No spring brassicas, thanks to December

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A record-breaking winter freeze ruined the spring greens, says Barry Cuff – but the stores are well-stocked and new veg is growing

Normally we have a good supply of brassicas to last us through February and March. Not so this year – we are only left with Brussels sprout (Brendan), and a few purple sprouting broccoli (Cardinal).
All our spring cauliflowers (Medallion), spring savoy cabbage (Vertus) – and most of the purple sprouting broccoli – plants were lost to the severe frosts in December. In more than 30 years I do not recall this happening before. It appears there were big losses right across England, from Dorset to Lancashire. One local Dorset commercial grower even lost cabbages and cauliflowers growing in his polytunnel. I believe in our case it was because the plants were exceptionally lush and almost certainly had some Boron deficiency.
However, our Palace parsnips taste even better now thanks to those same frosts during the three winter months, and we do still have a good supply of leeks – many of these are being used in soups! We still have a good selection of vegetables in our freezers and cold store, too. It is wonderful to be able to eat our own produce through the winter months. Our potatoes, squashes and onions kept well in the frost-free shed. Only the two large butternut squashes didn’t survive, whereas Crown Prince, Sweet Dumpling and Honey Boat look as good as they did when they were harvested in early September.
With much dry weather through February, all the potato ground has been dug, incorporating the horse manure which had been spread in December.

The broad beans are being planted out. Image: Barry Cuff

A new season
We have treated ourselves to three new strawberry varieties, 12 plants of each. These have been planted into a new bed.
Our garlic put on a little growth during the month and has been fed with liquid seaweed.
The first of the new year’s vegetables were planted out from trays on the 21st, about 60 plants in total. There is a double row of broad beans, two varieties – Witkiem Manita and Masterpiece Green Longpod.
In the greenhouse, we have sown Little Gem Lettuce, Golden Acre cabbage and Red Drumhead cabbage. On our bedroom windowsill the peppers sown in January are looking well and have their first set of true leaves.
During March we shall be sowing our onions, tomatoes and a second batch of lettuce.

A new season
We have treated ourselves to three new strawberry varieties, 12 plants of each. These have been planted into a new bed.
Our garlic put on a little growth during the month and has been fed with liquid seaweed.
The first of the new year’s vegetables were planted out from trays on the 21st, about 60 plants in total. There is a double row of broad beans, two varieties – Witkiem Manita and Masterpiece Green Longpod.
In the greenhouse, we have sown Little Gem Lettuce, Golden Acre cabbage and Red Drumhead cabbage. On our bedroom windowsill the peppers sown in January are looking well and have their first set of true leaves.
During March we shall be sowing our onions, tomatoes and a second batch of lettuce.

The out of doors section is sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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