Shallots, (no) aubergines, and a clean greenhouse
Hello to you all, and I hope you’ve been having a good week. This is the last newsletter of February, can you believe – this time next week I shall be neck deep in seed trays and compost and it’ll really start to feel like we’ve started gardening properly again!
A big welcome to all new subscribers this week – it is lovely to have you here! I hope you enjoy becoming part of our little community – we’re all sowing and growing our way through the gardening year side by side, raising veg, fruit, salads, herbs and just about anything else that’s edible, using lovely gentle sustainable techniques which benefit your plants and the planet.
Do consider becoming a paid subscriber: you’ll then have access to the growing number of subscriber-only features on Greenery, so far including masterclass videos, seasonal recipes and ‘five of the best’ reviews giving you the lowdown on veg varieties, gardening products and techniques.
There’s also our focussed growalong, Totally Tomatoes (you’ll find the tag at the top of the home page), in which we take a deep dive into absolutely everything to do with tomato growing, with lots of comparison trials and experiments to see if we can solve a few tomato conundrums, from training techniques to feeding regimes. We’ve already found out tomatoes grown on windowsills inside a house germinate at more or less the same speed as those in a propagator: so stick around, and subscribe, for news of our next discovery!
I am planning a new subscriber-only strand for next month, too, which I hope you’ll enjoy – more next week, so sign up for a paid subscription now so you don’t miss out!
For now my tomatoes are still at the seedling leaf stage and I am checking them daily. There’s no need to do more for the moment: just keep them warm, and give them a drop of water whenever the surface of the compost starts to dry out, and they can get on with the business of growing a little larger.
The onions are developing nicely under their grow lights and are now putting out their third leaves and starting to thicken up a bit. Next week I think I will move them on to larger pots – it’s really important at this stage that they have no checks and keep growing steadily until the weather has warmed up enough for them to go outdoors.
Other things popping up above the compost include chillies, sweet peppers and French marigolds. No sign yet of the aubergines (eggplants, if you’re the other side of the big pond) which is frustrating – I will try resowing from a different pack of seeds and see if I get better results second time around. Was there ever a more grumpy vegetable: I struggle to get them going most years. It just doesn’t enjoy growing here much, I think. I ought to stop trying, but I really like aubergines.
And the garlic is now well settled into the greenhouse border: I have cleaned the greenhouse in its honour, a job often advised for autumn but actually much better done at this time of year since the greenhouse is largely empty and things are still fairly quiet in the garden.
Use hot water (to keep you and your hands comfortable if it’s a cold day rather than for better cleaning) with a squirt of eco-friendly washing up liquid and give everything a good scrub inside and out, using a squeegee mop for the ceiling/roof. Then rinse it clean by sluicing it with more water from the water butt. It makes all the difference in the world to the light levels inside.
The veg beds are starting to fill. I got some nice big, fat Longor shallots at the Potato Day last weekend and they can go in right now, 15-20cm apart. Shallots need a really long growing season to produce the biggest and best ‘hands’ of bulbs by August so I always try to get them planted in February.
Meanwhile I have the spring broad beans to sow – Bunyards Exhibition this year – which should follow on nicely from my overwintering crop (still, as I mentioned last week, flowering despite temperatures returning to normal February chilliness). The potatoes are chitting nicely, too. Not long now…
Let me know what you’ve been sowing and how it’s doing. This week I’ll be coppicing hazel to make beanpoles and giving you the lowdown on the best sustainable plant labels – hope you can join me!
Greenery would not exist without your support - so please consider upgrading to a paid subscriber if you can. Thank you!