Saturday, 28 April 2012

Seedling protection

First, an apology for my low profile in the blogging world over the last few days. A combination of factors has prevented me visiting or commenting on other blogs: Jane is away from home for a few days, supporting her mother who has been sick; our daughter Emma is due to deliver her second baby any time now; and I have been commuting to London for work purposes.

Gardeners are ingenious people, and experience shows that it's usually worth going to a fair bit of trouble if you want to preserve your little plants from damage inflicted both by weather and by animals.

This is a view of one of my raised beds, in which I am growing parsnips and beetroot. I divided the bed into two sections, each of 1.2 metres, which is half the length of the bed, and approximately the length of the "Longrow" cloches I have. I sowed seeds in one half about a month before the other half, with the idea being to stagger the harvest period.

The seeds in the part of the bed furthest from the camera have not yet germinated, but they are being warmed and protected from animal damage by the cloches. NB: It is necessary to remove the cloche and water the soil occasionally, to stop it getting too dry.

Meanwhile, in the part of the bed nearest the camera, the parsnip and beetroot seedlings are now a couple of inches tall and no longer need protection from the weather. On the other hand they are still very vulnerable to damage by animals (in my case foxes and cats), so I have protected them with a piece of chicken wire held in place with some pegs. The relative rigidity of the wire means I have been able to bend it in such a way as to keep it above the tops of the seedlings.



The other day I thinned-out the beetroot. You know, don't you, that each knobbly little beetroot "seed" is actually a cluster of 5 or 6 seeds? When they germinate it is best to remove all but the strongest one from each cluster, to allow room for expansion. [You can of course leave them all in place, but you will just get a clump of much smaller roots.]. I didn't want to waste all the thinnings, so I re-planted some of the best ones between the two rows, so I have now effectively got three rows.

My Broad Beans and peas are still under a net, although they are getting towards the stage when they will be big enough to look after themselves:

I recently put in six tall hardwood stakes, which are currently supporting the net, but in due course will have string attached to them, for supporting the beans.

The Shallots and Garlic are also under a net - again to thwart the foxes, rather than to provide protection against the elements. If you're thinking "there's a lot of spare net", it's because I sometimes use this net over some much higher posts, so I don't want to cut it. I just weigh down the excess with some spare bricks.

Nothing to do with crop-protection, but here's a couple of pics of my "reserves" of shallots and garlic, planted in pots and kept ready in case of the need to replace casualties:

Shallots "Jermor"

It's beginning to look as if I won't need the spares, so I shall just grow them on in those pots and see how they do.

Here are the Brassica seedlings, waiting to be planted out in a few days' time - still in pots so that they can be moved under cover to protect them from the worst of the weather:

Brussels Sprouts, Green Cabbage and Red Cabbage

I read a lovely thing in the paper this week: "...I am sitting indoors listening to the drought lashing against our wind-panes".   The start of our water restrictions on 5 April was the cue for the start of one of the wettest periods for a very long time! We have been told that even if rains from now until December, the hosepipe ban will remain in place. What a depressing thought.


  1. Mark you have a spectacular garden. I can hardly wait until mine looks more bountiful--probably in another month.


  2. Your garden's looking great Mark. Fortunately I haven't had any issues with foxes or cats yet, although our dog does 'wander' where he shouldn't occassionally. I think it will be different at the allotment which is very close to Bentley Wood the largest area of woodland locally so deer will be frequent visitors.

  3. Hi Mark,

    All the best with your family and travels and best wishes for impending grandparenthood-again!

    Regarding the garden.

    At least I am spared netting my plants as in 11 years I’ve only seen one fox in the garden despite being surrounded by a wood. Having almost all the veg in pots/containers means they are safe from damage from passing cats too...Now all I have to worry about is squirrels, slugs, snails and the odd wandering lost sheep...

  4. I hate having to cover and net everything but I realise that protection is necessary, at least in the beginning. All your seedlings are looking very healthy - sadly, mine have yet to make a show.

  5. You are far ahead of my - the allotments are waterlogged and it's windy and cold too!

    But crops have a way of flourishing in a great rush when the weather improves don't they

    Congratulations on another grandchild

  6. This year I don't have my peas covered. I might regret that. Usually the birds come in and then I decide to do something about it a bit late. But we seem to have a pair of mocking birds living close and they are keeping the mobs of sparrows away.

  7. If your seedings are anything to go by Mark, spring has certainly sprung in your neck of the woods! Hope Jane comes home soon and that all goes well with your daughter's imminent new arrival! lol x

  8. Wow!

    Looking great!

    I would definately leave the reserves and just wait and see what happens!!

  9. Life just gets in the way doesn't it? I'm so impressed with your garden Mark. It's just been so wet here we've hardly been able to get out there although the pak choi you sent me is doing well. I just thinned it out today. I also notice my beetroot is starting to show so thanks for the tip! We also staked out our broad beans but then the rain poured down. By the way we're having terrible problems with rabbits who are eating all the lupin leaf. Any non-lethal suggestions?

  10. It sounds like you're having a hectic time just now, but then life seems to be like that...always lots happening. Commuting to London must be such fun!

    Your garden looks like you'll be in for some great home produce soon Mark. Everything sprouting AND the sun's shining! :D
    I'm still picking my beans and my garlic looks just like your's, so I'm happy.

    Best wishes for the safe arrival of your 2nd grandchild and Jane's return...Good Luck Gramps ;D

  11. All this protection has reminded me that I must get some snail traps sorted out - my peas are getting very nibbled.

  12. Congratulations on the new grandbaby to be! And I do hope Jane's mother is better soon. You have been missed! I can't imagine doing all the traveling you do and still getting things done. I am definitely a "home-body" type of person.

  13. I had a trip to my allotment yesterday morning, in between the rain, and not one of my beetroot have germinated. Yours are looking very healthy as are your parsnips. Hope your mother-in-law is on the mend and hope your new grandchild makes a quick appearance. Lara must be so excited.

  14. Hi Mark, sending positive thoughts for the smooth and happy event of a new grand-baby! You have no idea how much I would just like to fly over and spend a day with you to learn all I can about starting veg from seed and subsequent care for them. Sigh. I suppose I'll have to make due with your blog :) cheers, Jenni

  15. Congratulations on the impending arrival! And a speedy recovery to your MIL.


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