The science of gardening (BBC)

Seed saving, soil science, microscopy, weather, slow motion photography of plants; what’s not to like? This Gardener’s World special has some good set pieces about the science of gardening, and makes me wonder why Carol Klein didn’t get the main presenter’s job on GW. Better hurry, though. It’s only on iplayer for the next couple of days…

My take-home message about prolonging the life of seed is that heat and water inhibit the storing of seeds, and that one should first dry seeds to remove any free water inside, then store them in a cool place or even the freezer. A good dessicator is rice that’s been heated in low oven for a couple of hours.


Catch-up: alliums & halloween

There’s lots to catch up on, both in what I want to post on the blog and also what I’ve got to do on the allotment. My bad back is pretty much fixed and I’ve been down the plot to plant some over-wintering onions (radar) and some garlic.

Onions in the bed

Onions in the bed

These have gone into the South side of the plot, which I’m keeping as beds. The North side is going to go into one big plot, which should keep the maintenance down, and as recommended by the allotment officer.

When I was down there I collected the last fresh produce of the year: a single pea-pod and some beetroot. The beetroot went into the halloween roast dinner, and we found out the younger daughter likes it.

scary daughter

scary daughter

That’s not the last of the produce from the plot. I’ve still got the sage to cut back for Winter, and I’ve a few onions and shallots still to use. And there’s a couple of pots of jam. I’d prefer to be in a better position in the run-up to Winter…

I also brought back the last flower, an English Marigold, and some seed heads of both English and French Marigolds. Since my daughters haven’t auto-reset their body clocks to GMT, we were up very early this morning saving the seed.

last flower of the year

last flower of the year

saving seed

saving seed

Today’s haul of seeds

Very excited by the seed order that arrived today from the organic gardening catalogue: peas (greenshaft), thyme, savoy cabbage (vertus), wild flowers and sunflower seeds. Must not be tempted by any more seeds this year…

peas – my daughter loves peas, so this year I’ll be trying to grow them for the first time.

savoy cabbage – I love savoy cabbage, but between ordering the seeds and receiving them I’ve been forced to admit that my family doesn’t. And now I have 190 seeds that should be sown by 2011. Which, for the stats fans, works out at 63 per year or 1.2 per week. I wonder if they’re suitable as Christmas presents…

thyme – mostly for the garden. The current plants are a few years old and quite woody, so this is to replenish the stock. I’ll be making a small herb bed and including the parsely and coriander seeds that are left over from last year.

wild flowers – who doesn’t like wild flowers? Having just heard that the Save our bees project have had unprecedented demand and are limiting their stock to one packet per person, these will come in handy. The mixture is selected by John Chambers, and I note this RHS webpage with gardening advice on wildflower meadows

sunflowers – cucumerifolius variety that should grow to 90cm. These should work well with the daughter and her friends, who are all 2 – 3 years old and about 90cm tall. I also have a few seeds from my Mum, and these are the 2.5 metre giants that’ll tower above us all. I might just have to grow those at home so they can be seen up and down the street

the back room is a nursery/sonic youth

The flat has been quiet over the last few days, and I’ve had some time to change things round. Worked ’til midnight last night moving the back room round. Eventually it’ll be the daughter’s bedroom but it’s been a clothes drying room and general junk room for over a year now, so I’ve created an interim configuration and cleared some trash. With the cabinet by the window, I can propagate seeds:



On the left are 28 broad bean seeds (Bunyards Exhibition) to go where the first lot of Aqualdulce Claudia failed to germinate (outdoors sowing is more tricky). I’ve fashioned a bubblewrap cover and use a bent coathanger to keep it off the modules. On the right is a tray of parsley (plain leaved 2) and a tray of leek (bandit). Still got lots of seed left: 27 broad beans; 2/3 of the parsley; 1/2 the leeks.

Enjoyed myself thoroughly this evening sowing the seeds, playing Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth on the hifi. It’s probably my all time favourite album…

Everybody’s talking about the stormy weather, what’s a man to do but work out whether it’s true?

Shame I couldn’t find a decent video of Hey Joni on youtube:

In this broken town, can you still jack in and know what to do?

Ambitions for the year

Last year was pretty crap on the plot. This year will be better. Better organised, for sure, and hopefully better produce. Today I received my seeds from Garden Organic: climbing French beans (Neckar Queen), broad beans (Super aquadulce), calabrese (green sprouting), leeks (bandit), turnips (purple top milan) and coriander leaf. And a sieve, which my daughter models with aplomb:

here’s the sieve

Cost: £17.32