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.