The following notes accompany the BBC Radio Leicester Gardens Hour between 1 and 2pm on Sundays, on your smart speaker, DAB, 104.9FM and BBC Sounds. I’m writing this in advance so you can follow what seeds I might be talking about.
It’s been difficult over the past week getting hold of any fresh fruit and veg. Quite dismaying to see empty supermarket shelves. I didn’t stockpile, so we are literally running out of everything.
After a bit of a panic, I’ve settled down to this plan of action. Here’s what I’m growing.
Microgreens and Sprouting Seeds
All you need is a kitchen windowsill to grow sprouting seeds. This tiered growing kit comes from Johnsons Seeds, but you could just use a plate with moist kitchen paper, or a shallow tray with compost for the microgreens. Cheap and easy to grow, adds nutrients to soups stews and sandwiches. Perhaps you’ve done this before with children, growing cress and mustard. It’s the same principle.
Radish Mino Early
Microgreens Gourmet Garnish
Beetroot for leaves
Mung beans for stir fries.
Microgreens are grown until they are a couple of inches tall, and then trimmed using scissors. You can repeat this process a few times.
Bean sprouts and seeds are grown for 3-5 days and harvested when approx 2.5cm long
Mixed cut and come again salad
I like the idea of these pre-sown mats. All you have to do is pop the mats on top of a pot of compost snd water them. Fuss-free growing. Pick leaves from the outside when they are 5cm (2″) high, leaving the centre of the plants to carry on growing. Anyone can use these. They are great for children too.
I’m growing peas in shallow trays. They will be harvested when the shoots are 4″. The plants will regrow snd you can repeat the process several times. After this, I plant the peas in a 10″ pot in the greenhouse and they grow on to produce a good crop of pea pods. Any edible pea variety can be used. Friends have even used dried peas from the supermarket.
Herbs in Pots
I’ll sow herbs in individual cells, a few seeds per cell. The cells will be moved on to 5″ pots and eventually they will stand on a sunny patio. Meanwhile, I will just keep pinching out the tips to use to liven up pasta and rice dishes, and this will also make the plants bushy.
Spring onions will be sown in 10″ pots and kept in the cold polytunnel. They are ideal for growing in containers. They are quick growing and can be sown successionally from March to September. One item I do have is a huge bag of potatoes, luckily. Some mashed potato topped with grated cheese and chopped spring onions turns a simple dish into a tasty treat.
Baby leaf spinach is a favourite here, full of vitamins and goodness. I’ll grow these in recycled polystyrene boxes from a delicatessen, garden centre cafe. You could also use window boxes, or 10″ pots.
Nano is a new dwarf variety perfect for containers. A few clippings of dill turns any dish into a feast. I make a sauce with mayonnaise, butter and dill to add to fish. Totally delicious and full of vitamins. I’ll sow this 3 or 4 seeds to a cell and then the plants will be moved into window boxes.
Round carrots, such as Paris Market or Rondo are perfect for containers and are relatively fast growing. You can also clip some of the leaves to use in salads without it depleting the roots.
TOMATOES – more long term, but starting now …
I’ve a selection of dwarf cherry tomatoes for eventually growing in pots on the patio. These won’t need tall canes for support and won’t need pinching out. They naturally branch into small bushy plants. Started now in a warm window or a propagator at 18C, I’ll be eating tomatoes in June. Hopefully.
I like baby cucumbers for summer salads. I’m growing Beth and La Diva. I’m also trying a new variety, Swing this year. Half fill a 3″ pot with compost and place the seed on edge. Water with tepid tap water. Keep warm at 18-21C. As soon as the seeds grow out of the top of the pot, add more compost around the stem. Harden off carefully, putting the delicate plants in the propagator over night and out in the greenhouse in the day to prevent damping off disease. Keep warm until June. I’m planning to grow some outdoor and some in the poly tunnel.
SOMETHING FOR CHILDREN
With children off school, cress seeds will be a winner. And also start off sunflowers, not to eat, but to brighten the garden and maybe for a competition to see who can grow the tallest.
My propagator glowing in the dark
It’s been a challenging time where stress levels have been through the roof here. But I feel calmer with a plan of action. Just sowing a few seeds has given me some respite from worries. It’s been a welcome distraction from covid troubles.
Let me know how you are getting on. Have you found it difficult to buy supplies. What are you growing their spring?
Links : seeds from Mr Fothergills https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/
Plants of distinction : http://www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk/