Spring 2021: Growing Notes

In the UK, the clocks rolled back to daylight saving time on Sunday 28th March, and Easter is upon us. In my world, that means one thing… it’s time to plant some seeds! Last weekend, I dug out my propagator and some pots, gave them a good wash and hunted out some compost.

This time last year I went a bit crazy, planting all sorts of things, only to run out of space and time to properly care for and nurture all my little plant babies. We live in a very small house with little outdoor space, which means that spots that receive enough sunlight to grow from seeds is at a premium. This year, I am going to learn my lesson and take it slow – I will plant less, but take better care of my seedlings and aim to grow them to maturity.

The first batch of seeds I have set off are some vegetables: baby carrots and spring onions, and a few herbs: mint and chives.

A full propagator
9 days later, signs of life!

Growing notes

Carrots

Daucus carota

My gardening books promise that home-grown carrots have a superior taste compared to shop-bought carrots, while warning of the perils of the dreaded carrot root fly, which can devastate carrot crops.

To test this out, I’m having a go at growing baby carrots, which have a shorter growing span than fully fledged carrots. I bought some Royal Chantenay 3 variety seeds, which should produce short Chantenay carrots with a sweet flavour and crunchy texture. According to the seed packet, these can be sown from March until June. With any luck they will be ready to harvest from June to October!

Spring onions (scallions)

Allium cepa

A few months ago, I attempted to overwinter spring onions, but sadly they didn’t turn out too well. Despite a promising start, the seedlings became straggly, droopy and unhappy. Ultimately I ended up donating them to the compost bin (sad face!) At some point in the future, I will probably invest in some grow lights for winter growing experiments, which may help with lack of light and warmth problems.

So I have had another go at planting some White Lisbon variety of seeds. With any luck they will turn out better this time!

Liquorice Mint (Korean Mint)

Agastache rugosa

I love mint – I have vivid memories of playing in my Nanna’s garden as a kid in which mint had spread everywhere, and she always made fresh mint sauce from the garden to accompany her lamb roast dinners. So when I saw this variety, my curiosity was piqued. Apparently, Liquorice Mint looks like mint and is used similarly, however it is not actually mint but a cultivated variety of Agastache rugosa from Korea. Interesting – we’ll see how it turns out!

Garlic Chives

Allium tuberosum

Chives can be sown from early spring under glass. ‘Conventional’ chives which are the type stocked in many UK supermarkets feature long green leaves which are smooth, slim and hollow (Allium schoenoprasum). Garlic chives are slightly smaller than regular chives with similar leaves except they are flat rather than hollow. Garlic / Chinese chives are perennial (perennial means a plant that lives for several years) and may die back in colder winters. The first hurdle will be getting them to grow in the first place, but provided that is successful, it will be fascinating to see if they resprout next spring!

Fingers crossed, there will be some seedlings on the go in The Salford Kitchen before very long!

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