About this blog

My photo
Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Soggy seeds update

This post is a mixture of things I meant to tell you before I went away, but didn't have time, and things I've done since I got back, so I hope it doesn't end up being too long.

My seeds suffered a crisis of sogginess over Christmas, so rather a lot needed planting much earlier than they would usually. Looking back, I see that what I'd actually wanted to sow at that time was onions. None of these came up. It was probably too cold for them to germinate. On the other hand, the peas and beans had already germinated, which is why I was sowing them.

The beans given to me by a friend (District Nurse, climbing) were going crazy in their seed trays:

Beans seeking giants' castles

I potted these on before going away, and they are now standing in a row in the conservatory. I even found them canes.

Beans looking slightly less crazy

A couple of these have died, but most are looking fine. I just have to keep these alive until I can plant them outside. The usual advice for these things is, After all risk of frost has passed but what does that mean? We had frost on 12th June here last year!

The peas and broad beans in the greenhouse are mostly looking happy...


Broad beans

... though I did notice that some of them are looking a little chewed. I searched for and evicted half a dozen slugs before I went away, and the same again when I got back.

The onion sets are mostly still alive

Onions. Not dead.

and the peas that I sowed directly in the ground in December seem, against all the odds, to have survived. Well, quite a lot of them, anyway. I say all the odds but I have to admit, the odds haven't been that bad really. It's been a very mild winter this year. When we did have a cold snap I covered them with bracken, as planned, and rolled it back before I went away.

Bracken protection rolled back from peas

and just in case you can't see the peas in the above picture...

Peas. Not dead.

... here they are, looking a bit yellow but there are definitely quite a few still growing there.

A couple of weeks later, and the outdoor peas are still looking convincingly not-dead:

Peas. Still not dead.

Whereas the peas and broad beans in the greenhouse were outgrowing their paper pots, so I planted them out as well...

Broad beans and peas, planted out.

I'm sure I have more peas than beans, but the beans require far more space than the peas. The white rings are egg shells, which I've been saving all winter. These are to deter slugs, though I'm not very optimistic they'll work. I also put some twiggy sticks around the peas, to give them something to hang on to when they get bigger.

Sticks for peas.

Learning my lesson from last year I chose a calm day for this operation, and all the twigs stayed pretty much where I put them.

The tomatoes that I sowed with the salad seeds are now in need of potting on. There are two varieties, Roma, which I saved from just one tomato grown last year (I did manage to harvest more than that, but only saved seeds from one) and the unknown cherry tomatoes, seeds of which are left over from the year before. I have twenty three Roma seedlings that look healthy enough to pot on - an ideal number - and I've treated them to fairly big pots.

Roma tomato seedlings

Because the other tomato seeds were old, I planted lots, expecting a poor germination rate. Of course, they all came up, though they don't look very healthy. This means that, like last year, I have more tomato seedlings than I know what to do with.

Insipid looking cherry tomato seedlings.
The gap in the seed tray is where I've taken some out to pot on.

I also have some garlic coming up.

Garlic shoots

This is very pleasing because when I tried to buy garlic in the autumn I couldn't get it anywhere, and thought I was too late. Then when I was buying seed potatoes at the end of January, I noticed that Charlie's also had garlic, so I bought some. I hope it does better than last year's attempt.

After I'd planted out the peas and beans the other day, Ian commented that it's nice to see the garden looking like somewhere that food grows, again. He's right. It is.


  1. Wow. All I've really got going properly is a few pots of garlic and a bit of mouldy old salad I planted before Christmas... And lots and lots of pots of compost with dubious looking micro weeds making it very difficult to identify the actual seedlings. Ta for following me, by the way, and hello! Sarah

  2. Hi Sarah,
    You can thank Bonnie for pointing me towards your blog, and I'm glad she did because I love it! Nice to see you here, too :-)
    The only reason I have so much stuff growing at this time of year is the crisis of the soggy seeds over Christmas. I'm sure I'm not supposed to plant things so early (apart from tomatoes), and I'm not at all sure I'll get away with it. On the other hand, if I do, I'll try it this way again next year (and then we'll have a really hard winter that'll kill the lot!)


I don't know why Facebook thinks this is the most interesting text on the page - it's not, I assure you!

If you'd like to leave a comment, but it asks you to "Comment as" a load of options that don't relate to you, choose "Name/URL". You can type in your name and leave the URL blank.

Do leave a comment (unless the main point of your comment is to advertise your business, in which case it will be deleted). It's always nice to know I'm not talking to myself ;-)