more early January activity

Sunday, 6 January 2008

The onion seed are now sown. Two seed tray each with two 24-module inserts equals 96 onions if they all germinate! Enough to keep the Alexander kitchen supplied from October!

I have also sown in loo-rolls a few early cabbage. I had a disaster last summer with my spring greens. The effing cabbage white decimated my seedlings of Early Offenham before they could be transplanted. So I am trying a Dobie variety called Frostie, which should have been sown in the autumn, but I hope will catch up by being brought on in gentle heat in the greenhouse. I also planted a few Hispi summer cabbage. They’re fast maturing and very reliable.

I am trying an experiment with some of my chilli plants this year. I still have sitting on the propagator at 18 degrees centigrade a plant each of a fantastic hot chilli I found in the Masai Mara a couple of years ago, a very long Turkish mild chilli and a yellow Hungarian wax paprika type. The Kenyan chilli is continuing to crop well despite having temperatures a couple of times at or near freezing when I forgot to put on the heater! The other two have fruit which may yet ripen, but my plan is to cut them back in about a month’s time and see if I can get them to crop for a second year. They’ll need potting up and lots of feed, but as most capsicum are perennial it should work if I can keep them growing and botrytis free. Right now though it’s very nice to be picking fresh chillies in January!

My asparagus bed has been a disappointment in the last few years with the crop becoming thinner and weaker. I saw somewhere that asparagus likes slightly alkaline soil. As I have only been ladling shit on the bed for years I gave it a good dose of lime. I’m also going to sprinkle a little rock-salt on the bed for good measure. Watch this space. It’s kill or cure time!

Despite the inclement weather lately the allotment is yielding a good crop of rocket to go with the winter radish, radicchio and celery that makes such a tasty winter salad. My parsnips are large but very mis-shapen and I don’t really understand why this has happened as the ground they are in hasn’t been manured for three years! I do have problems with canker too and need to devise a means to deal with this. The celeriac crop is good as are my winter carrots, although I am finding more and more signs of carrot fly damage. Again this is mysterious as I protect the crop religiously with fleece and all year they have been damage-free. Anyway, it doesn’t stop them tasting fab. My early Romanesco is starting to come fit too. I had a second head for supper last night and of course there is still a goodly supply of January King and red cabbage as well as leeks to sustain us through these bleak days.

Next weekend will be quieter. Just some tidying up to do. It’s still a bit too soon to start tomatoes and capsicum in my view. Wait another week or so.

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