Monday, 27 February 2012

Feed the blackcurrants-and they will feed you!

People, you get nothin for nothin! you must feed those fruit bushes if you expect to be eating jam for the rest of the year.


Chicken pellets
Iron rod
weeding gloves

take one overgrown blackcurrant bush

clear of weeds and crap
poke holes around the bush with a metal pole
fill holes with chicken manure-job done!!
While you are at it please feed you other fruit too. Gooseberries the same at the blackcurrants, seaweed for fruit trees and well rotted FYM for strawberries and cane fruit.

one bad onion

Lads its time to get the onion sets out and prepare for sowing, before you do, dont forget to go through the bag of onion sets and take out any soft, or mouldy bad ones. Here it is in three easy steps;

By the way in one 500g bag of sets I counted 110 good and 25 bad. Just to give you an idea of how many you buy and how many you might need, or have space for when you factor in the percentage that will be duds.

Step 1; put the best ones aside
Step 2; find the baddies                
Step 3; keep the good ones, dump the bad ones-simples!!!

No so fast sweetpea

I haven't sown any sweet peas yet. And I have a lot to sow, so why I'm so reluctant is down to thinking about colour combinations too much. Trying to decide who goes with who on which particular wigwam, all the more complicated now that I have a new area to add more sweet peas to out the back.

sweet pea seeds laid out according to colour partners
A few years ago I got a gift of a very nice book(a very fat big book) about choosing the best companion for plants. This is not done in a horticulture "companion planting" type way, its not about who can benefit whom, or repelling bad insects. This is all about colour, texture and form, in other words; its all about appearances. According to this book sweet peas belong with a particular clematis called Kermesina. I was a bit disappointed not to find more suggestions of other climbers I could grow with them but instead I am attempting to colour co-ordinate sweet peas with each other, and maybe one of these Kermesina, or an odd rose, to get a big sunny splash of colour especially out the back in the new tropical beds.

clematis Kermesina-plant it high to appreciate the flowers  

I know you shouldnt be a slave to the "rules" the RHS or others lay down. Fashions are constantly changing in gardening, plants in one year are out the next and no matter what you plant, or how fabulous you think it looks someone else will think its awful! So please yourselves people, and dont let anyone dissuade you from your crazy gardening combinations if they make you happy. Free from the rigours of my RHS book,I can just look forward to crazy experimentation and see how it works!

Not a book you can slip into your back pocket but a great winter read

Havent got round to sowing your seeds either?

I'm sowing mine on sunday the 4th of March (sticking with the biodynamic calendar).
Remember big seeds=big seedlings with long gangly roots so sow them in a deep tray, or better yet a pot and not too close together. They are hardy annuals so once they pop up get them out into the coldframe. Hopefully within a month they will be hardened off and growing well outside.

Would you trust this man with his bunch of sweetpeas? Jack! who else?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Seed and plant swapping day next weekend

This was in todays e-newsletter from Seed savers;

"We will be hosting our annual Seedy Sunday seed and plant swap on Sunday, March 4 from 12 to 4 pm. This year the event will be held at our site in Capparoe, Scariff rather than at the school in Scariff where it was held in past years. There is no charge for this event, and will also include free admission to walk around the seed gardens and orchards at Seed Savers. All are welcome to attend and to bring any surplus seeds and plants that they want to swap and share with other gardeners. Anyone who brings seeds or plants to swap will receive a free coffee/tea and biscuit voucher.
Forget-me-not, if you have it, you can probably give it away. There are seeds that dont need saving!

Mark your calendars for our Celebration of Seeds to be held at the West County Hotel in Ennis, County Clare on Saturday March 31 and Sunday April 1. Saturday will feature workshops on gardening with children, easy seed sowing for beginners, setting up seed grower networks, and success with sowing and growing potatoes. Sunday will feature a seed and plant swap with seeds from Irish Seed Savers, Brown Envelope Seeds in Cork, and the Heritage Seed Library in the UK, as well as information stalls from Grow It Yourself Ireland and other gardening organisations. This event is funded by the Irish Environmental Network. "

Tomato progress-up and away!

This week my tomatoes joined the early greens in the cold frame. This meant of course the eviction of several other plants that had been snugly tucked up over the winter, but as its mild they haven't gone into shock and seem to be adjusting well. Its been a very mild week in fact, and if it keeps like this the ground will warm up in no time and we can all get sowing outside soon!

chocolate stripe tomatoes in the cold frame

Although I haven't sown all my tomatoes yet its very encouraging to see the two varieties I did sow(Brandywine and chocolate stripe) have all popped up. Technically they haven't germinated until they all get their first set of true leaves. This is exactly what you should expect from fresh seed packets. The extra "just in case" seedlings won't go to waste. There is still lots of time for incidents and accidents; slugs have begun to feed at night, I have found three in the cold frame this week, one happily devouring rocket, so I can't count my chickens yet.
Despite the cat-astrophy of the tray getting flipped over all the seedlings have appeared, though this tray of Brandywine look very disorganised compared to the chocolate stripe.

But if all your seedlings make it to the plant stage what will you do with the spares? There is a seed swapping day coming up I will put all the info from the newsletter on the next post.

I was talking to the head gardener in seed savers last year asking him if they would grow their own seeds to sell on as plants, particularly tomatoes. (after a disasterous tomato sowing spring).Although they do grow lettuce/salad trays they really haven't time for anything else. But he did tell me that a lot of people grow on ISSA seeds to sell plants later at local markets. I know the organic college in Dromcollogher do sell a lot of unusual tomato plants through the markets they visit. If you have extra plants that you cant swap or share later on you could consider selling them on or trading them at the swap day.Or if it all goes horribly wrong and you lose your seedlings you might get good replacements there! You can always buy tomato plants later on in the commercial markets of garden centres and shops but you are likely to encounter a limited amount of tomato varieties, and certainly nothing off the beaten track.

Slug patrol; even under glass or plastic you must keep an eye on new seedlings. Mild damp weather brings out slugs in great numbers and they will be hungry after a lean winter!! Go out at night with the flashlight and look for shiny snail trails. They are most likely to feed after dark. During the day time check under pots or other objects lying close to you seedlings, that's where they will be hiding, they don't stray far from their food!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

You cant eat a view

Maybe we are incredibly cynical as a nation, or just witty in a morbid kind of way. I remember going to see a beautiful derelict farm up in the hills in Bilboa a few years ago. It had 20 good acres on a soft southern slope meeting a river in the valley below. It had never known a bagged fertiliser and the fields were awash with wildflowers. I definitely had stars in my eyes taking in the fabulous view beyond to the distant hills when I was interrupted by Jack saying to the neighbour "its a fine view..but you cant eat a view!" That took the romance right out of it I can tell you, suddenly I was thinking about rebuild costs and REPS schemes.I sobered up and went home!

I may not be walking my land like the high kings once did but even a commoner can walk the roads to appreciate some fine local views.Today after a good stretch of the legs up the hill to Nicker village I kept going up the next hill towards Old Pallas.At the top of the hill, the sun shining, and a local farmer trying to run me over didn't deter me from stopping to appreciate the view. I thought you might too so I took this picture.

excuse the cattle crush-you are out the country

Volunteer day at Seed savers

Anyone interested in a day, or two, volunteering at the Irish Savers Association in Scariff? My crew are going on Wednesday March 28th from 10 am to 4 pm. Let me know if you want to go with them and I will let Chrys know. Check out what they are up to on the website;

cherry tree in full spring bloom

Windowsill propagators in lidl

Still in Lidl in castletroy. Very handy and at under €20 great value.

Early tunnel crops

look how fine the soil on the right is-essential prep for growing carrots
It was a misty crappy day on Wednesday. Two of the lads were burnt out from moving house and the inevitable decluttering that comes with it. In hopes of reviving them we went to Jacks. The spuds we planted two weeks ago have begun to sprout, giving us great encouragement that temperatures in the soil of the tunnel will support early carrots, spring onions, peas and salad crops. To save Jack finding all his strong pea supports(his filing system wouldn't be the greatest) we sowed a nice compact variety called meteor.This little pea only grows to a foot and a half but it bears lots of delicious peas. I would have loved to fill the ground with loads of home made compost but jacks next lot is not ready. Instead we opted for mushroom compost. It will be interesting to see how the peas do in it.

we sowed;

carrots early Nantes 5

french white salad onions

peas meteor

We ran out of time but next it will be beetroot, spinach, lettuce mixed and oriental salad mixes.

Frog mating season

sorry about the photo being upsidedown-this bloody blog keeps taking it in that way!!
AS I was walking out the back door last night I almost stood on two frogs who were so enamoured with each other that they refused to move! Yesterday at Jacks pond they were at it hot and heavy, with piles of frogsspawn testament to all that sweaty work.The funny thing is most people have never heard a singing frog, let alone seen a whole pond of them in action. This is because frogs are notoriously shy, as one of the lads approached the pond he was gobsmacked to see the whole place awash with froggie bodies but in a matter of seconds they all vanished! And to the disappointment of everyone else they refused to reappear while we were around.So if you want to see frogs in action for what is a very short mating season go outside this week, find your nearest frog orgy, be very quiet and sneak up on them!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Double Tomato homicide

Me! I never saw those seedling things you are on about....
Ginger murdered two tomato seedlings. Not just any tomatoes either, bloody Brandywines. I saw him with my own eyes put an inquisitive paw on the seed tray and flipped it over backwards. Watch YOUR back Ginger, thats all I'm saying.....

Last of the sprouts

second last sprout tower in the veg garden
It's almost sad, I harvested the second last tower of sprouts today. After neglecting them since Christmas it was a bit of a surprise to see they were still in good order. I was listening to Matt cooper interview Tony Fenton and another guy about getting treatment from Cancer when the unnamed bloke talked about Bernadette Bohans book and her green juices she makes to stay healthy and prevent cancer reoccuring. The Brassica family are vital in this scheme of cancer prevention.Its funny how as a gardener you take for granted the crops you grow while other people pay a fortune for good organic veg. I know everyone gets complacent and even forgets to use everything simply because we end up with so much of it.Sometimes it takes something like that to get you down the garden collecting the best food you cant buy!

Ladybirds need antidepressants too

Red spotted ladybird hiding in st johns wort and black bamboo
Another fine spring day, calm, dry and mild, (T.G) as mum would say.The forecast is of course rotten for the rest of the week. I think it's Murphys Law, you can only have two fine days to a weeks worth of rain. Anyway after arsing around the house like a zombie all morning I got myself together to do some weeding,(nothing like the threat of rubbish weather for the rest of the week to get you motivated) out in the herbaceous border in the veg garden where roses are badly in need of pruning and perennials need a major chopping back.

I don't believe in this big tidy up we are encouraged to do in the Autumn.I believe in leaving lots of safe places for insects to hibernate for the winter. I know lots of people who clean up the garden, cut everything back and then make insect hotels to keep valuable hover flies, particular types of beetles and of course ladybirds hibernating in the garden over the winter !! Is anybody else seeing a bit of irony in this?! So I dont do a big tidy up, especially not in the border next to the vegetable garden until the end of February or into March. I'm trying to let the insects slumber in peace.Some unenlightened soul will no doubt pass comment on the decaying jungle of twigs and leaves in your garden,(probably over christmas when you made the mistake of inviting them over for dinner) just keep a superior glint in your eye. You know what you are doing!!

How many can you see? after I took this I found two more in the photo!
Today I began my clean up, and my untidiness through Autumn and winter was rewarded by lots of sightings of yellow and red spotted ladybirds in the twiggy remains of last years perennials. Mostly it has to be said in the st johns wort leading me to believe that ladybirds suffer from S.A.D. too and probably spend their hibernation sucking sap from the oldest known antidepressant in the world.Is it like moving to Amsterdam for the winter I wonder? maybe there a lesson in there for the rest of us...

Hellebore in all its glory
As an added bonus I found a hellebore flowering beneath the black bamboo. This is the first time it has bravely attempted to stick a few flowers up since I put it in, so it must be settling in and getting whatever it needs from the soil afterall( Igave it up as a failure last year). Maybe if I occassionally gave it a bit of compost and cut it back like I'm suppost to it would reward me even more, but I might spoil it then! It's a pity the flowers hang down so much, it's really a plant that needs to be planted up higher for you to appreciate it.But if you are looking for a spring flower you can cheaply sow them from seed and they are tough little reliable plants. Under trees, or taller shading companions is where they like to be, and apparently they will grown on heavy clay soil and put up with wilful neglect-what more could you ask for?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

National Biodiversity Centre workshops 2012


my fantastic sister sent me this PDF which she got from the Heritage Council website thinking it might be of interest to me and my gardening/organic/hippy fraternity. And it is! I will attempt to attach the PDF, if it all goes pear shaped I will add a link to the website where you can download it. Maybe we should organise a group excursion to one of these events? let me know! And yes no luck attaching the pdf, but click on the link to download the PDF on this page. Thanks Treas!


Prep your beds for early carrots

We are preparing the ground for the first three outdoor crops, early onions(and garlic) to be planted the end of February, Carrots to be sown outdoors in early March, and 1st earlies to go in around mid to late March.

Carrots first;

last years container grown carrots
Do you remember me on about using the stale seed bed method, where we warm up the ground, and collect the first seasons weeds by putting clear plastic over a bed for a few weeks before sowing a crop? That's exactly what we are doing to prepare the ground for early carrots. The soil is still cold, you can test it by dropping your pants and resting your bare cheeks on it, can you stay there comfortably? or if you are a bit concerned that the neighbours might happen to look out the window, or worse appear at the garden gate at the fateful moment,(and think you were becoming a bit feral) you can use your elbow, and test the soil the same way to see how long you can comfortably hold your skin in contact with the soil. If you'd rather not use your arse or your elbow use your eyes instead- that is wait until you see weed seeds germinating in the soil then you know the soil temperature has risen enough to sow your early veggie seeds.

We did not choose a bed that had been planted with a green manure, rather we chose one that had been manured last year and had grown a crop already. Carrots don't like fresh manure, and hate heavy nitrogen, so we chose a bed with fine light soil, leaving the green manured beds for other purposes.There is a brilliant carrot website if you want to really get the lowdown on carrots,

Garlic & Onions;
In the community garden the soil is particularly good, I am reliably informed it was a very productive school garden for years. Because of crop rotation garlic and onions slot in after brassicas. There is already a bed of overwintering onions and garlic in the brassica area from last year, right next to where we will plant the new garlic cloves and onion sets. These are growing really well considering they were sown in November. Once the last of the cabbage is harvested from the bed we will lightly weed it, aiming to get in the garlic and onions next week.

weeding the overwintering garlic and onions

Jack and his giant cabbages! thanks to mushroom compost
Spuds-1st earlies;
Spuds may be the trickiest thing to prepare the ground for. Its getting almost impossible to get good quality cow manure now thanks to slotted units and slurry tanks. Luckily one of the gang is on a farm, and thinks she will be able to supply us. Jacks mushroom compost is good but seems to be too limey, last years crop had a dose of scab. Its perfect for the brassicas though. A good link for growing spuds in Ireland is here;

Dig in your green manures!

digging in autumn sown mustard
Its time to get our lazy winter arses into gear and go outside to dig. One of this years gang is a very enthusiastic digger, I'm constantly having to keep an eye on him, he's like a one man bulldozer! This week though he got the licence to dig when we chopped down and dug in the green manures in the community gardens.

We sowed Mustard in September, rye grass and field beans in November. All of them grew really well, the mustard in particular was very full and satisfying after only a few weeks. A passing horse though so too, he took a huge clump of it when he broke into the garden and ate nothing else!!

Johnnys decrepit Glasshouse

Johnny lives in one of those old terraced Victorian houses. Out back is the long narrow garden so typical of these old terraces, with a wall and neighbouring hedges, a wild fruit patch overflowing with loganberries, gooseberries, raspberries and very aggressive blackberries (let that be a warning to ye all) and last but not least a well neglected glasshouse, about 8x10.

its amazing how quickly it goes to shit
briers aplenty
Taking it down is tricky, lots of clips that hold glass panes, mapping out a scheme of stickers and numbers to more easily reconstruct it, undoing bolts, screws and getting it off the concrete base. All that would be EASY compared to cutting down the tree that was growing through it and cutting down the army of briers inside and outside it!! A job for boys if ever there was one, so Johnny and my poor husband tackled phase one last weekend.

I hope Seamus understands the code- I dont know what it means!
Johnny cut down the tree and Seamus carefuly took out each glass pane, numbering it to correspond to a map he made that should make putting it back together a doddle (we hope).One of my neighbours warned me that sometimes glass panes can shatter when you are taking a glasshouse down. Something about releasing them from the clips, expansion blah blah blah. Anyway, it didnt happen. But the bigger surprise is how many of them were perfectly intact. Apart from inspecting and supervising the work I did do some token chopping of briers with the most antique looking hedge cutters I have ever seen. It came with the house according to Johnny, and after a few minutes using it I'd say it's 50 years since it tasted either oil or a oilstone! I know what to bring Johnny next time I visit.

 Next weekend comes the next phase, taking the aluminum frame apart, and hopefully carting all the remaining pieces home, where we will no doubt scratch our heads and wonder how we are going to put it all back together again! At the moment it looks like its going into the vegetable garden. It does mean the loss of some good vegetable beds but hopefully the gains will be worth it.

I know aluminum glasshouses arent particularly pretty but they are affordable and hey you can always paint them-which I plan on doing. Of course when I mentioned this I was immediately teased about putting a nice shade of pink on the frame to make sure its feminine enough. I didnt take the bait, I'm no pink panther, especially not in the garden!! Of course if you have the money you can buy really beautiful victorian style or that horrible word "bespoke" creations. Most of us don't have the money, so we can only dream, and spend lots of time in these fab creations at places like the Chelsea flower show. (Glasshouse porn if you like)If you want to indulge yourselves on what a handmade wooden glasshouse might look like check out these links. Polydome is less romantically inclined but its Irish. Once you see the prices you will appreciate it if someone offers you one for free. Thanks Johnny, you will be richly rewarded in chillis!!

Friday, 10 February 2012

weekend weather

sunshine and blue skies, 14.25pm today Friday 10th 2012

The sun is shining and its a lovely mild day, the perfect day for weeding and tidying up. And if you are following the moon calendar, the day to sow root veg. The weekend looks good too. Got this from met eireann;

Regional Forecasts

10 February 2012- updated at 13:00


This afternoon will be mild and mainly cloudy with a good deal of dry weather and just a few spots of drizzle or light rain in places. Top temperatures 9 to 11 degrees and winds will be light southerly.


Tonight will be mild with patches of rain and drizzle. Mist and fog will become extensive. Min temperatures 7 or 8 degrees in light winds.


Another mild day tomorrow with just a little rain or drizzle and light winds. Top temperatures will range 9 to 11 degrees.

Rocket 4 days after sowing

Italian rocket sown 6/02/12
The Italian rocket has been living in the cold frame since it came up. I know a lot of people find it hard to take seedlings off their warm spots on propagators or window sills but it's so important to do it. Otherwise you end up with leggy weak specimens that rarely perform well if at all! Dwarfs, not supermodels-thats what you want from your seedlings.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Shelter and the wild wild west

Stand where you see that brown blob-and see all the way to sea
One of the best views I know is from home, on top of the hill where you can see all the way to Spanish point and Mutton island beyond, all the way to where the sea meets the horizon.In all the times visitors have stood to admire the view it has never occurred to anyone that the reason for this vista is a distinct lack of trees, and where there are no trees, there is no shelter. Old boys like my father believe "nothing grows around here" ignoring the evidence to the contrary when armies of bog oak are frequently unearthed in neighbouring fields. Just to be sure no trees should get ideas above their station every house has a chainsaw and its exercised yearly to keep it in good order. Hazels, willow and hawthorn that might take a nice shape, and grow to a decent height are quickly put back where they belong, at ground level.

the accursed hill in winter
So no trees, no hope of any trees succeeding does make for a fine uninterrupted view for miles in every direction, but bloody hell it makes for a windy place to live.During many a winter storm, passing 100mph winds would rock the ancient gable, keeping you awake at night listening while old timbers creaked and groaned. At times you wondered, is this it? will the roof come off any minute now? Years and years later, driving to my new home, passing lots of old trees and pretty hedges, it never remotely occurred to me that soon I would be reliving some of those classic sleepless stormy nights, this time much worse than the original versions.

It was a dead giveaway when people who visited would say " what a beautiful view!"But enamoured with the view, and deceptively much farther inland than a West Clare girl should go I settled down happily. Over time I found the land was rich, particularly in minerals. The natives were friendly, and spoke a version of English that I could understand, and the weather, although much colder than the fair maritime seas of home in winter, was certainly warmer in summer. There seemed to be a lot less rain too... bliss!

dress it up however you want its still bad weather!
But then I woke up one night, surprised by the ferocity of the wind blowing on the western gable. No inland place could surely be as noisy as home I thought, its a fluke, back to sleep. Only there was no going back to sleep and each successive forecast that predicted any form of a strong wind, filled me with dread, and usually brought me to wakefulness at some ungodly hour, made me cranky and extremely cross the next day. How the bloody hell can you move this far inland and suffer the noise of an Atlantic coast in full winter storm?

Well 5 years later its all becoming crystal clear. I live in a wind tunnel! How the feck did I manage to chose a place that can rival and surpass home for wind noise and sleepless nights?? Its all geography. I wont bore you with the ins and outs but a hill channels the wind and it roars across my house. So now, through necessity,  I am the worlds leading authority on how many hedges you can squeeze into a 3/4 of an acre site. And we have done nothing else more consistently, than plant hedges.

a single line of hornbeam for the seated area
The 2012 hedging season got off to a good start with this years two hedges getting delivered last Friday. This time its the turn of purple beech and hornbeam, two stalwarts of heavy clay soil, particularly the hornbeam that is bullet proof when it comes to strong winds. Both keep their brown leaves in Winter too, adding a much needed screen for areas that need as much shelter and privacy as possible, a seating area and the vegetable garden. There are now two rows of hedging at the offending south western corner of the site plus a shrub/tree wind break line. No doubt next year one of us will decide that's still not enough and we need more!

If James ever sells the field I'm buying it. And I know exactly what to do with it too. Fill it with layer after layer of trees and hedging for the ultimate wind break!

Hedging season is from November to March, buy your hedging bare rooted during these months and save yourself a lot of money. You can plant single lines of hedging or staggered double rows. Hornbeam can be pruned at the bottom to give a nice floating hedge or hedge on stilts look. Purple beech can be mixed with green beech for a mottled effect. Hornbeam grows much faster but both make beautiful hedges that look best when kept nicely trimmed.

hornbeam hedge in Kilmainham, Dublin

purple beech

Rocket seedings win the race

2 day old rocket seedlings
Thought you might like to know of the five types of seeds I sowed on Monday the rocket was up yesterday closely followed by the texsel greens today.

Very fast work! I have taken them off the propagator and removed their plastic dome lid.As the day warms up I will move them to the cold frame to keep the onion seedlings company.

Rocket is cold hardy so its perfect for Spring and Autumn growing. In summer it bolts at speed with the heat. And even though the flowers are very pretty, you must keep cutting them out, preventing them from going to seed if you hope to keep eating rocket leaves.

rocket in flower, summer 2011
Just spotted the first of the organic lettuces is throwing off its seed jacket. Hopefully by next week most of these seedlings will be up and outside under the cold frame freeing up the propagator for the next batch of seedlings!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Charlotte potatoes

Hot off the press Heather has 1.75kg packets of charlotte seed potatoes free to good homes! Ring her ASAP!! If you click on this link Trevor Sargent writes about digging and eating Charlottes in his blog;

Heather hard at work at Jacks! sorry Heather couldnt find a better picture!!!

Monday, 6 February 2012

the end of the onion age

Did we really eat them all?
I ran out of home grown onions today-its offical. It just goes to show you there are certain things you can never grow enough of.

Sowing early greens

the posh box, putting in the feb seed and taking out the jan ones
Today was a leaf day on the biodynamic calendar so when I looked out and saw it had finally cleared I took it as as a sign to get sowing. This year I am trying a new seed system that I read about in an article Bob Flowerdew wrote in Amateur Gardening Magazine in the December 24/31 issue.

He advises you to group your seeds not by their families but according to the month in which they need to be sown. He also writes about the virtues of going through your seed boxes to throw away all out of date seeds and fit in the new ones.And of course to locate the runaway seeds in the bottom of the box!

Inspired to clear out all my seed boxes once and for all I sat down and followed his advise. So I still have my family boxes with their seeds but each packet is grouped with the others that can be sown the same month.And now I have one posh storage box that holds this months seeds for sowing. As the month ends out go the that months seeds and in come the next months. Simple, easy, and so far so good! and no mouldy old seeds in the bottom of the box or out of date packets trying to trick you into sowing them!

i'ts a bit rough, being multipurpose, so it needs sieving
This year I am trying to stick with organic compost as much as possible so I had a bag of new horizon peat free organic compost to freshly open today. Try as much as you can to use fresh compost, buy a small bag if you don't sow much, just don't use stale stuff, recycle it in the garden as a mulch. I got the new horizon in Gardeners world, it's actually hard to find, but Heather, if you are reading this and B&Q are stocking it please post it in the comments below!

I'm using the windowsill heated propagator with it's six separate compartments. As these are all small its perfect for sowing small amounts of greens like rocket and lettuce that need to be succession sown. As each compartment is self contained once one lot of seeds have begun to germinate I can whip them off to the cold frame for better light leaving the others to continue "cooking" on the gently heat. I realised today that one type of lettuce I am sowing will not germinate over 18c! so there is such a thing as too much heat!!

first time trying this brand
love the tea this makes
spinach, very healthy stuff

there can never be enough rocket

more new seeds, this time from Rossinver
new oriental greens to try out

Anyway all the seeds were broadcast onto the seed trays. Only the spinach seeds were large enough to merit being sown slightly deeper, all the rest were sown just mm from the tops of the trays.A light dusting of well sieved compost finished the job, although I did have to really clean each little compartment on the outside before I could take them accross the kitchen to the propagator. I'd be banned from indoor sowing if I got compost on the floor! Makes you wonder what happens to Ginger when I'm not here? Is he hoovered in my absence when he comes back from patrol? We did wash the cat in the bathroom sink and dry him with the hairdrier as children but then he was the most unusually relaxed cat. There is NO WAY you would have the use of your hands left if you even attempted that with Ginger!!

the six seed trays waiting for a final sieving     

a LIGHT sieving, not a recreation of what happened to Pompeii when Mt Vesuvius blew!!  

The heated propagator fits nicely on the windowsill
So remember! Sow seeds at the right time of year, to the correct depth. Small seeds like a small, barely there covering of compost, larger seeds go deeper, and most seed packets contain specific depths for each type of seed. If you have no sowing depth given go shallower-not deeper!!