Garden: The State of Play

Initially I had only planned to grow runner beans, courgettes, and potatoes, but things have escalated since then. The focus has always been on growing plants from seed�to the extent that seed-potatoes can be considered seeds at all�and that is still the case, but a couple of months ago I found myself ordering 11 different varieties of seed in a single order. Mission-creep to a large degree.

The potatoes were the first to be planted. I chitted them on my dining room table, in a tray formed from part of what was definitely not a seagull trap. There are three varieties growing: 'Swift', 'Wilja', and 'Charlotte'. I planted 5 'Swift' tubers out in a single grow-sack in mid-Feburary, followed by the other two varieties�each in their own grow-sacks�two weeks later.

Potatoes in grow sacks

I started off my runner beans and courgettes in pots in my spare bedroom. I probably started too early though, as the runner beans soon became unmanageable, so there was still a risk of frost by the time they really needed to go out. Ironically, it was not the cold that was the problem, but the sun. Within a day or so of being put out, the leaves of the runner beans (and of the first courgette plant that I put out at the same time) had gone white from sun damage. I removed the dead leaves, and some of the plants have recovered well. Others I have had to replace with plants from the next batch of beans�planted in pots indoors as soon as the first batch went out.

I am growing two varieties of runner beans�'Firestorm' and 'Stardust'�which I have planted out in a container outside. I constructed a wigwam support for the beans using 8 bamboo poles, and have planted a bean plant at the base of each of the poles�alternating the variety of bean so that (hopefully) the red and white flowers are evenly distributed.

Runner beans

I am growing two courgette plants in a trough container. The first of these, of the 'Tuscany' variety, was planted out at the same time as the beans, and so suffered some sun damage, but now seems to be doing fine. The second plant, of the 'Lemona' variety, took longer to germinate, and as such was planted out later and so is the smaller plant in the photo below. Having learned from my mistakes, the 'Lemona' plant was hardened off gradually, and so did not suffer any sun damage.

Courgette plants

Wanting to expand my operation, I then acquired some bare root strawberry plants, of the 'Cambridge Favourite' variety. The plants arrived in an envelope, and consisted almost entirely of root, with only a few small dried leaves on each plant crown. After planting out, and watering well, however, the plants grew quickly, and a couple of them even have flowers.


4 of the 10 strawberry plants are planted in a trough at the back of the garden. I also have 1 plant in a temporary container, whilst I find a suitable permanent home for it. I gave away the remaining 5 plants, as I did not have space for them.

Away from fruit and veg, I have also been sowing seeds in my front garden. After clearing one of the beds, I sowed poppy and sunflower seeds.

A packet of poppy seeds alleges that it contains 1000 seeds, and I have now sown all of these. I did three separate sowings, each two weeks apart. The hope is that this will prevent the poppies from all flowering at the same time, so that there will be at least some flowers present for a prolonged period of time. The poppies are Papaver commutatum, of the 'Ladybird' cultivar.

In amongst the poppies, I have planted a row of sunflower seeds. The seeds came from a mixed packet, so I will need to wait and see exactly what they will look like. They should, in theory though, grow 180cm tall.

Sunflowers and poppies

In another bed, I have sown a row of fennel. Fennel is a perennial herb, though it is often grown as a annual vegetable for its bulb. I have not yet decided if I will harvest these, or let them remain�fennel leaves and seeds are both edible, and can be harvested from fennel plants that are grown as perennial herbs. I may harvest some of the bulbs though, simply because I will probably have too many of them. Currently I am still waiting for the fennel to germinate.

Finally, I have also been growing various flowers and herbs from seed. These are the seeds that I ordered as part of the 11-seed order that I mentioned earlier. I will talk more of these in future blog posts.

Flower seedlings