Archive for Seeds

Growing our runner beans and an update on the veggie garden

We don’t have a greenhouse yet and we do suffer from slugs and snails here as we have had such a wet Winter, so I start off our runner beans indoors in the inside of loo roll tubes.

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We end up with seeds growing on all the window ledges in the house.

After a couple of weeks they have started to sprout.

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And when they are 8 to 12 inches tall I put them outside.  By putting the whole tube into the ground it gives the beans  some protection against the slugs and snails, and gives them a fighting chance.

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I tie each little bean plant up to its bean cane so it doesn’t get blown around in the wind.  This year as part of our “no dig” experiment we have laid newspapers down around the bean poles to deter the weeds.

After 10 days or so they are already climbing the bean poles, so a success.  Just need to wait another month now before they produce some lovely beans for us.

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Our other veggies are growing well too.  Here are our peas climbing up their pea sticks.

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And our cabbages growing in their shrouds to protect them from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies.

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This year we spread grass clippings around the potatoes and onions as mulch and again to deter the weeds.

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The sweet corn are still small, they need some more sunshine to boost their growth.

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We shall have a bumper crop of strawberries this year

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And the gooseberries are already forming on the bushes

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We are also growing lettuce, tomatoes, courgettes, radish, chard, parsnips, carrots, turnips and purple sprouting broccoli so we should have lots of lovely veggies if everything grows OK.

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Moor Lane Plant Sale

On Saturday it was the Moor Lane Plant Sale in Churchinford.  This is an annual event, eagerly awaited by budding gardeners as an opportunity to pick up a bargain plant or two.  We were there as part of the Blackdown Hills Transition Group stand, where we were offering packets of seeds for a donation and encouraging youngsters to “sow a seed and watch it grow” with some compost in a yoghurt pot.

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Neil made a small frame as an example of “no dig” gardening, with plants coming up through cardboard to keep down the weeds.

The plant sales were very popular, and no sales were allowed before the bell was rung at 10.30am.

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There were some great signs outside too:

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I bought some courgette plants that I got into the ground the same day, and a couple of nice tomatoe plants that I have potted up already.

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Seed swap days

We have been to 2 “Seed swap days” in the last week.  Last Sunday was a big “Seedy Sunday” held at Stentwood Farm near Dunkerswell.  Stentwood Farm is run by a community who have a bakery called “The Common Loaf”.  They make artisan bread and sell it at farmer’s markets in the area.  Anyway they have a farm with lots of parking and a tea room, so were ideally suited to hosting the Seedy Sunday.  People bring along unwanted seeds, or seeds they have collected from their plants, in little envelopes, and these are then swapped for other seeds.

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I collected Budleia seeds and also enveloped up some runner bean seeds we had collected from last year’s harvest.

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It was an all day long event and people could donate some money if they didn’t have any seeds to swap.

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After sorting out some seeds people could go downstairs to the tea rooms to have a cuppa.

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Although it was a bitterly cold day there was a good turnout. The event was organised by the Blackdown Hills Transition Group.

Today the Honiton Transition Group had a seed stand at a community Fayre in the town, so we went along to that too.  We were a bit late and didn’t manage to get many seeds, but it will be interesting to grow a few new varieties this year and see what comes up.

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STOP PRESS:  we still have availability at the B&B for Easter Sunday 31st March and Bank Holiday Monday 1st April

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Taking down the runner beans

Over the weekend we had a couple of clear days so decided it was time to take down the runner bean plants.  The leaves had started dying back and there were no more viable beans to pick, so we started to untie the bean poles and pull up all the plants and add them to the compost heap.

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I managed to pick a whole trug full of big beans that we will dry out for their bean seeds, which can then be planted next year.

Beans that will dry off for seeds

I also picked our sweetcorn, that hadn’t really riped well enough this year, just not enough sunshine.  I shall cook this up for the chickens, they will enjoy it.

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Having pulled up all the runner bean and sweetcorn plants we then had to weed the 2 vegetable beds that had contained them.  The soil was wet and claggy so not a nice job, but we got it done.  We then added horse poo to the beds, raked that in, covered them with newspaper and then black weed suppressant sheet, so they are bedded down for the winter.

over wintering vegetable beds

The beans we had picked were too tough to eat so they are drying in front of the woodburner so we can harvest the seeds.

Beans drying

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Invasion of the fluffy white seeds

For the past 2 days, fluffy white seeds have been blown in the wind all over the place.  They blew in through the bathroom window, they have covered the grass and the flowers, they even got in Tarquin the cat’s fur.  We thought it was Dandelion fluff, but there was just so much of it that by the side of the  back drive it looked like a snow drift.

fluffy white seed “snow drift”

This afternoon a local woodman came to visit and he told us the seeds were from the Willow tree, known locally here as “Withy”, so not dandelion at all.  The seeds just stuck to everything, they got it your hair and clothes and all over the seedtrays I spent the day sowing. 

 If you want to see our summer snow, visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk   This white fluff is everywhere, it feels like we have been invaded.  Probably because we have so many withy or willow trees in our woods!!

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Sowing peas and beans

In spite of the unseasonably cold weather we have been dodging the rain and working out in the veggie patch.  Last week I sowed peas into one half of one of our vegetable beds.  As peas are susceptible to being attacked by mice and rabbits, Neil made a mesh frame to sit on top of the raised bed to protect the emerging seedlings from being munched.

mesh frame to protect seedlings

In the next bed we dug in plenty of rotting horse manure to make a good compost for our beans.  We then put up our bean poles into 3 lines and I sowed runner beans and climbing french beans, 2 to each pole.  It was quite a sturdy structure by the time we had finished, as we do get the winds up here on the hill.

Bean canes

 We have already started picking our asparagus, just 4 spears so far, so not enough for a meal yet, but slowly slowly.  This is our first year that we have been able to harvest any aspargus, so I am quite excited about it.  The rhubarb is going great guns, and we are still eating purple sprouting broccoli.  I love eating straight from the garden, so fresh and so full of vitamins!!

 visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk – still some vacancies for May and June this year!!

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Beat the weather gardening, or sowing seeds indoors when its raining outside and you don’t have a greenhouse!!

Like most of the UK we have been experiencing a lot of rain in the past 2 weeks.  In fact we have had 2 inches of rain in the last couple of days, as well as hail.  Down by the hens it is just mud, it is so wet.  The hens don’t seem to mind too much, they still spuddle around in the puddles and even drink from them.  They do look a bit bedraggled but are still producing eggs,  – we got 13 eggs from 14 hens today, so not too bad.However, for us humans day time rain, although needed as many parts of the UK have drought conditions and hose pipe bans, is just a nuisance as it stops us from getting on with the outdoor work that we want to do.  Unfortunately I don’t have a green house yet, so getting seeds started means either sowing direct into the ground, and it is just too cold at the moment, or sewing indoors.

For ages now we have been collecting the cardboard inners of toilet rolls or kitchen rolls.  The toilet roll inners are just the right size for me to start off seeds in, but the kitchen roll inners I have to cut into 2, hence they are different heights.  I find an old roasting dish and fill each  cardboard tube with compost and then sow one seed into each tube, and put a little more compost on top.  In this way I have sowed Courgette, Sweet Corn, Squash (Petty Pan) and Runner Bean seeds.  The runner beans I put 2 seeds into each tube.  Then I water them.  So here they are:

My seeds in cardboard tubes

Then I moved them onto our south facing window sill in the dining room. You can even see our wedding photo on the window sill, which we still keep there, although we have been married for coming up 18 years now!!

Seeds on the window sill

The beauty of  this method is that without a greenhouse I can still bring on seeds indoors.  When they have germinated and sprouted and the weather is a bit warmer, I will plant the cardboard tubes into the ground, thus not disturbing the roots, and then the plants will grow on from there. So all in all a good afternoon’s work, and all tidied up before our B&B guests get back here. visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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