winter scene snow on branches

We sowed our first seeds of the year on 11th January: a number of different (fairly) hot chilli varieties. Some were new seeds this season, a few were left over from last year. We sowed them in coir soaked in a seaweed based liquid feed diluted according to directions for germination/seedlings, one per root trainer and let them to germinate in the propagator set to 25ºC. With the lights it tends to register at 26-27ºC. The lights are on for 12 hours.  By 28th January most of all varieties but the Fatalli Red had germinated. A week later two of the fatalli reds had come through. Some of the other seedlings were failing to thrive but others had developed leaves.

Worried that I was getting the moisture & nutrient balance wrong using the coir or it was now too hot for them in the propagator I transplanted the larger seedlings into individual pots of compost/coir mixture and moved them onto the heat mat, still under lights.  As I write there are still only two fatalli reds but reasonably pleased so far with the others, a few of them pictured below next to a tray of mixed flower seeds. A small improvement on last year but a long way to go yet! 

Seedlings 2021 02 Feb

Seedlings 2021 01 Feb

In the meantime I sowed a couple of varieties of leek (in home made loo-roll pots). The first batch were Stromboli and the second batch (above) Cairngorm.  The loo-rolls make good degradable pots. Last year I experimented by transplanting seedings into them when I moved them to the greenhouse and then when it was time to plant out it was very easy, planting the lot without disturbing the roots.  This year I have sown straight into the loo-roll pots, but the downside is it take up a lot of space.  I will have to go back to th eold method otherwise I won't have enough leeks to last through next winter.

I had decided not to grow carrots this year but I still had a lot of seeds, so I sowed several batches of early forcing carrots which have all germinated nicely.  The bathroom window sill is now full trays of carrot and leek seedings which I'll transplant into a couple of large grow bags rather than into the garden this year.  

Last week I sowed a few rosa bianca aubergines and gardeners' delight tomatoes. Not many as they will need to stay in doors until at least the end of April. I'll give away most of the tomato plants and sow an assortment of varieties later, but by growing them indoors for longer I'm hoping the aubergines will get a good start. They were rather late last year.

In the tunnel the Zaragoza F1 cauliflowers are developing heads and the cabbages (Duncan) are filling out nicely. The broccoli seems to have stalled but still look healthy. And there aren't too many slugs. The first batch of broad beans have now been transplanted into their final grow bags and the second batch progressed out of the root trainers into pots. The peas are doing nicely but I'm disappointed with the sweet peas. 

In the garden the savoy cabbages have withstood the frost and snow as have a number of slugs which are keeping themselves fat on the outside leaves. It's hard to pull them off with freezing fingers. We have harvested the last of the leeks and red cabbages. The rhubarb is forcing its way up. It has spread well since we planted it over two years ago and this year we will finally be able to treat ourselves to a full harvest.