Friday 25 April 2008

Scary direct sowing

Being still quite new at this vegetable growing lark I'm quite cautious when it comes to sowing directly into the ground. Last year in the back garden I started almost everything inside before potting them on, hardening them off and planting out. The only thing I didn't do like that was carrots, and guess which crop was least successful..?

I know in reality I simply can't start everything off inside, not only do we not have space it'd also cost a small fortune in compost. So I'm aiming to force myself to sow some things directly into the soil this year. My only question is what?

I planted some more sugar snap and mange tout peas directly into the ground a week or so ago on the other side of the little pea wall I built and obviously things like carrots, beetroot etc need to be sown direct, but what else is safe to do like that and expect decent results?


Anonymous said...

Hi Paul & Melanie, we start off sweetcorn, runner beans, marrows & courgettes, but this has it's problems. Start them off too early and they'll be too leggy when the good weather arrives - they might get sown this weekend - and even if the weather's good they always get a shock when they're planted out and can take some weeks to recover. If I was brave I'd direct sow all of them. Leeks are sown outside, but get transplanted when they're pencil sized - I should be sowing them now. Onion sets and shallots always go straight in without bother.

Anonymous said...

Lettuces! If they're kept under a little cloche to begin with (plastic bottle cut in half) they'll be fine.

I also sowed my turnips and some broadbeans straight into the ground. Will be doing parsnips and carrots straight in too. The thing about carrots is that they're VERY fussy and actually a lot harder to grow successfully than people expect I think. Plus I'm crap at thinning out.

I sowed my cabbages straight outside and they're doing fine.

Trying to think of other stuff... Sweetcorn I'll start off indoors. I think I'll let the leeks start off indoors too.

Anonymous said...

I'm having the same problem as you. I've started loads of things indoors and have now left my friends front room overflowing wit green things.

From now on everything has to be sown direct, that includes: french beans, peas, broad beans, parsnips, swedes, kohl rabi, all the brassicas, leeks. Surely thats everything.

vegmonkey said...

Heya Paul, generally root veg needs to be planted where they are to be grown. We do turnips, swedes, carrots, parsnips and onions from sets. Beans grow best transplanted - as do any other things that generally get eaten by slugs while they are growing! So, most things in my garden!!!!

Amy said...

I had a lot of success with runner beans, salad, chard and parsnips sowed direct.

Once the soil is warmer it is actually easier to sow direct because you don't risk damaging the roots through handling or having any of the hardening off challenges.

My main tip is to make sure you have some seed left over for any repeat sowings that might be needed. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Hi P & M, I’ve tagged you on my blog. It’s kind of a game. Hope you don’t mind. Want to play?

The only thing I've planted outside was some lettuce, which has just started to pop up, fingers crossed the slugs dont find them!

Nicky said...

Hi there
My living room floor is covered in propagators at the moment so like you, I'm thinking it would be good to have some seeds that can go straight into the ground at my allotment. So far I've only put in carrots (not up yet) spring onions (ditto) and beetroot (ditto) Last year I sowed parsnips and turnips direct and they were very successful, but so far, I'm not impressed by this year's sowings. Thank heavens for the propagators all over the floor At least they're full of little green shoots!
Good luck with your allotment, it looks great.
Best wishes

Kim said...

I'm with Vegmonkey, anything that is likely to be munched by a slug whilst still a seedling gets sown in guttering or seed trays/pots then planted out once big enough to hopefully fend for itself.

Unfortunately a lot of my recent pea seedlings got eaten by slugs as I had put them outside in the coldframe and the slugs managed to get in. I need to up the slug barrier on the coldframe sharpish!

Hope you've had fun at the allotment this weekend! (10/11 May)

nommo said...

I have successfully sown little gems, pentland brig kale, some radishes -all direct in the ground this year mid April and out near Cirencester (so the weather should be similar to yours). I tried sowing some Barlotta Lingua Di Fuoco Nano (Dwarf French Beans) direct at our newly aquired allotment, but the slugs had them as soon as they came up :( but they did come up...

Parsley, basil, coriander, marjoram, summer savory have all come up OK when sown direct (in troughs). The coriander is doing really well!

I would suggest that it isn't starting off the carrots outdoors direct that caused your trouble last year - it would probably be something to do with either carrot fly, stones, rich soil (too much muck) or not enough drainage. I managed to get a small crop of carrots in our small raised bed in the back garden last year, but they were a bit wonky and at least half were forked. I reckoned that was the stones (the soil is pretty poor and we have yet to add our first batch of home-made garden compost to mulch and top dress, so it wasn't over fertilised. I watched a whole day of allotment programs on sky one day, and came up with a plan:

I am trying carrots in a large raised tub this year(sat atop an upturned pot of the same type) with a mix of 1/3 horticultural sand and 2/3 peat -free organic potting compost. Apparently they like it a bit sandy and well drained. I have sown a quarter of the tub at a time with a couple of different varieties every couple of weeks(ish). They are all up now - the theory is that the height means that carrot fly can't get to them to lay their spawn, and the free-draining soil mix should mean that they are pretty straight. I will let you know if the plan works..! I am a bit worried though, as the foliage has started going a bit red...

I am not an expert either - just a well read (or watched?!) amateur ;-)