The Idunn Project – Part Three

| March 23, 2009 | 0 Comments

In this article I want to take a look at what sort of crops can be sown towards the back end of a year and into the early months. It’s also a good idea to take a look at what can go straight into the ground from the bag and what benefits from a head start by being propagated in a green house. Note that I am only looking at crops that can be started in a green house and then transplanted outside. I will address crops that can be grown in a green house all year round later on (if I have any actual experience of doing this).

It is feasible to start germinating most seeds as early as you want under controlled conditions but you have to bare in mind how fast seeds germinate, which depends on what conditions you create, and when they would normally be planted from seed outside. This year I personally have started with leeks, onions, sweet corn and broad beans sown inside the green house. All of the above were started from late December through to late January.

Indoor sowing obviously requires that you have plenty of room indoors or the use of a greenhouse (with a heater to regulate temperature).

Sowing fine seeds such as leeks and onions requires the use of trays, modular trays are best if you want to avoid thinning, but personally I have used standard flat trays (both can be bought from any garden centre). First fill the tray with a light soil based compost that can be easily pattered down. Then water the tray finely, a sprinkler on the end of a watering can is ideal. Scatter the seeds evenly, in rows if you prefer, over the compost and then lightly cover them (preferably with a sieve) with a layer of compost. Seeds differ in whether or not they need light in order to germinate, personally I hadn’t much idea about this so I used my fathers method which is to cover them with a piece of newspaper place them under glass and check on them regularly to see when they had started to come through, once they had take them out of the glass frame and place them in sunlight. You will need to check, and turn over the glass, on your frame at least once a day anyway to avoid condensation build up.

Sowing beans, broad beans, runner/French beans etc, used a slightly different method. Buy yourself some bio degradable pots, or do what I did which was to use the card board middle from toilet rolls! Put the pots into a tray and fill each one with compost. Push the seed into the pot (obviously allowing enough room for the roots to take hold) and water. Beans shouldn’t really be placed under glass as they can sprout too quickly, at least in my experience. Some beans, particularly broad beans, can be sown straight into the ground in late February/early March.

Finally potatoes. Potatoes crops generally come in four clusters, early, second early, main crop and late. Early’s are planted late February or early March. It’s perfectly fine to plant seed potatoes straight into the ground. Seed potatoes, like all seeds, are available from garden centres and even general stores. Of course seed quality varies from place to place, if you have the money there are reputable dealers, such as Robinson’s. Planting potatoes outdoors requires no more than digging a furrow across the width of your ground, building a mound, also the width of your plot, and planting the potatoes, around fifteen inches to two apart and leave about a foot and a half between rows. Make sure that the “eyes” of a potato (the small bumps on the surface) are facing up. Potatoes need earthing up through out the growing period to stimulate growth and to avoid sun light reaching the tubers and turning them green and inedible. If you wish to gain early growth on your potatoes then you can start indoors with a technique known as “chitting”. Using modular trays place the potato “eyes” up in the tray, leave in direct sunlight and wait for the shoots to appear. When they are about an inch high they are ready for transplanting.

As always any comments, criticism and advice is welcome.

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Category: The Idun Project

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