Mini caulis, red cabbage and five-year-old broccoli
Hello again! Have you had a good week? I do hope so. I am at that point of dissonance: the mismatch between the spangle of spring flowers scattering heart-lifting flecks of colour across banks and borders everywhere you look, and the frankly bleak weather of very early spring. Rumour has it there will be snow again this week. I have early seedlings to look after, and I need warmth and light: but both are, for now at least, in short supply.
A big welcome to everyone who’s joined the Greenery community this week, and particularly to those of you who have upgraded to a paid subscription: I am hugely grateful to every one of you as it means I’m able to put aside time to make Greenery happen.
A paid subscription costs considerably less than the price of a monthly magazine – and that’s what I’m trying to create here (with a few added bells and whistles!). The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed I have switched Greenery to magazine view this week – it seemed the right time, as there’s now a pretty hefty back catalogue of posts and it makes it much easier for you to see the stuff you’re interested in.
There’s now a growing line of extra tags along the top too – you’ll find our seasonal growalong, Totally Tomatoes, plus all the seasonal recipes collected in one place and the ‘Five of the Best’ reviews too.
This month I am launching another strand, inspired by my visit to the Garden Press Event a few weeks ago. We all like a little gardening retail therapy: but it’s hard to know what to buy when you’re trying to be kind to the planet. As I found at the GPE, it takes quite a lot of shrewd questioning to figure out how green the product you’re looking at really is.
So this week, by way of an introduction, I’ll be giving you the lowdown on how to shop sustainably for the garden. Then I’ll start adding to this section with reviews of properly green products and launches – along with a subscriber-only products directory which I hope will develop into a really comprehensive shopper’s guide for green gardeners. As always - all tips, suggestions and contributions very welcome!
I do realise that much of this will be relevant only to UK subscribers: but I hope that the wider points I’ll be making about the principles to follow when shopping sustainably will still be useful to everyone, wherever in the world you may garden!
So what’s happening in the garden?
It is March! I am trying to keep the brakes on and not sow absolutely everything until the cold snap has passed - but I can’t quite resist putting a few more seeds into compost. I now have a new spring batch of broad beans sown into loo rolls, to join the overwintered Aquadulce in the garden once they’re around 15cm (6”) tall; they’re Bunyards Exhibition which is a great super-reliable Victorian variety that always does well.
I’ve also sowed the summer brassicas - super tough and totally able to cope with a spot of cold weather, even as seedlings. I’m keeping them warm-ish till they germinate, then they will come out straight away into the cool greenhouse: it doesn’t do to keep brassicas too warm for too long as they get leggy very quickly.
Also on their way are two types of cauliflower (Romanescu and the miniature-headed Igloo), red cabbage, calabrese and the one I’m really excited about - a batch of perennial Nine Star broccoli. This is a sprouting broccoli which lasts for up to five whole years, producing plentiful, steady and delicious harvests of white, broccoli-like sprigs.
The onions have now made their third seedlings leaves and I’ve moved them up into 10cm (4”) pots: I’ve also evicted them from the grow lights and sent them off out into the greenhouse. Natural day length is now around 11 hours so grow lights are less necessary now – though light levels are still a bit low, so fingers crossed.
That’s not to say the grow lights are switched off. All the chillies, plus some of the tomatoes are basking under there for around 10 hours a day, and responding really well, too.
Those tomato seedlings which were first up now have their second pairs of leaves, so we’ll be potting on soon: the experiments we’ve been doing to test out different ways of germinating the seeds are nearly at an end. Full update on the Totally Tomatoes growalong , with results for our early trials, in a couple of days’ time!
Do remember to look down this week and get toe-to-toe with the spring flowers, diminutive and shy little things and best appreciated close up. They are here so fleetingly, and are so exquisite – so drink in their beauty while you can.
Have a great week – let us all know what you’re up to in the garden and how you’re getting on!
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New to this sub, and happy to be here. Like you, I have to resist the urge to start planting outdoors. Nature has a way of slowing us down, doesn't it? I'm quite new to garden (this is my second season) but I am enjoying the trial and error of using soil blocks for the first time.