Home brewing antics can now be found at my other blog; http://gettinggrist.blogspot.com/

Friday, 31 January 2014

Feeling Chilli?

It's time to turn up the heat. As chilli peppers have a long growing time before fruiting and ripening, they need to be started early.

I only included chilli's in my growing plans two years ago and I've never had trouble producing fruits from plants on the kitchen windowsill. This year I'm stepping up production as I've gone for 5 varieties and I'm going try some of them outside in growbags, in a sheltered spot at home.

Although a high temperature is required for germination, I don't have a heated propagator and mine have always started well enough. I use small margarine tubs - as I only need a couple of plants for each variety, using a whole seed tray for each of the five varieties seems a bit lavish.

Earlier in the month I brought in some seed compost from the shed - no seed is going to like cold January compost. I propped it up against a radiator in the spare room for a week or so (on an old piece of lino to save any hysterics from the wife).

Once sown in the tubs, I lightly water and cover them with a plastic freezer bag. This helps maintain warmth, moisture and humidity and I place them in the boiler cupboard, which is the warmest place in the house.

Then, once germination has started, I'll move them to a light windowsill and pot them on once two true leaves have formed.

This year's varieties can be found in my 2014 seed list HERE

Friday, 24 January 2014

Potatoes 2014

I mentioned in an earlier post that the local 'Potato Day' had managed to pass me by all these years. The opportunity to peruse over 80 varieties of seed potato and to purchase, by the individual tuber if required, is a great initiative and I understand these events happen up and down the country at this time of the year.

And I only obtained the information from a bedfellow at the local hospital (they say every cloud has a silver lining) during an unplanned stay last year. Without it, I doubt I would have been any the wiser, as their marketing is hardly state-of-the-art;

You'll need to click  this to see

In my quest to find the perfect jacket spud, I selected the varieties listed below. And, as mentioned in last year's post on the great jacket potato quest, it's not just general size and fluffiness I'm after. They need to perform well on my particular plot, in terms of resistance to disease and pests. I'm fed up of lifting nice big spuds, only to find the calling card of slugs and wireworms all over them.

1. Cara (1976) - the benchmark by which all others will be judged. We've had cracking results from Cara in the past, although the most recent harvest did also succumb to the wireworm holes. But in every other respect, they perform.

2. Picasso (1992) - Bred from Cara, but matures a few weeks earlier. This means the tubers aren't in the ground for quite so long, which to my way of thinking, gives the pests less time to cause damage. The description given by the wholesaler also suggests they grow 'over large' if left in too long. How could I resist?

3. Kerr's Pink (1917) - I thought I'd give an old variety a go. A late maincrop variety, with floury flesh and a good flavour according to the marketing blurb.

4. Setanta (1992) - An early maincrop, apparently one of the most blight-resistant varieties in the UK. It's also a red-skinned variety. It may be coincidence, but in my previous trials, the red potatoes have always succumbed to the least damage by slugs and wireworms, so I'll be very interested to see how these fare.

5. Rudloph (2000) - Early maincrop, which was bred to be so fluffy it needs no fat added when used as a baker. I have seen some reports that tubers can be a shade small for decent jacket spuds, but we'll see. And it's another red variety.

6. Ramos -  I purchased these tubers online. I couldn't find out too much about this variety, but I included it as I had a few from the supermarket the other day and they were outstanding. Whether they will grow well for me, though, is another matter. A white, early maincrop.

The other advantages of buying the seed on Potato Day, is that you get to select the tubers yourself, so you have no one else to blame in terms of size and quality.

Potato Day!

And at 22p a tuber, they're very cost effective. Hit the link to the Kerrs Pink with Thompson & Morgan and you'll see they want £5.49 for 10 tubers, plus £4.95 P&P. As they say, you do the math.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Seed List 2014

Here's the complete list of vegetable seeds I'll be attempting to grow in 2014. As in previous years, most will link to the seed company descriptions.

I'll do a separate post for the potatoes I've chosen in my continuing quest for the perfect baker.

Basket Of Fire
Bulgarian Carrot
Hungarian Hot Wax

Bloody Butcher

White King


Royal Chantenay 3
Amsterdam Forcing 3
Nantes 2 (French seed)

Sparkler 3



Red Veined 



? (French seed)

Detroit 3 Elna (French seed)

Blue Lake


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Foreign Seeds for 2014

It's rather sad of me I know, but when I'm away on vacation with the family I always make time to peruse the seeds on offer in the French shops, to bring back something different for the following growing year.

To be honest, most of the varieties are the same as the big seed companies offer over here, but it's still nice to grab a few. The wife gets expensive perfume, shoes and bags - I get seeds.

Last summer I purchased these;

Even my basic French can see that the carrots are a Nantes 2 variety.

The beetroot is a Detroit 3 'Elna'. I've seen plenty of Detroit 2's in the seed catalogues over here, but couldn't find much info on the '3', but I'm guessing they will be much the same and there's a bit more information on the 'Detroits' HERE.

Now the courgette's I had trouble identifying. The direct translation of their description reads 'rustic and hasty' and 'green non-runner of market gardens'.So it's probably safe to presume they are on old variety that are quick to fruit and that don't have a trailing habit. Maybe 'All Green Bush'?

So that's the foreign purchased seed. The full seed list for 2014 will follow in the next post.