Saturday 1 March 2014

Garden Share Collective - Feb 2014

I am doing this post as my first entry to an exciting new blog-hop - The Garden Share Collective , run by Lizzie over there in Australia, so I want to begin by introducing myself to the community:

Hi! My name is Mark, and I have a small garden in a domestic setting in Fleet, Hampshire, UK, about 35 miles South of London. I have lived here since 1991, so my garden is well-established, though still constantly evolving. Until recently I concentrated mainly on growing veg (hence the title of my blog), but more and more ornamental plants are somehow creeping in. My plot is not big - approximately 10m x 10m - but I manage to produce a fair bit of stuff. Both I and my wife Jane are keen cooks, and we love to cook things grown in the garden.

Raised beds covered with cloches - February 2014

In February there is not a lot to see in my garden, since we are emerging from a long and exceptionally wet Winter, but if you look closely there are still items of interest. for instance, I have some Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants that have been growing since last Summer and are just about to produce their crop (one of my favourite vegetables):

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

I am also continuing to harvest some Endives and Chicories that have developed slowly over the Winter. I have had most of them under the cover of cloches which have protected them from the seemingly-incessant wind and rain. It is nice to have something like this in the garden that crops over a long period of time rather than all at once. It's lovely to be able to just nip out and harvest what you need for a salad at a few minutes' notice.


The last of my Parsnips were lifted at the beginning of the month, and it is already nearly time to sow some more! Again, this is a crop that will stand well in the ground for ages without deteriorating, so we tend to spin them out. Home-grown Parsnips have so much more flavour than shop-bought ones.

As regular readers will know, I often struggle to keep a sufficient supply of Parsley, so I have been particularly pleased to see mine do so well this Winter. Covering the plants with individual bell-cloches seems to be the key to success:

Parsley growing under cloches

As for sowing and planting in February, well not much of it gets done here in the UK! I sowed some Chilli seeds the other day, and most of them have germinated.

Chillis and Peppers under the lights

Even more successfully I sowed a couple of pots of Parsley and kept them indoors under the lights, and now they have been transplanted to the corners of one of the raised beds - under cloches to help them get started, you'll note.

Parsley at the corners, Chicory down the middle

I have also planted a row of Broad Beans ("Stereo"). I sowed them in little pots and kept them in my garage until they germinated and then moved them outside into one of my plastic mini-greenhouses (a constant and now indispendable feature of my plot), where they have grown into strong little seedlings. They too are now covered in long cloches to protect them in their early days. 

In the next month I expect to be planting my potatoes, which are currently sitting in some egg-boxes in the garage, chitting. I always grow my potatoes in pots and containers of various sorts, which means I can keep them under cover and thus get them off to an early start. If you want to read more about what types I will be growing, follow this link: Hampshire Potato Day.

Potatoes chitting in egg-boxes

I will also be sowing my tomato seeds. I haven't 100% decided which ones I will sow, because I have loads of them and I can't reasonably grow them all! There may well be a bit of last-minute impulsiveness involved... In any case, I am going to start them off the same way, regardless of which ones they are. They will be sown in little pots and placed in my "Growlight House" so that they have plenty of light right from the start and do not go leggy. Later in the year I will be experimenting with these cane-supports which I recently bought. They will be used with bamboo canes to support the tomato plants when I pot them up.

As I mentioned earlier, I am beginning to plant more flowers in my garden these days, and of course it is just about Spring-time now, so I'm going to end my post with a couple of pics of flowers that are at their best at the end of February:

Narcissus "Soleil d'Or"

Crocus "Tommasinianus"


  1. Ah Mark! Pleased to see that you've joined the Garden Share Collective, we need more UK blogging presence! That's so polite to introduce yourself, naughty me I didn't do that! I'm wondering how big your raised beds are - the veg patch plot is 10mx3m with paths - as I'm jumping on the broccoli bandwagon this year. It's the one veg that I eat masses of so a packet of seeds represents good value, although I know they're big plants.

    1. Caro, I have seven raised beds, each 1 metre by 2.4 metres. Of course this growing-space is augmented by some borders and a multiplicity of pots and containers.

  2. The beginning sounded like you were at one of those meetings where you confess your sins,

    1. "I am Mark. I am a reformed veggie gardener. Now I have seen the light and I grow flowers too..." :)

  3. Things look so much warmer than then where I live. I love those flowers. The edges of our snow is slowly melting back, include where my crocuses are, but more snow is in the forecast ;<

  4. I've joined too Mark although my first post is hidden behind my flowers one. Those flowers are creeping up on you aren't they!

  5. Hi Mark, I need to pick your brain again. Firstly, we are practically neighbours! I'm in Farnborough :)

    I assume your garage has windows in it? Ours was severely flooded recently so is good for nothing, but I put some broadbeans and courgettes and a variety of herbs in the conservatory and they did absolutely nothing. I brought them inside and two days later the courgettes specifically have grown about two centimetres! Does this just mean my conservatory is too cold? Also, I planted spinach a week ago, in seedling pots, and the instructions say that it should be harvest ready 2 - 6 weeks later - but if I plant it out now, will they survive? In case you're wondering, I have googled for answers, but have had no real luck. You've been an amazing inspiration to me with your garden over the last year and I've learned a lot from your blog, so thank you for that!

  6. Hi Luschka; Yes, my garage does have a window. Only one, but I don't keep a car in the garage and I have arranged a potting-bench next to the window, so it acts as a sort of conservatory - very useful! At this time of year a conservatory is probably too cold for most plants, so I'm not surprised to hear that bringing yours indoors prompted them into a growth spurt. I think you will be very lucky to get useable Spinach in as little as 2 - 6 weeks from sowing. (Unlees of course you are intending to use it as "Baby Leaf Salad", in which case it might work.) Most types of Spinach are fairly hardy but if you're planning to plant it outdoors, I recommend protecting it with a cloche.
    Sorry to hear you got flooded, btw. Our house is on a small hill, so we have been OK -so far!

  7. Hello Mark! Lots for me to learn here - I will try covering parsley and other more tender things next winter, good idea. I've also joined in the Garden Share Collective - rather nervously, as I am a relative novice in with some serious veg growers! But I'm trying all sorts of methods such as polyculture growing, no dig, permaculture etc, so my blog concentrates a bit more on those things - as well as my (many!) veg growing trials and tribulations. I've learned so much from other people's gardening blogs, it's so helpful to see what other people are up to! Best wishes, Lucy

  8. That purple sprouting broccoli is the healthiest specimen I have ever seen. My brassica's never get that rich dark foliage like yours. Possible the heat here may have something to do with it. Looks like we will get some great ideas coming from your garden like those plastic cloches - perfect for those in Australia who struggle with frosts in the winter months. Thanks for joining in the GSC.


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