Browsing Tag


Vegetable Garden

Kale, Kale and Cabbage… we love our greens!

May 26, 2011

Life’s been pretty busy here in the Sewelly household with one thing and another and I’ve been aware that the planting in our own garden has been falling behind (apart from the polytunnel which is immaculate ☺)

So on Tuesday as I was working away at the computer, and knowing that my chances of visiting a local garden centre soon were slim, I ordered some winter cabbage and pea/bean seeds online.
I have a few favourite seed suppliers – see here for links  and one of those is  The Secret Garden Centre based in Newmarket, Cork. 
Brian and Sarah (owners of the centre) recently revamped their website and it’s a delight to visit. Packed full of colourful pictures and tempting gift ideas, the site and online shop are easy to navigate and hold just enough seed varieties to choose (organic, heritage and regular) without overwhelming.
I first came across The Secret Garden last year when I was searching for green manures, organic pest and disease controls and Bordeaux mixture, all of which they stock. If they weren’t so far away I’m sure the girls and I would be regular visitors, sampling some of their cake and watching the ducks and nesting birds.
I was delighted to find the seeds in the postbox this morning (just two days later), and as befitting the garden centre’s Irish Green Awards status, they were packed securely in a recycled jiffy bag.
I haven’t prepared the legume bed in our garden yet so tucked those packets away in the seed tin and immediately headed outside with my Cabbage Winnigstadt and Cabbage Holland Late Winter, both organic seeds from Suffolk Herbs.
This year two brassica beds have been put aside in the garden (we like our greens and could even go a third if we had the space). The first already has kohl rabi and swede at small seedling stage that were sown directly a couple of weeks ago and today I transplanted some Kale Kapitan, Black Russian Kale and Scarlet Curly Kale that had been started off undercover.
In previous years due to lack of space, windowsills and polytunnel I’ve sown all the brassica seeds directly into the soil. This year I’ve started as much as I can inside. This should benefit the seedlings in that they’ll be much more able to withstand attack from the dreaded slug and the worst of the weather.

The second brassica bed has had a green manure of field beans growing in it over the winter months. The nitrogen  fixing nodules will benefit the cabbage and cauliflower crops that are due to be housed there once I’ve dug the beans in and weeded it. So once again, I set too planting the tiny seeds into modules, bringing them on under the protection of the tunnel until a) they’re big enough to transplant and b) I’ve prepared the bed.

It still surprises me how much you can do in an hour. It never surprises me how much better I feel after some time pottering with the plants, and I now have the added bonus of that  feel-good factor when you know you can tick off a few more jobs from the seemingly never ending list.
Vegetable Garden

Making a Seed Bed

April 28, 2011
How to Create a Seed Bed

Seed bed containing purple sprouting broccoli seedlings

How to Create a Seed Bed

Before we begin, you might be wondering what a seed bed is. Basically, it’s a small area of land that’s used for sowing slow growing vegetables such as cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli etc., directly into the soil, before moving them on to their final growing positions.

Why bother? Quicker cropping vegetables such as lettuce or radish can be planted in the empty vegetable beds where the slower growing plants that you’ve started off in the seed bed will follow. Seed beds are also useful if you don’t have a polytunnel or glasshouse, saving you filling up your windowsills.  Alternatively you may have something growing in the vegetable bed that you’re ultimately planning to plant your cabbages into.

A seed bed doesn’t need to be very big – about a metre square is sufficient.  A seed bed does need to be in an open, sunny position to give the seedlings the best start in life.

The soil should be well prepared – light, well-drained, free of weeds and stones. Check the pH (cheap kits are available in garden centres). pH neutral is best, somewhere between 6.5 and 7.  Seed beds do not need to be too fertile either as seeds contain everything they need to germinate.

To get a fine tilth suitable for sowing seeds, rake the soil gently backwards and forth when it’s neither too wet nor too dry.  Tiny seeds will need a finer tilth than larger ones.

Cats seem to love rolling in seedbeds so consider enclosing the area with wire netting until the seedlings are larger, or string black cotton over the bed to deter birds.

Sow the seeds in drills (see picture above) and as they start to grow either move them to a ‘holding bed’ (like a seedbed only larger) or transplant them (move) to their final positions.

Before moving them, water both the seedbed and the soil into which the plants will move to.  “You’d never move house before having a cup of tea.”

Note: Avoid planting Calabrese in a seed bed as it does not like to be transplanted.


Do you use seed beds? Have you found them useful?