(Perennials hardening off outside after overwintering in the greenhouse )
(The picture of innocence)
A while ago I started off our first veg plants of the year - tomatoes, sweet peppers, chillis and aubergines, all of which do well when they have a long growing season. This weekend I will be following that up with some okra and things such as parsnips and turnips. This year I'm really going to try my hand at successional sowing and companion planting to try and get the best out of our food crops.
(Sweet pepper seedlings)
- Always buy seeds that are viable for at least two years after you buy them, so that you can use them again next year too.
- Always buy packets with limited numbers of seeds. There's no need to grow 500 carrots at once - it's better to grow too little than too much.
- Go with a list of all the sorts of veg you want to grow that year and can find space for.
- Research varieties etc. before you go, or refer to your own notes about which varieties work for you.
- Try and find alternatives for F1 varieties - yes, F1s are pretty reliable and heavy cropping, but the seed doesn't come true , so you won't be able to save the seed and grow the same thing from them next year. This year I'm trying a Heritage tomato variety - a Brandywine - to see if the old and endangered varieties are worth growing.
- Buy from reliable seed companies! I won't name names, but some companies are what I can only call bloody useless. Or check out places such as Lidl for seeds at really low prices - if they don't work, you won't have spent very much at all.
- Try saving your own seed for next year and swapping with friends and neighbours, especially with annual flowers. F1 varieties don't come true, but could still produce some yummy veg - give it a go!
Our bees seem to be having a good start. All the hives survived the winter, and don't seem to have minded being moved to a new out-apiary either. This year we are planning a massive requeening programme - all our hives need requeening and we'd like to breed our own new queens from one of our older but friendly Hawaiian crosses. All the hives are bringing in pollen and judging from the number of stings I received this morning they're feeling pretty active!
(Demijohns of deliciousness)
(Double chevron pattern - work in progress)
I have also discovered a technique that supposedly outdates weaving! It is called sprang and you can find a fantastic website about it here, in English and Dutch. www.denblauwenswaen.nl/engels.htm These people also have some brilliant demonstrative videos on Youtube under the name of Denblauwenswaen.