 100% germination rate with all the seeds putting up shoots. I didn’t bother with extra heat for my Leek ‘Below Zero’ seed but they have germinated well nevertheless. My onion ‘Ailsa Craig’ isn’t showing yet, but I often find that onions are slow compared to other vegetables.
February '23 Sowings
Pea ‘Purple Magnolia’
I’m still sowing and growing microgreens – which are usually ready to eat after 10 days and add lots of flavour when sprinkled on to meals as a garnish.
I’m trying an early sowing of Pea ‘Purple Magnolia’ - this is a purple-podded ‘snap’ pea. Its sweet flavour and crunchiness are best enjoyed raw and it has lovely pink and purple flowers. I’ve sown mine directly into a large container (about 30cm in diameter) which I prepared using peat-free multipurpose compost and chicken manure pellets. I put the seeds 2.5cm deep and will add the supports for them to climb up next month. As my garden can be a frost pocket in the winter I’ve put the container outside in a sunny spot, away from any cold winter winds.
The rest of this month’s sowings will be indoors on my windowsill as they are tender vegetables that need extra heat and warmth. I’ll put them into my heated propagator on my windowsill as last month’s seedlings should now be able to cope with just a cover to maintain their temperature.
Tomato Micro Cherry
This month’s tomato is ‘Micro Cherry’; a small plant with tiny, sweet tomatoes. These are ideal for containers as they have a bushy, trailing growth habit and don’t need much support. They will grow indoors or outside in a sunny, sheltered spot. As with last month’s tomato I’ve sowing one seed per module and lightly covered them with 0.5cm of compost. They need a temperature of 15 – 20 degrees to start the germination process, so I’ll put them in my heated propagator with a plastic cover until the seedlings appear
Sweet Pepper 'Redskin'
I’ve sown seeds for Sweet Pepper ‘Redskin’ F1 (with an Award of Garden Merit) using the same technique as with the tomato seeds. These will produce dwarf plants up to 30cm tall, so they’ll fit into containers in my greenhouse. If you’ve got a sunny, sheltered patio they will grow well there too.
Cucumber Party Time
I’m very partial to homegrown cucumbers, which have so much more flavour than shop-brought ones. Unfortunately most cucumber varieties need a lot of space and my greenhouse isn’t very big. So this year I’ve sown seeds for the compact Cucumber ‘Party Time’; it will grow to 2 metres high but is only 50cm wide so I have space to put in a large container with a sturdy support. I’m starting off the seeds 1cm deep in 9cm wide pots (yoghurt pot size) on my windowsill. They can’t tolerate any frost so I’ll wait for warmer weather before I put them in the greenhouse.
If you’re growing seedlings on your windowsill, make sure your check them regularly and turn the trays around daily so the stems don’t all lean towards the light and topple over. Be careful not to overwater seedlings, as they use up very little water. Even in a heated propagator you may not need to water a tray of small seedlings more than once a week. Remember that using a plastic cover not only keeps in the warmth but will stop water evaporating too.