Yesterday I managed to persuade my husband to come with me to the garden centre to buy some seeds for this year. He hates going because there is a large display area of swings and climbing frames, and our son knows about it!
I promised we wouldn't be long, and we weren't, although the boy did run off after I'd paid (to find said play area) and had to be soundly told off once he realised we weren't with him and came back to find us.
Anyway, I digress. I bought some 1st early potatoes and leek, calabrese, and sweet pepper seeds.
I always do loads of research into the variety I want that will suit my small plot. I usually go for an F1 hybrid (because they are proven to be reliable) that is high-yielding, compact, and with a long-season. I then turn up with my long list of varieties only to find none are available so I have to choose on the hop!
The potatoes I bought are called Rocket, and according to the packet are eelworm resistant (which has to be a good thing!) and high-yielding, and are good for just about every type of preparation (ie, boil, roast, mash, etc). They are also one of the earliest to mature, so should be ready to lift in June ready for my sweetcorn and courgettes to go in. Looks like a good choice :) They are currently chitting (sitting waiting to sprout) in an old egg box on a sunny windowsill. I will plant them in February.
I picked a variety of leek called Oarsman F1 hybrid, which are quick to bulk up and stand well (means I can leave them in the ground when they are ready until I need them). I chose a calabrese (aka traditional broccoli!) called Belstar F1, a well-flavoured variety that produces one large central head and then goes on to produce smaller sideshoots. And I got a free packet of summer-sprouting broccoli, which are quick to crop and have a long season. Perfect!
My son chose the sweet peppers for me, I wanted an orange variety called Gourmet that apparently crop well but he wanted the 'traffic-light colours' variety (Mini Bell Mixed). They look OK though, huge crops of small peppers, long-growing season, and can be grown outside (I don't have a greenhouse), they sound like a good choice. And I hope they interest my son enough to eat them since he chose them!
I unlocked my seed store from last year once I got home to check all was well and to see what I had left. No seed had gone off and all are OK for this year (and most until 2011). Here's a quick list; I plan to sow at least a row or couple of plants of each variety.
Broad bean (Aquadulce Claudia) - two rows already in; I might sow another row soon.
Pea (Kelvedon Wonder and Sugar Ann) - poor pea crop last year, will try a sugar snap variety this year
French climbing beans (seeds saved from last year's crop)
Cauliflower (Avalanche F1) - Successfully cropped one head last year before the caterpillars chewed the plants!
Brussels Sprouts (Bosworth F1)
Cabbage (Durham Early) - already one row in for Spring greens. Didn't heart last year but they were tasty!
Calabrese and sprouting broccoli (as above)
Beetroot (Chioggia Pink and Boltardy) - Had some success with these last year but need to keep up with the watering because a lot went woody.
Carrot (Nigel F1 and Early Nantes) - two rows have been overwintering for Spring.
Swede (yet to buy)
Garlic and onions in already
Leeks (in from last year, and as above)
Spring onions (possibly, around other plants when space arises)
Courgettes (Venus, similar spineless variety, or free Dig In seeds!)
Butternut squash (Hunter)
Salad and other
Baby leaf salad and lollo rosso (freebies from Central Beds council and Dig In!) - two rows in, ready for picking now
Tomatoes (Gardener's Delight and Outdoor Girl or similar) - will sow Gardener's Delight to try growing from seed and will buy plants of another variety
Sweetcorn (Conqueror F1) - I might buy new seed nearer sowing time. I had poor results last year.
Radish (French breakfast), chilli peppers, Swiss chard (Bright Lights) - not yet sure whether to bother with these, we didn't eat what we grew last year :(
Looking forward to Spring so much now!
My husband just pointed out his weather app on his iPhone reckons it is currently SNOWING where we are (!?) so my weekend planting and prep plans might have to go on hold for a few more weeks.