Monday, April 26, 2010

Lunar planting - root veg

Following from the fruit planting weekend, the moon now moves into Virgo, an earth sign, so a perfect time for planting rooted, earthy veg.

Once back from work and after a quick lunch, I set to with my trusty trowel and a bunch of seeds.

I do not believe in planting root veg for transplanting, the roots are so delicate that unless you spend hours and hours making paper seed pots or cutting and stuffing toilet rolls which you can put straight into the ground, you risk damaging the roots and stopping plant growth.

I wait until the soil temperature has gone up to about 10 to 12 degrees, then plant straight outside when the risk of heavy frosts is over.

Today I planted parsnips - taken from seed from last years crop, carrots - an organic strain called Jeanette, beetroots, kohl rabi and onions from seed. I normally plant my onion sets a bit later, but this year having had a few onions bolt and go to seed last autumn, I thought I would try sowing some of these seeds to see how they do.

I companion sow my carrots and parsnips with my onions to help protect against carrot fly, sometimes sowing in the same row, or, as this year, alternate rows of leek, parsnip, white onion, carrots, and red onions.

I tend to sow my carrots much denser than advised, as I like to harvest baby carrots rather than thin out and waste any plants. A pinch of about 3 to 4 seeds every 10 cms gives good growth and a chance to harvest the baby carrots when they are about 10 cm in length, leaving just one carrot behind in each clump to grow on. To preserve I harvest, wash the dirt off, cut into julienne strips or rings and freeze in large bags as fast as possible to preserve their goodness, normally doing 3 large carrier bag fulls this way will see us through until the first baby carrots are ready to eat in the summer.

I sow my beetroots in a similar fashion, smoothing the earth in the row flat with the back of the rack, I then use the stave to create little depressions in the ground about 15 cms apart. Into each depression I drop about 3 to 4 seeds, water in and then lightly cover. When they start to grow, I harvest the beets when they are about golf ball size, again leaving behind just one beetroot to grow on. The baby beets are lovely roasted whole with garlic or pickled. The larger beets will be made into chutneys.

When I boil up my larger beetroots to make chutney, I wash them thoroughly then boil them whole leaving the skins on for about 45 minutes to an hour so that they soften up and the skin peels away very easily. This red beetroot water is never wasted, once drained I keep some for dying wools and cottons, and the rest I freeze into plastic pop bottles so that I have a ready supply of beetroot base for making barszcz in the winter.

With my root veg from seed sown today, that just leaves some potatoes to go in, some onion sets to get, and lots of patience waiting for the coldframe seeds to sprout and grown on ready for transplanting. April is nearly over and the garden is nearly done.
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