Sunday, 16 January 2011

I Will Turn The Soil With My Hands & I Will Make My Home There

There's a song that's been going around in my head (and for a change it's not Amanda Palmers Ampersand) for days now. An odd little song about leaving the world behind & making an island garden. So maybe the long, miserable winter is losing it's grip on North Lincolnshire, and this little fox's thought turn to the garden.

The last week has been spent digging. The soil is still heavy & wet, but I've been forking spent hops (one of the benefits of working in a brewery - spent hops are an excellent addition to soil in the garden, working along the same lines of a green manure, they add organic matter & improve drainage, especially useful if you're soil is on the heavy side) into the raised beds, pulling up the inevitable weeds (that didn't seem at all bothered by the month of snow & ice) & raking it all down to a nice tilth. The potato beds still need going over, and the allotment doesn't bear thinking about.
The little Polytunnel has been cleaned out (and sad wobbly-lower-lip moments were had over the Alstromerias & Geraniums that haven't made it through the winter) & dug over. There's still Pak Choi & Salad leaves growing merrily away in there (of all the things to survive the winter, it would be salad), and shallots & garlic cloves in modules of compost, which will get planted out in the spring.
MikeyFox stopped playing Red Dead Redemption long enough to build a couple of compost bins over the weekend, which are in place & ready to be filled. After what feels like forever, the garden is actually starting to look like a garden, rather than a heap of rubble & nettles.

Being a bit more organised this year, I've got all my seeds ordered, and packed into a big wooden box (I remember when my years supply of seeds fitted into an old boiled sweets tin. Then a pretty green wooden box decorated with flowers. Then a shoebox. Now they all just squeeze into a wooden medical case. By the end of the year, there will only be a few packets of salad & half open beetroot seeds floating around in there. Funny how all this started out with a weekend in London, and a market stall selling yellow courgettes.

So here's my annual round-up of Places To Get Seeds From.

The Real Seed Catalogue: Still the bestest place to get seeds from. They have a wonderful range of non-hybrid seeds, as well as advice on seed saving & Mad Science (AKA breeding your own varieties). The seeds are excellent quality, with a pretty much 100% germination rate & a consistently good flavour too. Go & buy something from them, you won't regret it.

Nicky's Nursury: I've been buying seeds from these people for almost 10 years now, and they have never let me down. Whether you're after peculiar stuff for traditional Mexican cooking or just a pack of runner bean seeds, they're excellent quality, well packaged (each pack comes with a plant label! Eeee!) and nigh on 100% germination rate. They also have a beautiful range of wildflower & herbs seeds too.

Plants of Distinction: Good quality seeds & interesting & heirloom varieties. If you love growing familiar veg in unusual colours, this is the place to go. They also a have a good selection of podding beans (dwarf or climbing beans where the seeds are harvested rather than the green beans). The Yin Yang dwarf beans are especially good, and this year I'm trying the Jacobs Cattle Gold.

Sea Spring Seeds: A little company that specialises in Chilli & Pepper seeds, though they also have a range of vegetable seeds. Now that I have a polytunnel and Nothing Can Stop Me*, 2011 will be the Year Of Chillis. It was inevitable, really.

And, of course, garden centers!


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