cabbage carnage and connundrum

I have tried to sow and grow cabbages. It simply doesn’t happen. This year, I had sown some from seed and also had some plugs. Plugs as the home made sown ones got munched on and I therefore, got very cross. Ma loves cabbages and greens. There is nothing better for home made saag, or for onion bhajis. Brassicas such as kale, go wonderfully with dinner when shredded and happen to be something of a superfood. Meaning that I want to sow them, I want them to be successful. They have their uses, but the costs of cultivating them are a whasit in the derrière.

The plugs were plugged in, in various places. Two raised beds and some open ground. Those in the raised beds, were covered in veggie mesh. All of the plugs, and the few that were home sown, all had cabbage collars. One line of preventative measure. All, were dusted with blue pellets of doom. The veggie mesh, was actually weighed down with bricks. I fully concede that was not done well, and something has still got in. Something to consider in depth and detail should I actually want to sow cabbages and brassicas with attention to detail. Definitely my own fault, you could say; most folks build a brassica cage. Now I know why.

I wandered down there today, aware that there was something green under the veggie mesh. Also aware, that most of it was gnarled and gnawed upon to pieces and resembled filligreed net curtains. I made the journey down to the plot, thinking that I have to put various cabbages and things out of their misery. And to be fair, I did. Those that had been reduced to nothing more than stalks. But I was stopped in my tracks, secateurs in hand from further snipping. There are many that have been chomped on. But there are others, that are starting to heart up, and don’t look so close to meeting their maker.

As you can see from the pictures, it is a very big green mess. A melee of cabbages-I don’t tend to follow the planting distances, though, i should-and at first sight it’s not pretty. I am inclined therefore, to leave them alone. Wait a while, to see what actually comes off.  Thing is, they might get munched on even more…..

Once in a blue moon

Blue moon rose
Blue moon rose


Over the summer, all the post roses flourished and flowered. A majority of them flowered more than once. However, there was one particular bloom that adopted something of a nonchalant attitude in comparison to it’s bedfellows. That would be blue moon. I was somewhat disheartened by this creature. First of all, because it is lilac and not blue. A sort of sappy lavender. Second. it gave all of two flowers and then decided to give up the ghost. It simply could not rouse itself to do anything else.


So I left it alone. Whilst the others, have bloomed, gone back to sleep, been dead headed and cut down. I didn’t fancy cutting this guy down. Especially as he had formed a few new flower buds. I would have gladly, taken my secateurs to him. Lopped him down. Only that seemed a bit sad. He was trying to make an effort. And here he is today. Blue, lilac, smudges peeking through the bud leaves. It’s dark, desolate and December, but I don’t think that Blue moon actually cares.

Early sowing Experimental Chillies

Chillies and bell peppers are known to have a rather long time in growing and cropping. So there are those who believe that the earlier the seeds are sown, the greater the chance of a bigger bounty. That is if you can get the seedlings to germinate within the confines of  a heated propagator.  In the past, I have used my heated prop, and seeds have indeed cracked and germinated. However, these babies have soon keeled over with a lack of heat and light. Perhaps my own naivete too.

There has been far greater success not using a heated magic seed growing box. So I am taking this route, even for early experimental chillies.  This year, I made two sowings. The first was in January, and these did keel over for want of a warm hug. A A few of these were rescued, and sat next to a second sowing made in February. Without a heated prop. And nestled amongst white paper, as I thought this might act as a heat trap. When all it did was reflect the heat up through the bottom of the yoghurt pots. Useful, when chillies require bottom heat to crack the seed. At least that was my logic…that the heat would be trapped in the box and help keep them warm.

Anyway, post Christmas, early sowing of chillies. I have done this before, a boxing day sowing. If only I knew then, what I know now. Perhaps they would have survived.

Sown today:

  1. Nigel’s outdoor chilli
  2. California Wonder Sweet pepper
  3. Pretty Purple rainbow Chilli
  4. Hot Th^i chilli
  5. Hot patio Sizzle
  6. Cayenne
  7. Early Jalapeño

With the exception of the early jalapeño, six seeds of each have been sown into yoghurt pots. So each yoghurt pot, has been filled with dampish soil and three seeds each in a triangle. Each pot has then been encased within a foodbag, sealed and labelled with the name of the variety. Positioned then onto a warm window sill. There is a distinct lack of warm window sills in the absence of a classroom as used previously.

There is little guarantee that any of these actually germinate. Chilli seeds are notoriously stubborn, and will generally require a heated propogater. It could therefore be, that my previous good fortune has been nothing but fluke. I have deliberately chosen the varieties sown. In that this year, these were actually quite successful, and having an early jump on the growing could be potentially beneficial.

The Pretty purple rainbow chilli, early jalepeno would have to be the biggest surprises, and were the second sowing in Feb. A point to note, was the hot patio sizzle. This particular variety did take it’s time. A later fruiter, in that it was easily August before it fruited, and then it was fruiting abundantly September when many of it’s poly tunnel comrades were ready to give up the ghost. In addition, I  had plucked  some of the the fruits off in the their pale yellow phase, and on putting them in ma’s kitchen in a glass bowl; observed them starting to change colour. Though they had actually just started to turn on the plant.


Below, you have green nigel outdoor chilli and the lovely pretty purple rainbow chillies. It was only later, when these had been moved back into my classroom, that the rainbow bit actually happened.


And the jalepenos found themselves in a bit of a jam.

jalepenos and sweet pepers
jalepenos and sweet pepers

So there are high hopes for these seeds sown to day. And the slim possibility that they will then go on to reside in the poly tunnel. The next plan, is to sow superhots, namely the dorset naga and a few habeneros in late January early February.


Here’s hoping!


Mer’Christmas folks

With the run up to Christmas, Ukstorm2013 batters the sceptred isles. Two days of wind and rain has caused widespread disruption, and sadly there are many people who are struggling to get home with flights and rail travel being affected.

Being happily ensconced at home with the family, I am really quite fortunate. The height of my fears with the turbulent weather, has been whether or not the poly tunnel or wendy take flight. In the past, when there has been 50 mph hour winds there has been definite carnage with the wendy house being reduced to a carcass.

And this year with the raising of the poly, one has to don the red wellingtons and make sure that both of the structures are still there. The site is something of  a wind trap, and poly tunnel covers have been known to go flying and off onto the horizon. The walk down the very boggy, very damp pathway is always fraught with anxiety. Looking up and getting blinded by sun; you have to squint to make sure that you can still see the two green structures.

Today, the path was soggy. The wendy and poly were there. Cold but bright. So very desolate and damp looking. Noticed a lot of puddles, where the plot is shallow. There may be some onion patches that get sacrificed because of that.

Tomorrow is of course the big day. The turkey crown is brought, as are the Brussels. The single solitary contribution to this years dinner is two parsnips from Aunty tish’s plot. The possible plan, is to sow some boxing day experimental chillies. Not sure which ones yet, but only just a few.

Have a happy, joy filled Christmas what ever you do. Be safe, and stay warm.


There are plenty of seed catalogues to flick through!

Taking chances

It pained me to have tidied up the poly, and then have nothing in there. My original intention had been to leave it empty; but this pulled at the heart strings.


There is not an awful lot that can be sown at this time of year; making this altogether more frustrating. I already have broadbeans and garlic sunk. And there are baby onion seedlings, sown in the Wendy house. So I rummaged around the seedstasher, and thought about taking some chances. 


Have faffed around, sinking the following:


Cosmic purple carrots

Rainbow chard

Medina spinach

Alexandra peas

Purple king fagiolo nano

Lollo Rosso


I could have sank some beetroot and other additional lettuce leaves. Only the wind was picking up and it the temperature was staring to drop. It was as rather nippy 8 degrees in the poly today. Only in the last few moments, dark clouds are setting to gather. 


Not quite sure if any of what has been down today will actually come off. Not everything requires high temperatures; the lettuce for instance. It was nice to potter in the poly, actually and marvel at just how much space is in there. That’s not to say I’m going to turn it into a forest of botanical proportions. I could imagine how it might look with chillies, tomatoes and aubergines. It would me rather interesting to get aubergines in that. Perhaps a melon. The poly looks a bit sad right now, and it might get a bit cheered up with the bits that have been sown today. 

Tidy up time at the winter solstice

Today is the winter solstice, and the darkness will soon descend as the afternoon draws to a close. The shortest day of the year, means you have to move a bit sharpish if you plan to do anything useful.

The inside of the poly tunnel has been on my mind for some time. All very untidy, and with grass sprouting up. This morning, on the second day of the Christmas holidays, I donned my red wellingtons and coat and wandered down to the plot. I had also, in rummaging in pop’s shed, found some bulbs that I forgotten about. A few crocus, alliuem and daffodils. Managed to dib in a few crocus before mama H arrived and told me to get home. Her reasoning being that I was the only there and no one was faffing on their plots.

Anyway, the purpose of today’s visit was tidy the polytunnel. The green edifice of all year growing. Sprouting grass is not all that attractive. Thankfully, most of the sprouting grass could be pulled and plunked up without taking clumps of earth up. The rest was decapitated by a three edged ‘oe, Also helped aerate the soil a bit.  Still looked a bit weary inside. The morrison’s buckets that had once held the chillies and bells were emptied out on top. Spent compost by way of refreshing it.  The polytunnel now looks like a blank canvass. if i think about it, and have a root around in the seed stasher. There are has to be something that can be scattered into soil.

What for thou, Wendy?


This is the view of the greenhouse, also known as the wendy house, from late this summer. The foreground has been tidied up since, and that rampant dandelion cut down a little.

At the moment, the wendy houses some baby lyon prize winner leeks as well as some aisla craig onion seedlings. To be perfectly frank, I have only looked into the greenhouse once or twice recently. My main concern has been that it remains standing. There has been a lot turbulent weather  of late, and it is due to get worse with the coming festivities.

I really must make more use of it over the new growing season. Especially as it had a face lift with a new cover. A more robust cover in comparison to the one that it came with. This is the third one, since the previous two were torn to ribbons due to inclement weather. Such covers should really have reinforced zipped covers. Hopefully, this third one will be last a lot longer. My problem is that I have the best of intentions. Seeds to be sown, in modules and then I don’t follow things up or have a distinct process. In not having any window sills, it is further important that I use the wendyhouse for germination and cultivation. Have never had much luck with brassicas in the wendy house, that was for certain. Especially with the process of potting things on. There is actually limited space in the wendy, four shelves, and it takes some jigglying around to get things positioned properly. As was observed when it housed the Chilli plants over the summer.

What I need to think about, is what can be sown in the wendy house that doesn’t particularly need warmth? Lettuce and brassicas are what comes to mind immediately. Though lettuce doesn’t transplant all that well. I have never actually managed to transplant lettuce easily anyway. I did have a vague thought to modularise parsnip this year. Another vegetable, that I have never had any success with.


plotting for the poly


Evening all, the first day of the Christmas holidays has me in a reflective mood; trying to figure out what to do next on the plot. The weatherman has just forecast a very wet, windy and turbulent festive period. Leading me to think about making plans without venturing outside and getting soaked to the skin.

The whole plot does required tidying. Winds and rain has tossed around bits and pieces as though they were flotsam and jetsam. That can be easily remedied in just walking around and putting things back in their places. The nature of the wind, the buffeting on the windows always makes feel ill at unease. It would sad, if either the wendy house or poly took flight as though some farmhouse in kansas. The allotment site is windy, and things have been known to take flight before. So always unsettling to hear the wind whistle and then moan.

The inside of the poly does require tidying as well, Since it was raised, it has merely house pots of chillies. There wasn’t, sadly, a plan to start filling it over the winter. There was, a hope that it would actually survive the winter, and I could then focus in the growing season in terms of planting and growing. A notion, that set about when sorting out the seed stasher. Established that I have lots of cress and basil seeds, not likely to sow them. All freebies, actually. Perhaps suited to a loving home. As well as lots of black cherry tomato seeds. Enough to cultivate a small forest. Didn’t have a vast variety of them, as I had thought. This year, the tomato crop was prolific. Fruit didn’t go red on the vine, but it was bumper crop. Good use was made of them all. I didn’t label any, so that makes it difficult to consider what I should or shouldn’t think about sowing. Since I didn’t have a poly when these were being cultivated,all of the tomato plants were planted without cover and in raised beds. The question then being, what shall I plant in the poly. I am not likely to sow seed directly. There is a mistrust here, of slugs and such like. Critters knibbled on the potted chillies, which rather brassed me off to be entirely honest. I have no sympathy for the creature that gnarled through the jalapeños.  That, my friends, is called karma.

Mother has had word with me, about the number of plants I sow. Don’t sow so many, being the long and short of it. The only concession that I make, is that I tend to get carried away, and not all seeds might germinate.

With the polytunnel, I am hamstrung by the size. It is not massive. A nice neat size of 3m x 2m. Inside, there is a wooden plank down the middle-the one pops constructed, remember-leaving a horseshoe shaped space to sow things into. I would like to cultivate plants so that they are at least 8-10 inches high, whatever they might be, before sinking them into the ground of the poly tunnel. There might have to be the blue pellets of doom, by way of preventative measure.

Must get the inside of the polytunnel weeded though. Being warm and light inside, there is a fair bit of grass that needs to be removed. A process that might involve the inside actually being dug over once more, and each offending blade being painstakingly removed. That plays on my mind, in making sure that I have an adequate canvas to play with. It’s also a bit grubby on the inside, watery tidemarks that need to be wiped down.

Other than tomatoes, I have a list of things that I would like to dabble with. As observed in a previous post, I would like to grow some superhot chillies. So chillies and peppers will feature, hopefully. Again, despite what Mama H has said. A re-match with Aubergines too, having failed to get a single fruit last year. We had lots pretty lilac flowers, but not a lot else. Cucumbers are a potential, though I only have the outdoor variety at the moment. May have to look into that. And melon. Something that may require a structural investigation, as they require a bit of support.


And all in the confines of 3m x 2m.  Defying the laws of physics, and turning the poly into the tardis. The inside, being bigger than the outside.


Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

hangin’ in for the ‘ot stuff

I have had many adventures to date when it comes to growing chilli peppers. This year was by far the most productive and therefore successful experience. Many different varieties were sown, from long yellow ones, round purple ones and small, stumpy ones with a hell of a kick. Now, I would like to step things up a little. Just a little.

And make a foray into super hot chillies. One of the reasons why was of the course the production this year of chilli jelly. A happy bonus from the crop. A learning point from this, was to wear gloves when chopping up jalapeños. That was painful. So with the agony, there has to be a balance of ecstasy.

In shuffling through the seedstasher, I was able to audit the chillies that I have. I had thought that there were dozens of seed packets. Not so, so I have gone a little seed crazy. Today, the post man and santa claus-one these exists-brought me envelopes of seeds. I have settled on the Dorset naga amongst others, and some habaneros. Now,  these things are only available from They know what they are talking about!

I have opted for a vast array of superhots, and must mention that there also quite a few habaneros from So credit it to both of these lovely people.

Cast your eyes over this

I have heard lots about this, and the dorset naga has something of a cult following. A search on the interweb yields lots of interesting stories of it being cultivated.

I’m all set, but I have my worries. I have experimented with germination. Having sown them in the heated prop, and also in an unheated prop or yoghurt pots on a warm window sill. The unheated ones have always come up quicker and then done well. Superhots are something of an experiment. 27 degrees C is required, and light. Ardent growers, fashion grow lamps. i am not that clever!


(As I write this, there is a proper gale blowing and blustering outside….hope the poly and wendy are all right….)


I will be happier, once they have germinated and look like small baby chilli plants. At least a couple of leaves, with a stalk. This seems a very delicate, and detailed process. And for some chilli heads, this is the norm!

And to think mama H told me not to sow too many seeds…..