The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The magic of seeds

Photo: Spring violas

Photo: Spring violas

This has been a weekend of feverish digging and preparation. The new potato bed has such wonderful soil that we have ripped up half the rose walk to have a similar sized bed beside the spuds. This will be the brassica bed this year – cauliflower, calabrese, Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli. Although we won’t harvest the latter until April 2010.

It’s our first year for cauliflower and Brussels sprouts so there has been quite a lot of thumbing through the vegetable gardening books. I can highly recommend Joy Larkcom’s excellent book Grow Your Own Vegetables , the belt and braces bible that I turn to again and again packed with all the information that you will ever need. My brother picked it up in the award winning Aldeburgh bookshop when he was last over from New Zealand.

When I opened the book I knew instantly that I had to buy it. It’s more of a text book with simple line drawings. If you want inspirational photographs and information, keep a beady eye out for The Organic Salad Garden   by Joy Larkom. This is well worth adding to a wish list. Lots of pictures and vumpf along with her steady advice and expertise. With this book at the hip you can easily grow interesting and unusual salad crops all year, save yourself loads of money and eat ultra fresh salad crops. Supermarket salad leaves are expensive and not a patch on leaves grown at home. If you don’t have a kitchen garden, a grow bag or a pot will do very well as an alternative.

Someone emailed me for plans on how to start growing vegetables in your garden. I’m no expert but when I looked up Joy Larkom’s books on Amazon I spotted this tempting book Creative Vegetable Gardening: Growing Vegetables with Flowers in the Classic Tradition  by Joy Larkom. Up until now I have seperated flower borders from vegetable  ones. Mainly from a watering perspective. The veggies need loads of water and are tended by our automatic water butt watering system . The herbacious borders have to survive on rainfall and the occasional top up from a watering can.

We have spent most of our time preparing the kitchen garden beds rather than setting seed so we are a bit behind with the latter. The tomatoes have just germinated in the electric incubator (in four days). I’m always dazzled by the possibility that each of these teeny seedlings might grow into large healthy plants, taller than me. And then go onto to produce a harvest of at least 3 kilos of fruit if it’s a good summer and all goes well. 

Spring is so heartening. The garden is full of buds and birds and the brightest of fresh green leaves. But the best sight of all is watching the germinating seeds perk up, unfurl, and reach up towards the light.

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  1. Just followed your link on Creative Vegetable Gardening. It’s for sale from a bookseller in US for £149.75 £2.75 P&P!!! I might give it a miss lol. I’m sure with further investigation it can be found cheaper but perhaps I’d better not investigate further – I’ve had so many new books this last 9 months there’ll be no room for more soon.

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