Peas threaten to ‘walk’ & the leek seedlings get ahead of themselves.

I’ve done it again! I’ve got enthusiastic about getting an early start with my spring plantings by chitting early peas, broad beans & leeks, but…. I then had to get on with the rest of my life, like work & boring things like attempts at housework (hate it!). So, what’s happened? Remember those chitted peas I mentioned in an earlier post that didn’t get planted? Well, I’ve JUST got them into root trainers now-I feel like a neglectful parent who has been found forcing their child to eat cold porridge. Honestly, though,  how many of you (oh, there IS just you?) start a gardening task & don’t finish it quite how it ‘ought’ to be done?

Whatever the drawbacks of allowing your seeds to chit & then grow roots before you plant them out, they’re in their pots now all snuggled up in the kitchen extension & I will monitor how well or otherwise they do over the next few months. The Broad Beans have all emerged & are ready to go into the cold frame on the allotment before planting out, probably under fleece to help them maintain a head start.

'escaped' Piccolo Provenzale early peas

the leek seeds I sowed on 9th January are now over 1″ tall & just need popping in the cold frame for a couple of weeks before planting out into the seed bed to grow on before transplanting into the leek bed – I had them wrapped in bubble wrap by a cold French window (North facing) – it took them 10 days before the 1st seeds germinated. I’ve checked  the time/temperature guidelines for germination of  leek seeds: It can take up to 21 days to germinate leek & onion seeds, within the temperature range of 7-24ºC (45-75ºF); I don’t reckon the seedtray was warmer than @ 10ºC, but there was a full moon on 19th Jan & I have noted that sowing before a full moon does seem to affect germination rates (comments on your own experience of this, or scepticism equally welcome). What I welcome is a full seed tray of leek seedlings, in contrast to last year when they failed to germinate at all, probably too cold (I didn’t wrap them).

Pandora & Carentan Leek seedlings 27.1.11

Feeling happy at seed productivity & early start – just have to ensure nothing eats them once in the coldframe then the vegetable beds on the allotment – a dangerous time for seedlings!

Early peas ‘in waiting’!

The early peas, Piccolo Provencale, that I soaked & chitted along with the Aquadulce Broad Beans mentioned in my last post, have ‘escaped’ & are looking more like young Triffids! I ran out of root trainers, but couldn’t get to the garden centre until yesterday. Consequently I’ve only just managed to sow most of them this evening. I know, I shouldnt have allowed the seeds to develop such long root systems, but how often do you do something you’re not *really* supposed to in your garden/allotment? Sometimes, no matter how organised you are, your seeds just don’t get sown/ seedlings don’t get planted out when they ‘ought to’ – live with the consequences, learn from the experience.  I often find my chitted bean/pea seeds don’t get sown when the  should but they still produce strong plants once I get them into modules. Just go with it & don’t worry  too much about what you ‘ought’ to do. Just get a ‘feel’ for what might work for you & your situation.

Here’s a picture of the ‘escaped’ chitted seeds liberated from their kitchen towel – i’ll let you know how they progress, but I hope to be able to plant out by late February. Last year I didn’t get started with my pea crops until late February. I soaked & chitted the 1st seeds on 25/26th February (same cv), into guttering in our cold frame on the allotment by mid March, into the ground mid April, flowered mid May, pods by mid June. By starting over a month earlier I hope to bring everything forward by at least 2 wks. I’ll keep a note & let you know if I’ve succeeded.

The seeds are our own, saved from last year’s early pea crop, seeds originally from Seeds of Italy, who I would recommend because of both the quality & amount of seed you are sent. There are approximately 100 chitted seeds in this picture. New moon on 4th January, seeds soaked overnight of the 5th, drained into a pot lined with kitchen towel to chit on 6th, root radicles emerging on 7th. Sown in root trainers this evening, 16th January.

early peas-chitted seed-Piccolo Provencale 16.1.11

MidWinter sowings

I decided to get a head start with our spring plantings this week, particularly as there was a new moon last Tuesday (4th) & I sow by moon cycles where possible. Sow leaf crops during a waxing moon, root crops during a waning moon – will aim to post on moon planting sometime, but if you have any experience of this, or thoughts on the idea, please post a comment.

As we don’t sow early  Broad Beans in autumn due to rats/squirrels digging them up, I tend to chit & sow them as early in the new year as I can (when I remember, that is!). I put @ 60 Aquadulce Broad Bean seeds in to soak on the 3rd, then drained into a sandwich box with barely damp kitchen towel on the 5th – in a plastic bag , clipped to stop flies, & left them on a cool shelf. The root radicles began to emerge on the 6th. Today(9th), I planted them all out into root  trainers & have left them, covered, in our kitchen extension, essentially a cold greenhouse. Will post pictures when they begin to emerge.

I also sowed some summer leeks-Pandora & Carentan, in modules-once they emerge I’ll transplant them into a seed bed on the allotment & cover with blue builders’ netting. My intention is to plant them out into the early Potato bed once the potatoes are cleared, then follow them with early Broad Beans next spring 2012, so maintaining rotation sequence.

I’ve @ 100 early pea seeds also chitting (Piccolo Provence, originally from Seeds of Italy, but our own saved seed from 2010) but I’ve no more root trainers, so off to buy some this week. Again, will post pictures once they emerge. I intend sowing all our peas in root trainers this year because of an accidental experiment with them in spring 2010. I usually sow peas in guttering lined with newspaper & then popped into channels along the pea frames once the seedlings emerge. Last spring I ran out of guttering but still had nearly 2 dozen chitted peas to plant out. I planted them instead in root trainers & these plants consistently grew taller & cropped better than those sown in guttering.  You use less seed but you end up with stronger, sturdier plants that withstand pests & weather much better. Again, if I remember, I’ll take some pictures & post for you to see for yourself.

BroadBean Aquadulce, chitted seed-9.1.1