Cape Gooseberry

Hurrah! Almost given up on the cape gooseberry seeds planted a couple of weeks ago. A stray weed seedling that popped up within a couple of days fooled me into believing that was it, and the rest of the seeds had failed. But no, here they all come pushing their heads up through the compost.

The seeds were a gift from a fellow allotmenteer last year. How could he refuse me after I'd drooled over his strange and exotic plant with papery pods and bright orange fruit? Now I'll have about fifty. But that's good... I can give some away to friends and family and gain swap credits in the process.

They're such an attractive looking plant. Even better, the fruit are delicious to eat. Here's an image of what I'm looking forward to.

It's crunch time...

First of the salad vegetables planted out. Arctic lettuce, grown from seed on the magic study windowsill. As usual, sown far too many. Good to get something fresh and green on the plot.

Even better to come, though. Managed to get lettuce seeds for the rare Brown Goldring lettuce from friends. The plants grow strongly throughout the year with sweet and very crisp leaves. Make space for more seed trays on the windowsill!

And they're off!

Here are the tomato seeds after a couple of weeks on the magic study windowsill. Last year started them in February, which was wayyyyyyyyyy too early. Ended up leggy since not enough light indoors and couldn't risk the greenhouse.

So this year I've planted half early March, and will try the rest early April. See which works best.

If you're wondering, the tomatoes are being kept company by sweet peas and stocks.

Gold plated tomato seeds

Every season I start with good intentions to save my own seeds and beans. Getting much better at it. But an abortive attempt to buy new supplies of tomato seeds has give me new resolve. £2.99 for a packet of 7 seeds? Is that a joke?

A bit messy saving tomato seeds. Have to remove them from the pulp and allow to dry on tissue. Small inconvenience to avoid daylight robbery. The alternative is to leave a few rotten fruit in the ground. Seedlings will sprout up in late spring the following year. Tomatoes grow like weeds if you let them.

Ended up with two packets, Red Cherry and Gardener's Delight. Twenty seeds in each for 89p a packet from the local West End Stores DIY shop.

To read a full lowdown on how to grow tomatoes, click here.

Gold plated willow wands

Wandering around the garden centre yesterday, noted the latest must-have thing is a pot of willow wands. Tastefully scattered everywhere. Varying heights, the one above being the smallest. Think the idea is they give a bit of greenery on the patio.

Hate to think what will happen if the uninitiated bung them in the border. Once willows establish themselves they take over everything. Shoots spring up from the base at an amazing rate. And the tree will grow to 50 feet if left to its own devices. Even in a pot, it'll take a bit of maintenance to keep a good shape. Will need to trim side shoots away at least monthly.

The most shocking thing was the price. For the smallest pot... £14.99! I'm going to do a DIY version for nothing. A wander in the countryside and I'll soon find a willow tree full of spouting wands. Watch this space.

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