The plot layout didn’t change from last year. The crops will rotate between the sections of the main vegetable patch (between the veg bed 1-2-3-4), following the four-year crop rotation system (see previous year’s planning here). I will extend the planting area into the front of the plot which I didn’t use last year, to accommodate for any excess amount of plants I end up having after planting up all the beds.
I still have a fair amount of seeds from last year so I will just use them all. I also will try a few new varieties and a few new plants I never grew before. For example sweet peppers and chillies, turnip and kale; or the potato variety of Arran Pilot.
Seed catalogues and the ordering of all the seeds
During the winter I realized there are a good amount of places out there where you can buy seeds. Apart from bigger supermarkets, there are garden centres and then there are the seed catalogues. An entire booklet just for seeds! So I just entered into the search engine ‘seed catalogue uk’ and went through pages after pages, websites after websites. I ended up ordering eight different catalogues.
- Mr Fothergill’s
- Thompson & Morgan
- Sarah Raven
When I got all of them I checked the prices in all and checked whether the seed varieties I wanted would be available in any. I also included the delivery charges. I was surprised that they were all quite similar in price. If one packet of seed was more expensive then another was cheaper within one particular company. So I ended up ordering from the one which had the most variety I wanted: Mr Fothergill’s.
The ordering process online was tricky though, as I just missed the minimum limit to qualify for free P&P. They threw in a 20% discount on two items, which lowered the overall price of my order moving it under the limit. Checking the order confirmation e-mail I realised my oversight, it was just not as clear as I would have preferred it. Well, maybe next year I will use my eyes. All the bulbs arrived 5 days later, and the seed packs 11 days from ordering (including 2 Sundays), which is within the promised 7-10 days delivery time.
Sowing schedule for the vegetables
I decided that I will try this year to sow by the Moon phases. There is this idea, that the Moon’s gravitational pull has an effect on the growth of the plants, and sowing them in their suggested times would create an optimal condition for the seeds to germinate, the seedlings to emerge and the plants to grow. The Moon’s four phases are its four quarters, from where I would sow only in the first three, as the fourth being a rest time.
I downloaded a free yearly planner from Calendarpedia (http://www.calendarpedia.co.uk/) and marked all the phases of the Moon in it. How did I know those? Well, I didn’t, I checked them on a few websites. (For example: https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/uk/london) Then I took the seed packs one by one and checked the suggested times for sowing. For example, tomatoes are to be sown from February to April. Tomatoes are above ground producing annuals, where the seeds form inside the fruit, thus it should be sown in the second quarter, which is the week leading to full moon (13-19 Feb, 15-21 March, 13-18 April). Considering we can only plan Saturdays into this equation safely as we work during the week, there is only one Saturday in each month when sowing of the tomatoes are available (15 Febr/16 March/13 April).
The next step was to set up a spread sheet with the plants, varieties, month and manually input the dates as calculated above. For all the hundred plants! Then colour code them, sort them by date and then just copy & paste the upcoming month. I ended up with a pretty sheet:
I am hoping that this will help to keep track most of the things I’ll need to sow.
Our allotment site in the last few weeks were quite busy. We are creating new plots, covering existing walkways with wood chips, plowing the plots to get ready for potato planting. There are committee meetings and site inspections, pot exchanges and manure ordering. Spring is on the way. We are getting ready.