It’s sow time

First sowings of 2015, covered with vermiculite

First sowings of 2015, covered with vermiculite

The barren rocky landscape above is a close-up of my first sowings of 2015.  Today in these tiny modules I’ve sown chillis and peppers, which need the longest season possible here in northern England. If you can guarantee some warmth – and I’m using a gently heated propagator – then there’s no such thing as sowing peppers too early: January is perfect.

This year my hopes are pinned on:

  • Kaibi Round: a smallish block-shaped red pepper. I grew it two years ago and while not prolific, the fruits were sweet, fleshy and delicious.
  • Semaroh: a long sweet pepper, originally from Czechoslovakia. This one’s new to me but pictures on-line show wildly colourful fruits, which can be red, orange and yellow at the same time. I can’t wait to see these come through.
  • Early Jalapeño chillis: an old favourite which performed well last year.

I’ve sown some red-leaved basil and celery too. Covering everything with a thin layer of vermiculite will prevent moss, be very easy for the seedlings to push up through and will keep some warmth in the seed compost underneath.

Unfortunately on a bitterly cold day like today, there were some pressing outdoor jobs to do.

Strawberry plants ready to go outside

Strawberry plants ready to go outside

Firstly I had a box of  strawberry plants to plant.  These are a variety called Buddy and the supplier says they’re the variety used by Sainsbury’s supermarket for their ‘Taste the Difference’ range, so I hope they’ll do well.

Strawberries planted out into pots

Strawberries planted out into pots

They’re very hardy by all accounts and won’t mind the frost and potentially snow which we’re promised for the coming weeks.  Looking close-up they’ve very much alive, with new shoots coming through.

Strong strawberry shoots coming through

Strong strawberry shoots coming through

Elsewhere it was now or never for pruning the grape vines which trail along the west-facing garden fence.  I’d neglected to trim off last year’s growth until now and leaving it any later would have risked cutting into the first growth of 2015.

Last year's growth on one of the grape vines

Last year’s growth on one of the grape vines

Trimming the straggly branches off with secateurs didn’t take long at all and I ended up with a nice pile of cuttings.

Useful vine branches and the trimmed vines in the background

Useful vine branches and the trimmed vines in the background

I’ve piled the branches up on the bed where I’ll be growing peas and mangetout later in the year. A few of them pushed in the ground will make great supports for the peas to cling to as they climb.

The branches also attracted the attention of our neighbourhood robin, who visits several times a day and will happily come very close, hoping to be fed worms or even just posing for photographs!

A cute little visitor

A cute little visitor

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