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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Spring sowing take 2

Today's post is mostly my own personal diary entry on what I've sown during this waxing moon phase. So if you're not really into gardening, stop reading now. I don't want to bore you.

This week marked the second big sowing phase for this spring, as my neighbour Antonio helpfully pointed out last week. You just walk around the village innocently, when you are approached by your neighbours, telling you what to sow and when.

Anyway, the weather forecast predicted the Scirocco wind to start up again the tail end of this week, so we were quite keen to get the sowing finished before then. The Scirocco brings warm and moist air our way, so ideal for freshly sown seeds (indeed during the night there has been some rain and it looks like more in the air).

So to start off with I needed to make some room in the cold frame. As usual I sowed out far too many lettuce seeds and they were growing fast. Now I can't stand simply thining them out and discarding the extras. So I started transplanting some. I counted 57 plants so far which have gone partially amongst the leeks and onions on terrace 6 and partially on an empty bed by the Rennet apple tree on Terrace 10 (the locations are mainly as a reminder to myself, so you can skip over those).

The other thing that was screaming to be transplanted were the lentils. They had started to hit the ceiling of the cold frame. There were some 17 plants which had already developed an amazing root system:

I'm not sure if they need any support, but I gave them a bit of bamboo each, just in case and interplanted them with a few more lettuces.

Now for the sowing. In the cold frame I sowed the following:
  • 2 types of tomato kindly supplied to me by Beck of http://greenspain.blogspot.com/: kumato, a brown tomato, which matures from the inside out and can therefore be eaten when still green on the outside and Campari a slightly larger cherry tom. Incidentally, my cold frame proved so effective, that during one of the sunny days last week my main tomato variety, marmande, simply frizzled and burned. So I'm glad to have some backup.
  • 2 types of cucumber: Verde China and Market More
  • 3 types of squash, 1 summer and 2 winter: Now, apart from courgettes, I've never really grown squashes and have rarely even eaten them. The varieties I went for were a pattypan squash called sunburst (mostly because it looked pretty on the picture of the seed packet, although I have no idea what it's going to be like or even how to cook it), a kind of butternut squash called violina lunga and an actual Halloween type pumpkin called Big Max. What possesed me to go for the latter I have no idea. I don't even particularly like pumpkin ever since I was introduced to sweet pumkin pies one Halloween I had the misfortune to spend in America back in 1979. And this fellow is said to produce 45kg fruit if you let it. How on earth am I going to stagger up our terraces with a pumpkin that size and how are we going to manage to eat it all!?! Well to solve the space problem that comes with these ginormous plants I have been gathering old car tyres and the like to place in little niches to small to dig a whole bed. So I'll just fill them up some compost and let them get on with it out of the way of other veg, just competing with their surrounding olive trees.
  • Another chilli calledPiccante a Mazzetti, an Italian varietal growing upright in little bunches.
  • more basil. You can never have enough!
  • another lettuce called Romana verde
Outside I've sown the following:
  • dwarf nasturtium amongst my brassica (T9)
  • wild rocket (rear bed T2)
  • Leaf chicory Catalogna Gigante di Chioggia (rear bed T2)
  • 2 types of chard: Coste verde a costa bianco and bionda a costa argentata (T10 rear)
  • flat leafed parsley (T10 amongst chard and onions)
  • Endive Romaesco (T10 front amongst lettuce)
  • and finally sweet corn mixed from saved seeds (T 13).
Then disaster struck. Just as I was going to untangle our long hoses for the first time this year to give the sweetcorn a good watering, I discovered that they had suffered badly during the winter and snapped in various places. Now our water source is on terrace number 5 (counting from the top, where the road access is). What remains of our hoses reaches Terrace 10 at a stretch, and the thirsty sweetcorn is on terrace 13. So yours truly had to run up and down the terraces (have I mentioned how steep they are?) with a watering can. So as a matter of priority, we need to invest in some new hoses, before the summer starts properly.

So for those who have read this far and haven't fallen asleep yet, here a pretty pic of some coltsfoot. Makes a good cure for coughs apparently. I'd gather some if ever I'd egt a cough.


Jan said...

Terrace 13.....!!!! Good grief, that certainly is some way to go from top to bottom. I get worn out just going down and up 5 terraces to our veggies.

Beck Middleton said...

I know just what you mean about not wanting to discard thinned out seedlings, just seems like a waste.

Mr. H. said...

I'm with Jan, Terrace #13? Wow, you do get your excercise don't you. It's really too bad about the hoses.

I can't wait to see how big Max becomes, I hope you have a strong back. Those lentils are neat, I really must try growing them sometime and am looking forward to seeing how yours fare. Make sure you keep them well watered...bad joke, I'm sorry heiko.:)

That colts foot is pretty, I have never heard of it before. The flower heads look like dandelions.

Happy gardening!

Stefaneener said...

I love the idea of neighbors just telling you to get on with the planting. That doesn't happen here, by the way. I don't love pumpkin pie, but I'll eat it. What's wrong with Halloween here, by the way, buddy? Huh?

Heiko said...

In fact I think I may have mis-counted, it's Terrace 14, because below that is terrace 15, which will host a miscellaneous selection (everything I couldn't find space for elsewhere, Terrace 16 had potatoes (not much watering to do there thankfully) and terrace 16 and 17 are currently empty with just a few plum trees scattered on them, a fig tree and a bamboo wilderness.

The coltsfoot has thicker, fleshier stems and don't seem to have any leaves when in flower. The leaves appear later and are horseshoe shaped. If you break the flower stem there's a distinct herbal smell coming off them.

Well Halloween... It seems just another big business money spinning idea, like Valentine's Day. Maybe I just had a bad experience, but wandering through a dark garage being 'scared' by 'monsters' isn't my idea of fun.

Heiko said...

Sorry 17 and 18 have the trees not 16 and 17 of course...

HamishWM said...

Sounds like you will have an abundance of veg this year....if the weather and nature is kind.
Good luck.

chaiselongue said...

Sad to hear about the Marmande tomato plants - your cold frame just became a hot frame, then! The planting sounds good, although like some other commenters I can't imagine how you manage all those terraces.

I agree about Halloween - just a commercial thing which is even taking over here in France now, but pumpkins are wonderful, not in sweet pie, I haven't had that (it sounds horrible), but try them cut in chunks and roasted with garlic, olive oil and rosemary, and lots of ground black pepper.

Ruralrose said...

This is what we live for, n'est pas? The hunger we experience makes us drool for what we can plant in the spring. Nature at it's finest. I did not know what coltsfoot looked like, now I do. Looks like meals at your house will be awesome. Peace

Kelly said...

I almost ordered the violin squash you sowed, I hope you will enjoy it- it was represented as being quite tasty in the catalog I was ordering from. Good for risotto and things that you do enjoy. No squash/pupkin pies for you all huh? One of my favorite things is anything with pumpkin in it. How about pumpkin/squash bread? Nutritious and delicious!!

That tomato sounds amazing, I have never heard of such a thing, maturing (and changing color) from the inside out, have fun with that one Heiko.

Heiko said...

CL, the roasted variety sounds good to me. I've had pumpkin soup, which I quite liked, but Kelly that pumkin bread sounds different. How is that done? Must google that one.

Yes Rose, this year I'll be doing a lot of experimenting with veg that I not only haven't grown before, but some of them not even eaten before!