Saturday, 26 October 2013

More Seeds Sown and Sea Buckthorn

Today I managed to sow a row of Spring Onions, Pak Choi and Chinese Kale in the main vegetable bed. Another job that needed doing.

Pak Choi (Shanghai)

I'm not too sure whether the Pak Choi will work outside unprotected but like everything it will be an experiment. I've no idea about the flavour but if Tesco's are selling it then it has obviously become more popular and is supposed to be good in salads and stir fries and I think maybe a good addition to the vegetable patch as it'll give us some variety since I have normally stayed away from  growing "foreign" veg but if we are to move into being as self sufficient as possible then we need as many things as possible that can be grown all year round.  I've read different names for Pak Choi and there appears to be various different varieties but often it appears to be called Bok Choy or Chinese Cabbage with some saying it needs to be grown under cloches and others saying it is easy to grow with no other mentions of care.

The seed packet says that it needs to be kept moist otherwise a dry spell will cause it to bolt but it also says that you can and should pick the baby leaves to encourage growth and goes on to mention that it can be cut up to 4 times and will re-grow. I don't know if this means the leaves you pick will re-grow or wether it will re-grow if you pick all the leaves in one go. Time will tell I'm sure.

Spring Onions (White Lisbon)

Spring Onions have always failed when I have tried them. I presume something eats them or maybe I forget they are Spring type and leave them to become big Onions but hopefully by writing what I have planted and where I'll remember this time. It says on the packet that these are quick growing and if you sow them in October they will be ready by March/April - that doesn't sound quick to me. Anyway, another vegetable for a stir fry or salad and sandwiches. I have sown these in between the rows of Durham Early Cabbage simply to cram a bit more out of that bed.

Chinese Kale (Kailaan)

Something else I've never grown before but once again the packet says the flowering stems and buds can be used is salads and stir fries. The larger stems need peeling and cooking. Other thing tried for variety and once again sown within the Durham Early Cabbage and White Sprouting Broccoli to make more use of the bed. Sowing was supposed to be up until early autumn but it is still mild and worth a try.

I think I'll try sowing a few of each in the greenhouse as well later today.

Bedfordshire Champion Onions

I had found an old seed packet, pre opened and 5 years old. It says to sow in Spring but I've sown 3 seed trays worth in the greenhouse just to see what happens. If they grow then I may be able to transplant them outside in the spring. I've bought a new packet of these ready for the Spring so this opened packet wasn't doing any good just sitting in a box so it has to be worth the experiment.

Lambs Lettuce (Corn Salad, Valerianella locusta) 

I have sown 2 medium sized pots of Lamb's Lettuce since when reading loads of other people's blogs I keep coming across it. Apparently it has a nutty flavour and can be grown all year round although it is an annual. It has many nutrients and goes well in a salad.  According to Wikipedia it has been commercially available in the UK since the 1980's but has been eaten, or foraged, for centuries before and is popular with the French. Good enough for me then.

I have read that it can be very invasive and in the Spring when I sow some outside I think it may be a contender for being confined to a small raised bed.


Cauliflower has to be one of my favourite vegetables and I don't remember growing it before so a couple of seed trays were sown in the greenhouse. The packet said it could be sown in the Spring or indoors during October. I'm hoping I can grow enough of these to freeze a load so we can eat them during the year.

Mizuna Lettuce

Another one I've not tried before but it said can be sown in the Autumn and has a peppery taste. It follows the salad and stir fry theme I seem to have today and will hopefully open my eyes to yet another variety. 

Sea Buckthorn

 I was reading Deano's blog post about a Chicken scavenging design  and in there a comment someone made mentioned Sea Buckthorn being something chickens liked to eat and since one of my duties as a Wildlife Trust volunteer is to help manage the Sea Buckthorn I thought I'd pinch a few tiny plants when we had to remove them from an area. Normally the bushes are burnt but I pulled 4 or 5 tiny plants that came off of runners and have stuck them into pots of compost. Hopefully they have enough roots on them to take if they are kept well watered. It must be the wrong time of year to try this but if successful then I was hoping to grow them on a bit before adding them to the chicken run. Hopefully the chickens can supplement their diet, save us money on chicken food and give them a more varied environment. Deano had commented that his soil wasn't right for Sea Buckthorn but I think if they take then I will dig a patch and make the soil right, which is light well drained and sandy.

Sea Buckthorn can be a very invasive bush but if it did grow too well and try and take over then all that is needed is cutting back or digging bits up which isn't the end of the world considering the field would benefit from this pretty bush plus the branches and leaves are very good at fire starting so I could even get a supply of kindling.  The Buckthorn has male and female plants so fingers crossed I have some female plants, if not I'll have to try again in the Spring.

The berries are very popular with birds which will help make the field a wildlife haven plus they can be used for food so they seem like a good plant to me.

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