Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Garlic and heirlooms

Last year I planted garlic. Twice. At different times. In different places. Planted in full sun, part sun, shade, full shade. Guess how many sprouted? Not one!

First I read on Alan’s blog that Garlic must be planted in Autumn if you want it to grow successfully. That was my first Garlic Ah ha moment. The second Garlic Ah ha moment came when I read a few weeks ago that the garlic we buy from our local super market is genetically modified to be sterile (so that if you plant it will not grow). That’s quite funny actually. Here I was faithfully planting the finest bulbs from my garlic purchases thinking they would give me wonderful garlic plants. They didn’t stand a chance. Now I know why.

The last time I visited Barbie’s garden I was completely blown away by the size and quality of the vegetables she had growing in her garden here and also here. The tomatoes tasted like real tomatoes, her baby marrows were the size of giant cucumbers and the butternut squash was beautiful and tasted like no squash I buy. Delicious! I wondered a little how she did it and decided it had to be the wonderful full sun she has going on in her veggie beds. Until I stumbled on a sentence in a newspaper article in which Barbie and her garden was featuredHer new venture is to use heirloom seeds. “I’m very interested in buying and swapping seeds. The second-generation plants of the commercial seeds are weak. It really upsets me that seeds are being manipulated like this. It means you can’t collect your seeds from year to year, but have to buy new ones each time.

A bit of scouting around and I came across a South African site that sells Heirloom Seeds*. I spent quite a bit of time on the site and read their story which inspired me to try growing a few more veggies. (Note to self: but more pots for veggie plants). Each vegetable or herb featured on the site is accompanied by useful tips and instructions on when, where and how to sow, etc.

Long story short, I placed a small order with them which arrived and I now eagerly await the weekend so that I can get outside and plant!

Living seeds parcel

[one_half]The seed packetsThe seed packets[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Pink Egyptian garlicPink Egyptian garlic[/one_half_last]

[one_half]White Egyptian garlicWhite Egyptian garlic[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Giant GarlicGiant Garlic[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Lovely, plump garlic seedLovely, plump garlic seed[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Parcel from Living SeedsParcel from Living Seeds[/one_half_last]

I have to commend the guys at Living Seeds. I’ve bought quite a few seeds and gardening things online. Ordering was fast, secure and communication was great. The seeds arrived in the post (it took ten days from Gauteng to Cape Town, but that’s the SA Postal Service for you!). They were beautifully packaged and arrived with more printed info and tips again on how to get the most from my garlic seeds. Best online seed buying experience by far!

The instructions for planting times are pretty clear. The Egyptian garlic should have been planted by the end of March and the Giant or Elephant garlic should be planted out by mid April.

In case you are wondering what’s in the seed packets … I also bought Borage, Red Creole Onions and Echinacea. It says this on all the seed packets: We encourage you this season to become more sustainable. Plant these seeds with the intention of saving some seed for the following season. I like this company, their service and their product. If you are a South African looking for superior quality seed, please try them. **

* Heirloom Seeds (definition courtesy of Heirloom vegetables can be simply defined as any plant that has been handed down from generation to generation. However there is much debate and discussion between various organisations and bodies that try to place limits and stipulations as to what defines an heirloom plant. We believe that any plant that is firstly open pollinated, secondly has a history of private exchange and thirdly has not been subject to a plant breeders rights claim to be worthy of heirloom status. This definition is however not cast in stone and is open to constructive discussion.

** Please note that this is an unsolicited review. Living Seeds are not aware of my intention to blog about this order and I paid for my purchases like any normal customer.

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

First attempt at planting seeds

BeforeToday I thought I’d try something that I’ve been purposely avoiding … planting seeds. I’ve never planted seeds before in my life – and fear of failure and thereby revealing a serious lack of “green-fingerness” has kept me from trying this. (I do recall planting beans on cotton wool as a child but that’s as far as it went – I have no recollection of what happened to the beans after they sprouted – I’m guessing they died).

But now I’ve been dabbling in this wonderful world of gardening, my Camellias are flowering successfully and I have a veggie planter full of thriving veggies and my confidence levels are up! Plus, I keep reading about how rewarding and easy it is to grow plants from seed, so I decided … the time is now! I have the perfect little planter that’ s been waiting around for some action, compost in a bag and a collection of seeds in packets. The biggest decision I had to make was which seeds to plant. I have Marigolds, California poppies, Nasturtiums, radishes, carrots, chives and onion seeds, all in little packets that I’ve been buying – though why I bought them when I had no intention of sowing them I’m not quite sure (OK, I’m an impulse shopper and those colourful little seed packets just look so darn cute!)

[one_half]Before …Before ....[/one_half]

[one_half_last]and AfterAnd after[/one_half_last]

I chose to plant the nasturtiums. The reason I chose them is because the seeds felt really big through the packet – so I thought that would be easiest as my first attempt because I can handle them without dropping them all over the place. The “type” according to the packet is Nasturtium “Scarlet Jewel”. Now I see the packet says to plant directly into flower beds – why oh why do I always read the instructions AFTER I do something? Nevermind …

It all went quickly and easily – not too much mess, no fuss. I covered the planter box drainage holes with stones, added the compost to the plant box, firmed it down to get rid of air pockets and then took the seeds out of the packet, spaced them equally around the planter and then covered them with a 4mm layer of compost. Firmed it all down again, placed it on my plant shelf and gave it a good watering. The packet says to keep the seeds moist whilst they germinate and that germination takes six to ten days. We shall see … this better work or I will be mortified!

I’ll report back in 6 – 10 days, hopefully with sprouting nasturtiums!

Any advice on how to complete project “Christine plants seeds” successfully, will be most appreciated!

Happy gardening