Sowing Sweet Peas, Salvia and Broad Beans in February

The propagator is fired up, and the sow-athon begins with Broad Beans, Sweet Peas, and Salvia.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been chomping at the bit to get gardening again. February can be one of the most bitterly cold months in the UK, and so when you get a little bit of sunshine, or a day without rain, snow, wind, or freezing conditions, it is so tempting to get out there and make a start.

In my last post I shared my seed planner, and I’ve found that really helpful in reminding me what I’m going to grow and how I can pace myself a bit. I’ve already added more seeds to the schedule!

So, with four days of February under our belts, I’ve decided to start sowing some seeds, and set up my little propagator again on a windowsill.

pots of cineraria and salvia seeds in a propagator
Cineraria ‘Maritima Siverdust’ and Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ are the first in the propagator this year.

First in today were my Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ seeds – only 6 seeds so far, but I can go back and add more seed in a few weeks if they don’t germinate well, or add more a few weeks later just to stagger my crop.

As a child, broad beans were like nasty little warts and they tasted disgusting, yet, as an adult I simply cannot get enough of them. I’m frustrated by the lack of them in my local supermarket – and can’t even get them frozen, so I thought that I would sow some myself. I’m worried about the blackfly though, as they took great delight in attacking my tomatoes last year, but I’ve been watching several videos on how to deal with these on Broad Beans. I’m also looking forward to the benefits that they will give my garden by pumping nitrogen back into the soil. The courgettes and squash will love that!

packets of sweet pea, salvia, and broad bean seeds
The first seeds to sow in February – Sweet Peas, Salvia, and Broad Beans.

In addition to these, I also sowed a dozen each of Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ and Sweet Pea ‘Royal Mixed’. I grew both varieties last year, and whilst they flowered well over a long season, they didn’t climb. I think this was due to the garden twine ‘web’ that I put up for them, so I will swap that to wire before I plant these out. Past experience shows that these will germinate quickly, but last year the Royal Mixed variety were up first.

Finally, I’ve sown some more of my Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ seeds. I sowed some of these (same packet) last year, but only one germinated – although it did become a large striking plant in my new garden.

Salvia 'Farinacea Victoria' with deep blue flowers
The sole surviving Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ plant was covered in deep blue flowers.

Hopefully, they will be more successful this year, and help fill my new border with its beautiful deep blue spires that looked great, and were popular with the bees. This early sowing does at least allow me time to perhaps get some new seed if the germination is poor.

These Salvia seeds actually join my Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ that I sowed last week. Those will add an intricate snowy-leafed set of foliage to my garden.

Cineraria 'Martima Siverdust'
Cineraria ‘Martima Siverdust’

They worked really well in my previous garden where it was sheltered and shady, and they lived on for about 4 years! They contrast well with most other plants.

As I finish typing this post, the sun is blazing, the birds are feasting on my feeders, and I can hear a blackbird singing. It feels like Spring is here, but I’m not fooled by February – which won’t flinch about bringing deadly snow and ice.

Have you started your 2018 sowing season yet? Let me know in the comments below.

As ever, thank you for reading, and happy gardening!

Andrew

Why isn’t it Spring yet?

Filled with dreams of Spring 2018, I’ve found myself browsing and buying next year’s seed.

I’m feeling impatient.

Snow is on the ground, the garden is brown and sleeping, and I’m thumbing the Sutton’s 2018 seed catalogue impatiently. Sometimes my eyes glaze over and I catch myself drifting off forward in thoughts of filling seed trays, potting up, and bright spring sunshine.

garden in snow December 2017
The back garden is covered in snow.

I’m lacking in the TARDIS department, so I return to the cold winter window view of 2017, knowing that at least my planning will be good.

Over the last year I’ve been tuning in to videos by Vivi, who has been allotmenting for years, but in 2017 she put herself out of work and aimed to become self sufficient. Her videos have kept me inspired to keep gardening, to keep trying when it doesn’t quite go to plan, and also to try growing new things (as well as making soups!). She inspired me to grow squashes after watching her harvest a wheelbarrow load off her allotment, so in 2018 I shall be growing some new things… well, new to my gardens anyway.

First Grows

In 2018 I shall try growing:

  • Turnip ‘Snowball
  • Carrot ‘Flyaway F1 Hybrid
  • Carrot ‘Sweet Imperator Mix F1

I bet i’ve tried growing carrots before – i mean, who hasn’t? But the harvest can’t have been successful as I’d have remembered what happened. The latter of the three firsts are those ‘vintage’  kinds of carrots – the yellow, purple, red and orange kinds. So these will be fun to grow. The ‘Flyaway F1 Hybrid’ carrots should, as their name suggest, be ‘fly-away’ for the carrot fly larvae.

Turnips are completely new to me, and I don’t remember them growing on my parents garden either. I’m really into roasting veg, so I shall be roasting these snowy white turnips. I think I can also eat the tops too.

I’ll also be growing a range of Peppers, because I’ve realised that I use quite a lot of these in my cooking – far more than tomatoes, so I shall swap to growing those instead. And what I’m sure will be a mixture of disbelief and amusement of my mother, I’ll also grow some Broad Beans in 2018.

From what were bland-tasting, smelly warts as a child, after 30+yrs, I finally realised that they’re actually quite tasty, healthy, and filling. I know that you can get varieties that can be sown in Autumn, but having missed that boat, I’ve got my eyes on some Spring varieties like Crimson Flowered or Listra instead. Thankfully, you can get away with sowing these as early as February.

But I’ve got to wait to sow the rest of these seeds. Months.

Instead of Christmas shopping (it’s December after all), I ended up on the “1 present for you, 2 presents for me” routine at a local garden centre. Oops. I came home with two packets of seed and a propagator.

Other garden tasks for 2018

Once it’s dry enough, I am going to demolish an old little shed in the back corner of my garden. There’s a much bigger and newer shed opposite it, and I don’t have enough junk to fill both. How this little shed has survived the gales of 2017, it’s anyone’s guess. It has no felt, the door regularly swings open, and I think i could push it over with one generous poke from my index finger… yet still it stands.

A lawn garden with sheds awaiting planting
The little shed on the left is going to get it!

My plan is to carefully remove the pane of glass (I think it’s glass anyway), and then deconstruct it so that I end up with a pile of planks. I then want to recycle it into raised beds, as my one from last year really worked well.

The end of April 2018 will signal the end of my first year in this house, and hopefully by then, I’ll have worked out how areas of my garden perform, and will be able to plant appropriately.

For now though, I shall continue watching the winter garden, feeding the birds, and dreaming of warmer, greener months ahead.