Posts Tagged ‘Windowsill gardening’

Nation of Gardeners December planting update: Who needs the shops at Christmas when you have Mr Fothergill’s?

January 15th, 2014 | Nation of Gardeners, The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

The Nation of Gardeners' gardens are getting very fullAs we enter 2014 and pass the three month mark, it is safe to say that the Nation of Gardeners project is well and truly underway.  The gardens, coldframes and greenhouses of our gardeners are starting to get very full, and so in December, Mr Fothergill’s decided to fill up their windowsills for them as well!

December is a good month for sowing herbs and salad leaves for growing on a sunny windowsill.  Fresh leaves can be picked for up to 4 cuts in as little as 6 – 8 weeks.  Mr Fothergill’s were very interested to know if this could be achieved successfully in all parts of the country.  During milder months it is expected that the first cut can be taken at 6 – 8 weeks, and so this growing task was to test how long they take ‘out of season’ when light levels and ambient temperatures inside and outside are low.

 

A round up of December’s planting tasks

With the winter weather setting in, the December parcel took our gardeners indoors for windowsill sowings of basil, coriander and four types of salad leaves; mild, spicy, red and green.

The salad leaf varieties were as follows and were suggested to be sown in 25cm pots and to then be placed in a sunny position either indoors on a windowsill or outside in a frost-free greenhouse or coldframe:

It was the salad leaves that surprised many of the gardeners and had them racing for the quickest results. Some salads were seen to be germinated within 48 hours, and all gardeners had sturdy seedlings within a couple of weeks of sowing.

Our Pontypridd gardener decided to test indoor versus outdoor sowing in a frost-free greenhouse in this trial across each of the seeds he was sent.  He reported back that his outdoor salads looked sturdier and less leggy than their indoor sown counterparts.   Our Devon gardener also tested the Spicy Salad Leaves in a coldframe outside – whilst sowing the other three varieties inside – and she too reported back that the outdoor sowings looked much healthier than her indoor specimens.

The ‘legginess’ of the indoor sown seedlings was widely reported back – due to lack of good quality, long periods of daylight perhaps – and so time will tell if the salads respond well to the lengthening of the days now we are past the winter solstice.

Salads grown in December 2013

Two varieties of herbs, Basil Piccolino and Coriander Calypso, were also sent out in the December parcel.  Both of which were suggested to be sown and grown in 9cm pots and then placed on a sunny windowsill and kept moist.

The ambient temperatures both inside and outside was recorded by the gardeners at time of sowing and the gardeners were also asked to record the aspect of windowsill the pots were placed to gauge the effects of the low light levels of winter on the seedlings’ progress.

Coriander seedlings in Scotland

Temperature seems to have been a deciding factor in getting the basil to germinate successfully.  Although some basil sowings for some did germinate within 3 days.  For others it took decidedly longer, with radiator heat being used to warm things up a bit where windowsill temperature could not provide.   Subsequent successful sowing into heated or even just covered non-electric propagators from the same batch of seeds seemed to prove the point that basil needs heat to get going.

Coriander showed itself to be slightly less fussy about temperature, though for some was slow in coming.  Our gardeners with the ‘quickest’ Coriander were in Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire with a 7 day germination rate, although our Pontypridd gardener reported back germination in 6 days.  Otherwise the general germination rate for Coriander showed itself to be 10 to 14 days.

A new dimension to the trials project emerged over Christmas, when the Mr Fothergill’s parcel became a Mr Fothergill’s festive food parcel, when many of the gardeners were able to use their first Fothergill’s batch of produce to garnish their meals over the festive period.  One gardener used their salad leaf micro-greens sprinkled over a prawn and smoked salmon salad on New Year’s Day, and another chopped their baby spicy salad leaves to use in a tomato salad and used their mild leaves as a garnish on top of egg mayonnaise.   The salad leaves had the gardeners discussing recipes and uses from sandwiches to salads, which led one gardener to question “who needs shops”!

October and November planting update

Autumn-sown garlic in DevonOctober and November’s plantings have now fully established and the gardeners have been noting some significant progress lately.   Least magnificently – but most significantly for our group of gardeners perhaps –  is visible progress with the Garlic Solent Wight which was received in the first packages sent out in October.  Many of the gardeners were reporting no movement on their garlic plantings all through October and November, but now the colder weather has arrived most are seeing shoots of green emerging, which has been welcomed with some relief.

The bare root perennials planted in November have shown variable results depending on the variety.  Varieties such as the Papaver  have settled into their new homes very well with lots of new top growth, and the planted Sedums are also looking well settled.  For some, the Astrantia and Eryngium still have top growth intact, but for others the leaves have faded away, leaving a patch of bare ground with a marker the only evidence that something is planted there.  For most, the Cimicifuga appears to have all but disappeared entirely, although this shy-to-show-itself plant is showing minuscule evidences of growth for some observant gardeners who have seen slight growth of only millimetres, or a change in colouration of the growing tip just poking above ground level.

October and November plants for Nation of Gardeners

By far the most robust performers in the trials so far are the autumn planted Broad Beans, the Strawberry Buddy and the  Strawberry Sweetheart, and the Blackberry Reuben.  All gardeners are reporting back strong and healthy growth of these varieties.

Storm damaged blackberry plant in Scotland

Some plants, such as the Broad Beans planted in more southerly areas are continuing to grow right through the winter without check, to the extent that their caretakers are worried they are growing too far, too soon.  In early January, the first flower buds have also started to form on the strawberry plants for our gardener in Devon.  She has nipped these off to strengthen the plant.

Sadly, the storms that have ravaged the country have created plant casualties for the Nation of Gardeners, with both the Renfrewshire and Peak District gardeners losing their Blackberry plants to the high winds.  The stump shown in the picture to the right here is our Scottish gardener’s blackberry plant, which due to where it has snapped, may never recover.

 

To follow the results of our gardeners in more detail, take a look at our table of stats for each of the varieties:

December 2013′s planting

November 2013′s planting

October 2013′s planting

 

Looking forward into January

The next package has just been sent out to the group of gardeners who will be receiving their parcels within the couple of days.  For this task, we give them some more crops to grow and a new variety of flower that will be introduced in 2014 for general sale to see how they fare with this new variety.

Nation of Gardeners results: Mixed Green Salad Leaves

January 15th, 2014 | Nation of Gardeners, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Mixed green salad leavesThese Mixed Green Salad leaves can be grown all year round and are quick to grow in containers, on the windowsill indoors or outside during winter in a frost-free greenhouse or cold frame.  These leaves are perfect as a cut-and-come-again crop or for growing on to full lettuce heads.

As long as the plants have plenty of light and are kept frost-free, they will grow successfully to provide salad leaves year-round.

Our Nation of Gardeners were asked to sow Mixed Green Salad Leaves in December 2013 as part of a windowsill growing challenge during the colder months of the year.  The table below charts their progress.

 

Location Elevation Date planted Date first signs of growth Notes
Cheshire 49m 17 December 20 December Sown on North East facing windowsill. Very quick growth, etiolated seedlings moved to greenhouse after 10 days. Tastes like cress.
Renfrewshire 28m 16 December 20 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 31 December: Fairly good germination but several seedlings collapsed so not many surviving
North Devon 30-50m 12 December 15 December Sown indoors on South East facing windowsill. Although quick to germinate, they haven’t established into full leaves, still thin seedlings.
Worcestershire 55m 28 December 3 January Sown indoors on a South facing windowsill.
Derbyshire 39m
Cumbria 90m 18 January 23 January Sown on North facing windowsill.
Ceredigion 131m 6 December 9 December Sown indoors on North West facing windowsill.  1 January: first picking, good flavour.
Bristol 55m 10 December 14 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 26 December: first picking
Suffolk 6m 7 December 10 December sown in propagator and then placed on West facing windowsill once germinated. Very leggy seedlings.
Hertfordshire 150m 8 December 14 December Sown indoors on North West facing windowsill.
Surrey 58m 27 December 30 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 4 January 2014: Seedlings looking very strong & healthy
Pontypridd 157m 15 December 18 December (indoors)23 December (outdoors) Indoor sowings on North facing windowsill were quick to germinate, started to get ‘leggy’ so cut back. 31 December: first picking. Not bitter – tastelessOutdoor sowings were slower to germinate but the seedlings looked much stronger.
Buckinghamshire 66m 27 December 29 December Sown indoors on an East facing windowsill.
Guildford 56m
Gloucestershire 74m 31 December 2 January Indoor sowings on South facing windowsill, overshadowed by trees.
Derbyshire 241m 14 December 17 December Indoor sowings on South facing windowsill. 30 December: thick mat of seedlings by end of month, but not big enough to pick.

Nation of Gardeners results: Mixed Red Salad Leaves

January 15th, 2014 | Nation of Gardeners, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

mixed red saladThese Mixed Red Salad leaves can be grown all year round and are quick to grow in containers, on the windowsill indoors or outside during winter in a frost-free greenhouse or cold frame.  These leaves are perfect as a cut-and-come-again crop or for growing on to full lettuce heads.

As long as the plants have plenty of light and are kept frost-free, they will grow successfully to provide salad leaves year-round.

Our Nation of Gardeners were asked to sow Mixed Red Salad Leaves in December 2013 as part of a windowsill growing challenge during the colder months of the year.  The table below charts their progress.

 

Location Elevation Date planted Date first signs of growth Notes
Cheshire 49m 17 December 20 December Sown on North East facing windowsill. Very quick growth, etiolated seedlings moved to greenhouse after 10 days. Tastes like cress.
Renfrewshire 28m 16 December 20 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 31 December: Fairly good germination but several seedlings collapsed so not many surviving
North Devon 30-50m 12 December 15 December Sown indoors on South East facing windowsill. Although quick to germinate, they haven’t established into full leaves, still thin seedlings.
Worcestershire 55m 28 December 4 January Sown indoors on a South facing windowsill.
Derbyshire 39m
Cumbria 90m 18 January 23 January Sown indoors on a North facing windowsill
Ceredigion 131m 6 December 9 December Sown indoors on North West facing windowsill.  1 January: first picking, good flavour.
Bristol 55m 10 December 14 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 26 December: first picking
Suffolk 6m 7 December 10 December Sown into propagator at 22 degrees C and then moved to went facing windowsill once germinated. Very leggy looking seedlings.
Hertfordshire 150m 8 December 14 December Sown indoors on North West facing windowsill.
Surrey 58m 27 December 30 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 4 January 2014: Seedlings looking healthy but slightly behind green & spicy seedlings
Pontypridd 157m 15 December 19 December (indoors)23 December (outdoors) Indoor sowings on North facing windowsill were quick to germinate, started to get ‘leggy’ so cut back. 31 December: first picking. Not bitter – but plants very youngOutdoor sowings were slower to germinate but the seedlings looked much stronger.
Buckinghamshire 66m 27 December 29 December Sown indoors on an East facing windowsill.
Guildford 56m
Gloucestershire 74m 11 December 16 December Indoor sowings on South facing windowsill, overshadowed by trees. Got very ‘leggy’ indoors so moved them to a south facing lean to greenhouse, with full sun when it’s not raining most of the day.
Derbyshire 241m 14 December 17 December Indoor sowings on South facing windowsill. 30 December: thick mat of seedlings by end of month, but not big enough to pick.  23 January: started to damp off. 2 February: All lost

Nation of Gardeners results: Mixed Mild Salad Leaves

January 15th, 2014 | Nation of Gardeners, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Mixed Mild Salad LeavesThese Mixed Mild Salad leaves can be grown all year round and are quick to grow in containers, on the windowsill indoors or outside during winter in a frost-free greenhouse or cold frame.

These leaves are perfect as a cut-and-come-again crop or for growing on to full lettuce heads.  They can be grown easily in containers for ease of access from the kitchen in the summer months too.

Our Nation of Gardeners were asked to sow Mixed Mild Salad Leaves in December 2013 as part of a windowsill growing challenge during the colder months of the year.  The table below charts their progress.

 

Location Elevation Date planted Date first signs of growth Notes
Cheshire 49m 17 December 20 December Sown on North East facing windowsill. Very quick growth, etiolated seedlings moved to greenhouse after 10 days. Tastes like cress.
Renfrewshire 28m 16 December 22 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 31 December:  Relatively high germination rate but seedlings rather weak and spindly as compared to the spicy mix.
North Devon 30-50m 12 December 15 December Sown indoors on North East facing windowsill. Although quick to germinate, they haven’t established into full leaves, still thin seedlings.
Worcestershire 55m 28 December 4 January Sown indoors on a South facing windowsill.
Derbyshire 39m
Cumbria 90m 18 January 23 January Sown indoors on a North facing windowsill
Ceredigion 131m 6 December 9 December Sown indoors on North West facing windowsill.  1 January: first picking, good flavour.
Bristol 55m 19 December 23 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 26 December: first picking
Suffolk 6m 7 December 10 December Sown into propagator at 22 degrees C then moved to a West facing windowsill when germinated. Very leggy seedlings.
Hertfordshire 150m 8 December 16 December Sown indoors on North West facing windowsill.
Surrey 58m 27 December 31 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 4 January 2014: Seedlings looking healthy but slightly behind green & spicy seedlings
Pontypridd 157m 15 December 18 December (indoors)24 December (outdoors) Indoor sowings on North facing windowsill were quick to germinate, started to get ‘leggy’ so cut back. 31 December: first picking. Not bitter – but plants very youngOutdoor sowings were slower to germinate but the seedlings looked much stronger.
Buckinghamshire 66m 27 December 29 December Sown indoors on an East facing windowsill.
Guildford 56m
Gloucestershire 74m 11 December 16 December Indoor sowings on South facing windowsill, overshadowed by trees. Got very ‘leggy’ indoors so moved them to a south facing lean to greenhouse, with full sun when it’s not raining most of the day.
Derbyshire 241m 14 December 17 December Indoor sowings on South facing windowsill. 30 December: thick mat of seedlings by end of month, but not big enough to pick.

 

Nation of Gardeners results: Mixed Spicy Salad Leaves

January 15th, 2014 | Nation of Gardeners, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Mixed Spicy Salad LeavesThese Mixed Spicy Salad leaves can be grown all year round and are quick to grow in containers, on the windowsill indoors or outside during winter in a frost-free greenhouse or cold frame.

These leaves are perfect as a cut-and-come-again crop or for growing on to full lettuce heads.  They can be grown easily in containers for ease of access from the kitchen in the summer months and will supply a reliable continuous crop of peppery and spicy tasting leaves to enliven your salads.

Our Nation of Gardeners were asked to sow Mixed Spicy Salad Leaves in December 2013 as part of a windowsill growing challenge during the colder months of the year.  The table below charts their progress.

 

Location Elevation Date planted Date first signs of growth Notes
Cheshire 49m 17 December 20 December Sown on North East facing windowsill. Very quick growth, etiolated seedlings moved to greenhouse after 10 days. Tastes like cress.
Renfrewshire 28m 16 December 20 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 31 December:  High proportion of seeds germinated and seedlings looking strong.
North Devon 30-50m 12 December 22 December Sown outdoors in a cold frame against a North Facing wall.
Worcestershire 55m 28 December 3 January Sown indoors on a South facing windowsill.
Derbyshire 39m
Cumbria 90m 18 January 23 January Sown indoors on a North facing windowsill
Ceredigion 131m 6 December 9 December Sown indoors on North West facing windowsill.  1 January: first picking, good flavour.
Bristol 55m 19 December 23 December Sown indoors on South facing windowsill. 26 December: first picking
Suffolk 6m 7 December 10 December Sown in propagator at 22 degrees C then moved to West facing windowsill when germinated. Very leggy.
Hertfordshire 150m 8 December 14 December Sown indoors on North West facing windowsill.
Surrey 58m 27 December 30 December Sown indoors on South West facing windowsill. 4 January 2014: Seedlings looking strong and healthy.
Pontypridd 157m 15 December 18 December (indoors)24 December (outdoors) Indoor sowings on North facing windowsill were quick to germinate, started to get ‘leggy’ so cut back. 31 December: first picking. Not bitter – could taste the spiciness.Outdoor sowings were slower to germinate but the seedlings looked much stronger. The Spicy variety were the sturdiest of all the salad sowings.
Buckinghamshire 66m 27 December 29 December Sown indoors on an East facing windowsill.
Guildford 56m
Gloucestershire 74m 11 December 16 December Indoor sowings on South facing windowsill, overshadowed by trees. Got very ‘leggy’ indoors so moved them to a south facing lean to greenhouse, with full sun when it’s not raining most of the day.
Derbyshire 241m 14 December 17 December Indoor sowings on South facing windowsill. 30 December: thick mat of seedlings by end of month, but not big enough to pick.