My seeds have arrived! There are a few newcomers, plenty of reliable regulars and a handful of long lost friends. My job now is to make them all feel at home
The first newcomer to enter the germinator will be the colourful chilli collection. These range from the fiery cayenne to the more docile Hungarian hot wax. Chillis can be slow to germinate so I might have to relocate them into a plastic bag if there is too much of a queue for the germinator. I love chillis and thankfully slugs don’t, so if they all germinate we should have a enough for a chilli festival of our own.
Hot on the heels of the chillis will be tomatoes. I will start with golden sunrise and little red pear as these will be grown in the greenhouse, so I don’t need to wait for frost free nights. The big chunky marmande and black Russian will end up outside, so these can wait till the end of March. I don’t want the plants to get too big too soon, otherwise I will be needing more bubble wrap, fellece and cloches.
My last newcomer this year is the herb chervil, which even the best stocked supermarkets seldom seem stock. According to Albert Roux, it is the key ingredient for an omelette fine herbes. Its got to be done.
For the regulars, its ups and downs. The ups are borlotti beans which I am hoping to grow up coir bean twine. Previously I have grown borlottis on dwarf plants which has been very successful but this year I thought I’d go for a few bean wigwams which always add interest to the veg plot. It’s the sweetcorn which is going down. The last couple of summers the corns have been a bit dried out, so my logic is that shorter plants might cope better with less rainfall. I have opted for the short and sturdy F1 variety early extra sweet.
Chicory is now a regular too and this year I am adding more varieties. My pallo rosa will be accompanied by catalogna and treviso, the former green and spiky the latter red and rounded. I need to wait for early summer though before sowing these and then should be rewarded with plenty of colourful bitter salad throughout the autumn.
I am also welcoming back three old favourites which have been pushed out in recent years. Crystal apple, which is the most delicious crisp cucumber. Its appearance can be a bit pasty, but its crunch is unbeatable. Yellow scaloppini, which is more picturesque and more courgette-like than the gem squash it is pushing out. And the last of my old friends is horseradish which I spent the first five years here trying to eradicate. It had spread to every corner of the garden and had dug in deep. I’ve now got over the trauma (after another 10 years!) and am ready to give it another go, but this time it will be contained in a planter sunk into the ground. With some old friends its worth taking a few risks.