Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Beware the Ides of March. Also, The Snow

It's March. Month of Mad Hares, Ides to beware of and attributes akin to lions & lambs. It's also the month to start sowing seeds (even if the weather is ludicrously changeable*).
If you're an overly compulsive seed purchaser, you'll have been drooling over seed catalogues since November (ahem. No, no, I didn't draw out a to scale diagram of my garden in October. And I'm pretty sure I didn't use different coloured pens for the root veg & greens. Not me.), though now the snow has melted, and daylight can actually be seen when going out to work**, thoughts turn to what to do with the garden.

So hurrah for seed catalogues! Even if you've got a patch of land the size of a postage stamp, you can look at a seed catalogue (or website - hey, I'm not a luddite or anything!) and have yourself some happy little daydreams where you have so much land that you could buy spuds by the 5 kilo sack (instead of the 5 tuber bag), and possibly grow enough peas to actually cook with, rather than just scarf them straight out of the pod while pottering about the garden.

So here's a list of my favourite places to get seed from (One day I will start saving my own seed)

The Real Seed Catalogue is the bestest seed supplier out there. A private collection of rare & heirloom seeds, all suited to growing in the UK, all non-hybrid (no ripening-all-at-once F1 seeds here), all open pollinated (so you can save the seeds for next year). Plus they have a wealth of strange & interesting seeds & tubers alongside the usual suspects (got to love a seed catalogue with an 'Unusual Tubers' category!). They also give instructions on saving your own seed & offer advice for beginners. Also, their seeds are awesome! If you're growing tomatoes or peppers from seed & don't have a heated propagator (or have had no luck with germinating them in the past), this is the place to go to.

The Organic Gardening Catalogue is another favourite. An excellent source for environmentally friendly & organic flower, herb & vegetable seeds, sets, tubers, soft fruits, mushrooms & fruit trees as well as organic feeds (the Chase seaweed extract is very good) & environmentally friendly pest control. It's not as adorable as Real Seed,*** but it has more stuff.

Mr Fothergills is mainly here because of their Vegetable Explorer range, a surprising variety of unusual vegetables, from the Rattail Radish (From Mars) to the Japanese Saltwort. They've been around for a long time, and the seed is good quality, so it's worth having a look at if you fancy trying to grow something completely different.

Suttons have a wide range of things on offer, and a really good selection of Speedy Seeds (baby veg & salads that are ready to harvest from 3 to 8 weeks). They also have a range of seeds from Cornwall's Eden Project which are very pretty (stripy tomatoes! Black & White beans! Woo!)

*It may have been blazing sunshine at 7am, but it will probably be snowing by midday. By teatime the moon will have been devoured by a wolf, and the rivers will run purple with ribena. And the gardeners will shrug their shoulders and say 'Tch. typical March, innit?'
Right. I'm off to watch Heston Blumenthal to do something revolting-but-probably-delicious.

**After a long winter of leave-for-work-in-darkness, return-home-in-darkness, occasionally-think-you're-in-a-Ray-Bradbury-novel

***Situated in the Socialist republic of Wales

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