Itís time to cut back the stems from last year. I cut them back to about 15cm when the ferns went yellow in early winter. Now I cut them to ground level & add a mulch of manure.
People say they are difficult to grow but they arenít. Just make sure that you have this yearís seed. Itís the only seed that I donít keep. The seeds are surrounded by blotting paper and I think it is hygroscopic. Providing the soil is the right temperature, about 7ļC, and you water the rows daily to keep the seeds damp, they germinate as quickly as most other seeds, about a couple of weeks.
Various salad crops
Lettuce, Beetroot and Radish
Having prepared a small area of these two beds earlier and covered them with fleece. I will be planting a vast variety of lettuces, hopefully for a continuous supply until the frosts arrive in November. I will plant them in inside in pots, a seed in each corner, before transplanting them when large enough. I did this for the first time last year to try to beat the gastropods.
Beetroots need to be bolt resistant. Oddly I have found Early Wonder, which is claimed to be resistant to bolting, bolts when planted early under fleece while French ones donít. It is claimed that the latter mature more slowly, but this is not the case in my experience, so that does not really explain why they donít bolt. My favourite is Detroit as it has am earthy flavour and does not readily go ďwoodyĒ. Home grown beetroot donít take nearly as long to cook as those from the shops. About 45 minutes is plenty, depending on size. Radishes go straight into the ground. I particularly like the dependable French Breakfast.
Early Carrots and Peas
Nantes, Early Nantes or Nantes 2 have a beautiful flavour and are planted under mesh. I plant peas in the same idiosyncratic but successful way as I do broad beans, (see ďThis MonthĒ), except instead of one seed I put three.
Red Baron sets
Red Onion sets
Planted later than white onion sets these are fantastic in salsas and sandwiches, not to mention a chutney. Red Baron store well, we are still using last yearís bulbs. Iím making a salsa tonight from a small one mixed with chopped avocado and cherry tomatoes topped off with lime juice and seasoning. Mrs DMP has used last yearís shallots to make a chutney to go with the Ricotta and Spinach pancakes. Lip smacking!
I plant these in late March : Lady Cristl. I donít dig a trench. Iíve put a mulch of manure on the top. I may fork it in when the time comes. I just dib a hole and drop the little darlings in, sprouts upwards.
Cabbage Calabrese & Sprouts
These are a big palaver as everything wants to eat them. Since we also want to I shall be having another bash. The sprouts were good, especially at Christmas, so Iíll be planting indoors in pots, as lettuce above, protecting with a collar upon planting out, and topping the lot off with a layer of micromesh. After that itís a question of manning the machine gun tower to put the marauding slugs and snails out of their misery. One time I managed to raise both green & red cabbages which were beautiful. Hereís hoping!
I am planting two types, both of which were successful last year, and both of which add to a salad if picked young: Perpetual and Viroflay.
A Pot with Leaks
These are versatile and what I really like about them is they will wait until you want to use them. We are still using last years, sweating them with a little butter as a side vegetable or using them as a base for a number of different soups. Thatís why I really go for a leek! The most tasty are Carentan, but Musselborough,Tropita and the unfortunately named Richard III are also reliable varieties.