You’re desperate to sow seeds, right?
I know. I feel it too.
Winter is a long season for a kitchen gardener. The December festivities provide a distraction for a time but when the New Year breaks, the yearning to sow and grow builds into a desperate urge, an overwhelming itch that demands a scratch.
This experience is a positive sentiment. It’s a product of our passion to garden. A cry from our soul to engage in what we love and I feel fortunate to suffer its frustrations.
Rare is it useful to sow seeds early. In many cases, it requires the provision of artificial sources of heat and light which can be both expensive and inconvenient.
Without such intervention, you end up with leggy and weak plants that may fail from poor health. The plants sown later catch up and that isn’t a practice of efficiency.
I’ve faced the hard lesson from sowing my seeds too early more times than I’d like to admit. Every year I make a promise to be patient and yet, in the latter part of winter, I catch myself staring through the kitchen window thumbing a seed packet… or three.
I’ve discussed at length the influence Charles Dowding’s books have had on the way I garden. His experience of growing fruit and vegetables, shared through his books and videos, is more than the simple act of not digging.
It’s a wide-ranging methodology that utilises sustainability and natural processes, which deliver both environmentally and resource-efficient practices for growing fruit and vegetables.
In his Veg Journal, Charles provides month by month no-dig advice. If like me you spend a significant amount of time staring at seed packets, scratching your head and wondering when to sow the seeds for all that veg you hope to grow on the plot each year, this marvellous book also provides a list of crops to sow in each month.
And wouldn’t you know it? There’s even a selection of crops suitable for sowing right now.
The key word is suitable.
The second half of February has provided us with one positive factor for sowing seed. The benefit of light.
On the 16th of the month, the light levels increased to 10 hours each day. However, as you will no doubt feel, the temperatures are still very low.
If you are to get your hit of sowing seed and not suffer any detrimental effect, it’s important you sow the seed of crops that will actually germinate in this cooler period, that can capitalise on the levels of daylight we now receive and go on to become strong and healthy plants.
Seeds you can sow undercover now
1. Broad beans
King of the crops when it comes to hardiness. Many people sow broad beans directly in the ground during the autumn which allows the beans to overwinter, develop strong roots and go on to provide an earlier crop.
February is another opportunity to sow broad beans. It’s likely to be too cold and wet for most of us to sow them outside, but if it’s dry enough it is possible.
I’ve sown some broad beans into toilet roll tubes. They’re in the unheated greenhouse in my garden. I’ll harden the plants off before putting them out in their final growing position on the allotment garden in the spring.
2. Sweet peas
If like me and growing flowers on the allotment this year, then here’s another hardy plant to sow now.
Sweet peas are annuals and can be sown in the spring. However, as with sowing the seeds in October and in January, a February sowing enables the plants to develop strong roots, put on some early growth and provide larger plants to set out in the garden.
I’ve not had much luck with cauliflowers. However, I’m excited to try again this year and especially as Dobies have provided with me some seeds of the exciting, yellow variety Cheddar to grow on the plot this year.
I think the colour of di Sicilia violetto is incredible too but there’s also the old favourite All The Year Round, which is what I’m sowing into trays in the mini greenhouse right now.
What an incredible plant. The huge amount of dark green spinach just a few plants provided for us last year amazed me. Seriously, it was quite a monster. Hardy and high yielding. Picking a few glorious, flavoursome leaves every few days kept us in spinach for weeks.
Spinach tends to bolt in the heat of the summer, which is why sowing some seeds now and growing the plants on in the relative cooler period of the year means it will flourish and you can reap the rewards.
Ok, here’s the thing. Chillies don’t fall into the same cool season crop category as the ones above. However, they do require a long growing season to mature and provide a high yield of fruit.
I sowed some chillies in late January and they have performed remarkably well. In fact, I’ve just potted the little plants on into slightly bigger living conditions.
Sowing chillies in February is a way to balance their need for a long growing season and the increasing levels of light. Before you do, heed Andrew O’Brien’s advice.
Bonus: You can also try sowing early cabbages, lettuce and parsley.
What do you think? Are you or have you sown any seeds yet? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, I’d love if you would share it using the buttons below.
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