Follow Nature, now is the ideal time to sow seeds.

As summer draws to a close,  not only is it the time to harvest seeds, it is also the ideal time to sow seeds as the soil is  beautifully warm.  By sowing now, either direct into a prepared space in the garden or into a pot,  which is positioned against south facing wall or in a cold green house,  you will have herbs that you can harvest throughout the winter months that will help you transform a meal into a feast .

One of the best is Parsley, both Curly, Petroselinum crispum  and Flat leaved French, Petroselinum cripsum French

PP25 Petroselinum crispum-2By sowing now it will germinate in approximately 10-14 days.  The seedlings will not be hassled by carrot fly and, once established, the plants will withstand frosts. After  a frost they do look rather sad, but very quickly they perk back ready for use in the kitchen.

Another indispensable herb is  Winter Purslane, Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata.  This is a wonderful cut and come again herb that adds fresh succulent leaves to salads throughout the winter months.

PC24 leaf

September is also an ideal month for sowing Chervil,  Anthriscus cerefolium. This will also produce an abundant crop for use through the winter months.  In temperatures below -8c it is advisable to cover in a cloche.

PA33 leaf landscape

Some seeds are far better sown fresh because, if delayed until the spring, they will need ‘stratification’,  frost, or putting in the fridge to trigger germination.   Angleica, Angleica archangelica, is one of these herbs.

PA29 Angleica seed head-2

If the fresh seed is sown now, into a seed tray or pots,  it will take only 14-21 days to germinate and the seedlings will withstand all the vagaries of the weather, but will need protecting from ‘Denis’, our blackbird, and the pesky mice.

‘If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.’  Confucius

***END OF SEASON HERB PLANT SALE ***SEPTEMBER  20th &21st           10am – 4pm.   Herb Teas, Tea, Coffee and home made cakes available.

 

Relentless Optimism, sowing the seeds for 2013

I love early winter, the light levels are still good, the warmth is still in the soil and the seed harvest is finally in.  I now look forward to sitting inside in the warmth, cleaning the seed  so making it easier to sow.

I never ceased to be amazed by the ingenuity and beauty of seeds.

Szechuan pepper – Zanthoxylum simulans

Talking of 2013 I have already started sowing the seeds for early flowering.  The germination has been very good.

Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus

These Cornflowers took a mere 5 days to germinate using a bottom heat of 15C .  I have now removed them from the heat.  They will grow on in the greenhouse until spring has truly arrived.  Hopefully they will be ready and in flower for our display at the 100 th Chelsea flower Show where we will be launching our new Herboretum.   I know the tickets for this  truly amazing show are now on sale, being that it is the 100 th Chelsea can I suggest that if you are thinking of coming you get a ticket soon.

Painted Sage – Salvia viridis

These Painted Sage, one of my favourite annuals, also germinated quickly and I am 90% certain they will be a show stopper next year . Here, as a reminder  of the beauty of this sage, is  a photograph I took in the early summer.

On a positive note,  for those of you who do not enjoy the winter months, it is only 16 weeks until the 1st of March!

Print from a paper cut created by Rose Vickers one of the Jamaica Street Artists

The proverbial British weather Part 2.

The weather has, to put it concisely, been mind focusing. On wednesday 2nd February

it was Candlemas day, in the USA it is called Ground Hog Day.  There are numerous sayings regarding Candlemas ; ‘If Candlemas day be fair and bright, Winter will have another fight. If Candlemas day brings cloud and rain, Winter won’t come again.’ and ‘If Candlemas day is bright and clear there will be two winters in the year’.  As you are probably all aware it was bright and clear!!!

Today as I sit here writing this  blog watching the snow flakes silently settle

I am pondering where we are going to put next weeks potting. So all you gardeners, who do not have a glasshouse or warm propagation house,  close up your sheds, put away your hoes, get the gardening books out and wait. Your turn will come in March and then you will be running to make up time.

Despite the weather  it  been full steam ahead  on the herb farm , potting up and sowing seeds .

 All the newly potted stock has been placed under horticultural fleece  to keep it warm.  While we have been doing that Hannah,  Annabel and Graham, our web guru,  have been putting the finishing touches to our new website.

It looks great and I especially like the seed section in the on line shop as Graham and Hannah have magically transferred my information into simple clear graphics, so you can see at a glance when to sow the seed,where to sow, under cover or in the garden, and when to harvest.

So please visit it next week when it should go live!  and do let us know what you think and more importantly if you find any snags.

The proverbial British weather.

I love clear frosty mornings,

 

not only does the sun lift your spirit, the birds sing, the air is clear and you know that any aphid that is silly enough to have thought spring was on the way has been given a shock.

On the other hand I know that the grey, dank, gloomy days one can get in January and February are, to use a wonderful word, lugubrious .  It is on those days that working in the glasshouse can lift your spirits, as there is nothing more inspiring than seeing seedlings emerging.

Also, when I take a tea break in the afternoon, I top up my good mood with a cup of 3pm tea, the sheer warmth and aroma of the peppermint warms the cockles of one’s heart.

I can hear you all muttering that I am having a senior moment, well may be, but seriously there is nothing more inspiring than raising plants.  So top tip for the next few weeks, prepare some plug trays or a small pot, fill with seed compost, water in well, then sow the herb seeds of your choice, cover with perlite, not vermiculite. For those that don’t know the difference, perlite is the white light product and does not hold water

and vermiculite is the beige product that does hold water.  Only water again if you find that the compost is drying out and, if it is a salad herb, the seed will sprout within a week.  At that point it is crucial not to over water.  So a good tip is to water in the morning before you leave for work, not at night so that the seedlings do not go to bed wet.

Happy sowing.

2012 Happy New Year from Jekka’s Herb Farm

Happy New Year to you all.

A new season has started, the days are getting longer and the seeds are  beginning to germinate. This is the ideal time to start  sowing some varieties of  seed under protection so that  you can get a head start on the year.

The seeds which benefit from an early start include many of the annual herbs which will mean that you can have them flowering as early as possible. Calendula, Borage, Nasturtiums are the prime ones and also the salad herbs such as  Wild Rocket, Parsley and especially Purple Shiso. Not only does the Shiso look great in the garden, it, like the other two salad herbs mentioned, is ideal  to whet the appetite after the glut of  winter root vegetables.

There are two watch points at this time of year, first is watering. Be very careful  not to over water, but also do not stress the young plants by letting them dry out. Check the weight of the container before watering as the surface of the compost can look dry when the root ball is actually wet .

The second major watch point is ventilation. Open up the poly tunnel, glasshouse or window, when ever possible and certainly if the temperature rises to double figures in the day.  Only cover tender young or newly potted plants with horticultural fleece when the night temperature drops below 5C.

Just recently I have been enchanted each morning  by the most delightful Song Thrush, it has the most uplifting song.  I checked, via the RSPB, that my identification was correct and discovered with great sadness that this

 wonderful bird is on the red endangered list.

So please could you add to your new years resolution to be to be more sustainable and organic in the garden, for  the Thrush is a good friend to the gardener eating snails.  Then our grandchildren , in years to come, will also be able to be enchanted by the Song Thrush.

© Jekka McVicar , Jekka’s Herb Farm,  January 2012.