Monthly Archives: January 2011

Seed for 2011

Last Friday we popped to Aylett’s to buy seed potatoes.

The medium bags cost £3.35 and we bought two, filling them to the brim with the following:

  • Arran Pilot (Early) – 16 potatoes
  • King Edward (Main) – 22 potatoes
  • Maris Piper (Main) – 20 potatoes
  • Pentland Squire (Main) – 29 potatoes

I think £6.70 for 87 seed potatoes (just over 4.5 kilos in weight) is pretty good value!

Over the weekend, we bought seeds for the forthcoming year, both for the garden and the new allotment.

From The Real Seed Catalogue:

  • Cauliflower: Green £0.99
  • Cauliflower: Ottobrino Romanesco £0.99
  • Courgette: Trieste White £1.67
  • Mange-tout Pea: Golden sweet  £1.57
  • Pepper: Dedo de Mocha sweet Aji £1.89
  • Pumpkin: Cheyenne Bush £1.92

With £1.69 postage that came to £10.72

From Thompson & Morgan:

  • Beetroot : Globe : Detroit 6 : Rubidus £1.99
  • Cucumber ‘Long White’ £0.69
  • Cos Lettuce ‘Little Gem’ £1.69
  • Parsnip : Tender & True £1.89
  • Pepper : Sweet : Orange Bell £1.79
  • Sweetcorn : Red Strawberry £2.99
  • Sweetcorn : Extra Tender & Sweet F1 Hybrid £2.19

Seeds cost £13.23 and the initial postage of £2.29 was refunded due to late delivery.

We also have lots of seeds remaining from previous years, that we will also plant this year.

  • Broccoli: Extra Early Sprouting Rudolp
  • Cabbage: Savoy January King 3
  • Carrot: Chantenay Red Cored 2
  • Corn Salad (Lamb’s Lettuce)
  • Courgette: One Ball F1
  • Courgette: Tristan F1
  • Leaf Salad: Spicy Mix (Suttons)
  • Leek: Musselburgh Improved
  • Parsnip: White Gem
  • Pea: Hurst Greenshaft
  • Sugarsnap Peas: Sugar Ann (2 packs)
  • Sweetcorn: Ovation F1
  • Tomato: Harbinger
  • Tomato: Sungold F1
  • Tomato: Super Marmande
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Sweet Basil
  • Thyme

We found Real Seeds via recommendations from fellow gardeners on twitter and on UK Veg Gardeners, a fantastic place to discuss gardening with fellow enthusiasts.

Also recommended were Marshall’s Seeds, Moles Seeds, Laura’s Organics, Premier Seeds Direct, More Veg, Edwin Tucker, Garden Organic (formerly known as Henry Doubleday), Heirloom Tomatoes and Alan Romans.

I’ll be looking at these suppliers in the future.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

We enjoyed our first crop of 2011 this weekend – purple sprouting broccoli; a very early variety that came free with seed packs for other vegetables grown during the last year.


There’s something very wonderful about opening the back door and harvesting something colourful and delicious, under grey cloudy skies.

FirstPSB-5521 FirstPSB-5523

We served it very simply – steamed and with melted butter and Maldon sea salt.

It was delicious! I am not a fan of normal broccoli but have discovered only very recently that I rather like this purple sprouting stuff. I’m looking forward to subsequent pickings over the next month or two.

Winter Pruning

One of the many great aspects of our new allotment is the presence of so many permanent features, including a number of fruit trees. We have two apple trees – a cooking and an eating one – as well as a couple of trees which I think are probably plum, and a further couple that are, until they start growing in the spring, complete mysteries!

I think they’ve been left pretty much to their own devices for quite a while; they clearly all need some pruning, and after some research it turns out that winter is an ideal time to deal with the apples (plum trees, apparently, are better off being pruned in early summer).

It’s a bit of a balancing act; on the one hand, both trees need a fairly harsh prune to bring them more under control. On the other, apples only form on old wood, so if I prune them hard then we wouldn’t get any apples. In the end I restricted myself to reducing both their height and spread a little, and thinning out the worst of the overlapping branches internally. This is the first time I’ve actually pruned fruit trees of any sort, so I shall wait and see how well they cope – at least they are both big, established trees so it’s unlikely I’ll manage to kill them on my first attempt!

Feedback 2010 Seeds

Potato: Home Guard (earlies) – low yield, lesions/disease, delicious but wouldn’t grow again
Potato: Red Duke of York (earlies) – left in late so large, taste OK, nothing exciting
Potato: Rooster (main) – good yield, good shape and decent taste
Potato: Pentland Dell (main) – very good yield, good size, decent taste, grow again

Lettuce: Chartwell – we didn’t grow much but what came through was excellent

Gherkin: Diamant F1 – not a great yield but decent little gherkins

Sweetcorn: Honey Bantam F1 – a critter destroyed virtually whole crop, no idea on taste

Courgette: One Ball F1 – excellent yield, beautiful golden globes, good taste

Tomatoes: Sungold F1 – medium yield (but poor growing year overall), fantastic flavour and colour, definitely grow again
Tomatoes: Super Marmande – suffer worse than others in difficult weather, very mealy and bland, not grow again
Tomatoes:  Harbinger – poor yield, bland, not grow again

Sugarsnap Peas: Sugar Ann – Delicious, grow again

Peppers: Golden Bell F1 – low yield but attractive and good taste, grow again

Raspberries: Autumn Bliss -got confused and cropped early summer as well as autumn, delicious, look forward to heavier crop in future years

Rhubarb: Victoria – grew well at first but almost killed by a critter, didn’t harvest any in 2010

Tayberry: Rubus – no harvest in 2010, but hoping it’s alive and may grow in 2011

Gooseberry: Ribes Uva-crispa (a dark red variety) – no harvest in 2010, but hoping it’s alive and may grow in 2011

Apple: Cox’ Orange Pippin – seems to have bedded in well, good blossoms, produced a handful of small fruit


Purple Sprouting Broccoli: Extra Early Sprouting Rudolph
Carrots: Supreme Chantenay Red Cored (£1.89)
Leeks: Musselburgh Improved (£1.99)