Sunday, 29 April 2012

Seedlings: The Game is Afoot!

As regular followers will be aware, I enjoyed a thoroughly marvellous week back in my native East Sussex last week, which meant that all of the seeds I had planted were left on the cool kitchen floor for nine days!

I had watered the pots well before I went and left them in a cool place away from direct sunlight in order to ensure that they wouldn't bake and dry out in my absence.  Not knowing what I would return to find, I was delighted to arrive back home in the Peak District and find courgette, cucumber, French bean and tomato seedlings all pushing their way through the soil.


As any vegetable gardener will know, planting from seed and starting out for the year is an exciting time.  As soon as those first seedlings start to show through the soil, the gardener truly knows that the game is afoot and a summer full of vegetable gardening is upon us.

I particularly like the way that this courgette plant has sprouted and is still adorning the seed pod it grew from!

As we move into the coming weeks, it's time to watch these seedlings progress and develop into sturdy plants that we can then think about hardening off and then placing outside.

How are your seedlings going?  Still waiting for shoots to appear, or are you enjoying a garden full of sturdy vegetable plants already?  Come and share your experiences, photos and comments with the London Vegetable Garden community on Facebook by clicking here, or why not follow us on Twitter, @londonveggarden - we look forward to seeing you there!

A Countryman's Holiday...

Despite a decade in London and my current residence in the Peak District, I simply adore my home county of East Sussex.  A week of leave from work allowed me to take a trip down south with my wife last week, catching up with family and friends in my hometown of Lewes that I love so very dearly. 

This trip meant a lack of gardening blogging, but I include a few photographs of the Sussex countryside so that my faithful followers can enjoy the sights and scenery that I have been enjoying this past week.


Lewes, East Sussex


Lewes, East Sussex

Coming down Chapel Hill into Lewes, East Sussex

The South Downs, Lewes, East Sussex

River at Alfriston, East Sussex

River at Alfriston, East Sussex

The Clergy House vegetable garden, Alfriston, East Sussex

Beachy Head, East Sussex


Sea at Eastbourne, East Sussex

Sunday, 15 April 2012

And We're Off!

This weekend, I made the most of the good weather and decided to get cracking on this year's vegetables. A sunny Saturday morning was spent turning out the shed (which resulted in a trip to the tip!) and turning it into a potting shed for me to do my gardening.

Cup of tea freshly brewed, I started sorting through my seed collection and seeing which ones I wanted to plant again this year. Once that had been decided (and a second cup of tea made), I then started to plant up a wide array of seeds.

I have not taken many pictures, but have planted the following this weekend:

Runner beans
French beans

I have potted these up using multi-purpose compost and laid them out indoors, while the seeds germinate and grow into seedlings. The weather is still far too unpredictable to plant directly in the soil – we still have some snow on the hills around us in the Peak District! I have covered the tops of the plant pots with cling film, which acts as a propagator lid and keeps some of the heat and moisture in. The position under the skylight should allow the seeds to grow nicely and get the few bits of sunshine and warmth that we get during the day!

As well as the seedlings inside, I have experimented with placing some seeds outside, albeit in a greenhouse. I purchased the greenhouse for £19.99 and it will provide me with extra space to plant seeds outside (under shelter), while turning into a really good space to grow warmth-loving plants such as tomatoes when summer finally arrives.

As always, I will be reporting my progress over the next few weeks on the blog. However, you can follow mw on Twitter - @londonveggarden – or 'like' the London Vegetable Garden on Facebook for regular updates and pictures throughout the week.

HOW TO: make your own newspaper plant pots!

Whether you're gardening on a budget, are on a mission to be as eco-friendly as possible, or have simply run out of flowerpots, making your own planters out of old newspaper is as easy as it gets.

In addition to being free to make, newspaper plant pots / planters are fantastic for planting vegetable seeds, because when the plants are ready to be transplanted into the ground, or a larger pot, all you have to do is drop the whole thing in the ground. Once in the ground, the newspaper will disintegrate, meaning that no damage is done to the roots of the plant when transplanting.

To make your newspaper plant pots, you will need:

  • Newspaper
  • A jam jar
  • That's it!
1. Start by taking two sheets of a newspaper and folding them in half lengthways, together.

2. Take your jam jar and place it on the newspaper, with the open top end facing inwards and the bottom end of the jam jar approximately one inch outside of the newspaper edge, as shown:

3. Roll the jam jar and the newspaper until all of the newspaper is wrapped around the jam jar.

4. At the end with the open top of the jam jar, start folding the newspaper in on itself to form a base, as shown:

5. Remove the jam jar!

6. Once the jam jar is removed, make your hand into a fist and pad down the bits of newspaper at the base, like this:

7. If there are a few gaps in the base of your newspaper plant pot, you can fix this by folding over a few small pieces of newspaper and placing these in the bottom.

8. And there you have it! Fill with compost for a sturdy, environmentally-friendly plant pot.

Remember, you will be watering these quite regularly, so make sure that your newspaper plant pots aren't too flimsy – use an extra sheet of newspaper if you want to make an extra strong plant pot.

Good luck!

Had a go at making newspaper plant pots, or something similar, yourself? Why not share photos of your creations on the London Vegetable Garden Facebook page, or send a tweet to @londonveggarden!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Peak Planting: A Brand New Chapter!

It's time for a big adventure and a new challenge - luckily Skip Hire Derby is on hand to support... so what am I up to?  It's time for a completely new chapter.

Last year, my wife and I discussed the prospect of leaving London and starting a completely new life somewhere. Both of us had enjoyed London immensely over a decade; however we both felt like it was the right time in life to move on to our next adventure.

In the summer of 2011, we made the move up north to a beautiful little cottage in the Peak District, complete with (fanfare please) a garden! An actual garden!

With spring arriving (albeit in snowy fits and starts), I felt that the time was right for a completely new chapter in the life of the London Vegetable Garden. Back in 2009, planting a few vegetable seeds on my London flat balcony and starting a blog about it became a real passion for me, awakening a genuine hobby that I had no idea I possessed.

Readers that have been with me since the beginning will know that I then embarked upon an allotment adventure, courtesy of two lovely old ladies down in Richmond. The past year or so has been quiet, namely because I had to give the allotment up, then all of the upheaval with a huge move and a new job.

But I'm pleased to say that I am now embarking on yet another great chapter with the London Vegetable Garden. So what does the future hold for this blog and my organic odyssey?

Firstly, the name. I realise that I am now a rather large geographical distance from London, which makes the name of this blog rather spurious. However, as someone who works in marketing, I also know how important a brand is, and I believe the London Vegetable Garden has built up a fantastic following of wonderful people who all know the blog as it stands. However, despite the different location, the premise remains: I am committed to blogging about my adventures in the garden and showing everyone that growing your own vegetables is simple, easy and enjoyable, regardless of space.

Which moves us on nicely to the second point – the space! Here is a photo of my garden:

This is the section of the garden set aside for growing vegetables in the ground. The space is approximately 5' by 4'.

This space at the bottom of the garden is all patio and paving slabs; however this is where I plan to grow plenty of crops in pots, aiming to show people how easy it can be to grow vegetables in small spaces.

And finally, the garden has a beautiful stream and some woodland at the bottom - here is a photograph showing the beautiful scenery:

So, if you are still with me dear reader, thank you for sticking with me and I hope that you thoroughly enjoy the next chapter in the life of the London Vegetable Garden – up north! And remember, you can follow all of my planting adventures by following me on Twitter - @londonveggarden.


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