February = time to start seedlings

February marks a turning point in the potager. It is generally the coldest month (although this year it has been very mild!) but it is when the days start to lengthen and it is time to start seeding.

My order of seeds, onion sets and potatoes arrived end of January. I always feel like a child opening a Christmas present when they arrive – such excitement! Since coming to Les B, I have learnt a great deal about growing from seed; some plants require light, others darkness. All require moisture, but not too much, and temperature required for germination ranges from about 10C to 30C
The first week of January I planted onion seeds. Shallots, in particular, are very expensive to buy as sets (bulbs) and the range of white/yellow onions available in sets is limited. Sets are much easier to grow, but I enjoy the challenge of growing some by seed as well.

Putting the seed tray near the wood burner provides a remarkably consistent range of 19 – 21C  which is all onions need to germinate.Once they germinated, I transplanted them to small pots, and they are now in the windowsill of the laundry. I will move them outside  under cover in the next few days to let them harden off before planting them out. 
For the first time I have planted some parsley and basil early.  Parsley is hardy so I can plant it outside soon, but will keep the tender basil in a pot inside until all danger of frost is over.

This week, 29th February,  I planted chillies, peppers and aubergines.  They require heat  (30C is ideal )to germinate, so they are on my new heating mat.  It is fantastic! The cover of clingfilm keeps the moisture in.
Potatoes are now out of the barn and also in Lady Hamilton (guest room cum nursery this time of year!) to chit them in preparation for planting
We are still eating from the garden. Brussels, kale, chard, leeks and leaf celery all cope with the cold and last week I picked the last of the cauliflower. Such a treat in winter!
Because the weather has been so mild the broad beans and peas have flourished and both are flowering so I have had to take the fleece off to enable pollination.  It is not ideal as I am sure we will get heavy frosts in the next few weeks. 
Finally, a photo of my precious curry plant which has survived this winter in my bedroom. This has also been a steep learning curve – last year I watered it too much and it really suffered. This year I have given it a little water every 6 weeks and it is very happy.



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