Have you got all your seeds ready for the year ahead?  How about a planting plan?

I really look forward to getting the vegetable seed catalogues.  Even the words sound Edwardian and conjure in me thoughts of brown packets, compost and gardeners twine.  I get the impression that other gardeners pore over their catalogues for days or weeks, dreaming of the possibilities contained in each seed.  I don’t spend long on them myself – I’m done in barely an hour, but it is a wonderful hour nevertheless. 

We get most of our seeds from the Heritage Seed Library (Garden Organic) and Chilterns Seeds because of their interesting varieties they offer.  We don’t buy seedlings from the garden centre, not least because of the heartache of seeing them eaten overnight.  I don’t do slug pellets – another waste of money, I think – and seeds are cheaper to replant. 

If you don’t already have a plan, I can highly recommending drawing one each year.  Mine consists of a diagram of the vegetable garden with numbered dots and lines showing where everything is planted, and a corresponding numbered list of the varieties.  Last year the list had 27 different types.   I fill in the plan as I plant each one and tick what worked afterwards.  The previous years’ plans are what I refer to when ordering seeds in winter. 

First we decide what kinds of vegetables we’ll grow, based on taste and experience.  Varieties that worked before get re-ordered, then we fill the gaps with new things that appeal to us.  For example this year I’ve decided to give up on carrots and grow golden beetroot as a substitute – the carrot fly can go live somewhere else.  I found that the fennel seed didn’t germinate very well when it was two years old, so I’ll be buying that every year from now on. This year’s new vegetables include salsify, celeriac and sweetcorn.

I also save seed, mostly the easy stuff.  Our favourite five varieties of climbing bean and mangetout all grow from saved seed now.  Once dried, I keep them in the fridge in old spice jars.  Last year we discovered an excellent heritage tomato called Black Russian, so I saved some of that seed as an experiment and we’ll see how well it germinates.  I bought some as well though, as a backup!   

Text and Images (C) Claire @theslowfix A slow food devotee, Claire is constantly searching for new ways to enable us all to live sustainably.

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