25 Jan 2012

First signs?


I love the synchronicity of the gardening world; bloggers are commenting on the first signs of spring, trees beginning to bud, bulbs pushing through the soil and anxiously hoping that a harsh but late winter isn't waiting just around the corner. I'm not going to offer an opinion on the weather as it has a nasty habit of contradicting me soon after I've published my thoughts.

But I'm no different from other gardeners in getting hopeful of an early spring.  Today, as I peeked out onto my balcony, I was excited to notice this tiny little patch of new growth. This is French Tarragon, new to the balcony last year and frankly, a bit spindly in it's first year. I thought it had died but resolved to wait until spring to make sure.  Now it looks as though it will be a good, sturdy addition to the herbs at my disposal - even if it is still only one inch tall.  And in case the weather turns, I have a cut down water bottle as an impromptu cloche to protect the plant if needed.

Other bloggers' posts have reminded me that I have to sow onion seed and broad beans now. (Actually, like Jo at The Good Life, I intensely disliked broad beans as a child but I'm tempted by some rather beautiful pink beans I've spotted on the internet.) Also, I couldn't find the white onion sets I wanted and one bulb had run to seed late last year so I rather laboriously dried the seed head and saved the seed. It will be the first time I've grown onions from seed, so an interesting challenge lies ahead.  I may even have to invest in a little balcony sized wooden greenhouse I've seen - I think I'm going to need it now my seed list is nearly finished!

~ Snowball white onion seeds - sorting the seeds from the chaff. ~

18 comments:

  1. I'm interested that you have French Tarragon starting to grow. The plant I had that survived the winter was not French but Russian Tarragon. I had been sold it as the French
    I have the potatoes chitting and onions sets ready to go. You have reminded me of the other seeds to sow.

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    1. I've read that Russian tarragon is less flavoursome than French tarragon but is a hardier plant - and you have the benefit of flowers! French tarragon doesn't flower (so no seed saving) but can be propagated from root division. I believe once it gets going, it can be a bit of a garden thug, like mint! I'd better watch out! I must get my potato order done so that I can start chitting.

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  2. It's exciting to see signs of new growth, glad you've got a cloche on hand though, you never know when you might need it. Those pink beans are rather tempting, though I've bought the last of this year's seeds now so I really mustn't. A balcony sized mini greenhouse sounds exciting, just think of all the extra things you'll be able to grow. I've got a greenhouse but it's only small, 4'X6' but it allows me to grow some things which I wouldn't otherwise be able to, as well as overwintering tender plants, and of course, getting seeds started a little earlier. Thanks for the link.

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    1. I'm always rather envious when I read of other people's greenhouses which is why I've been tempted by this one; I like the idea of keeping my windowsills uncluttered which is what happens in the Spring as I start seedlings off. I thought I might need the cloche a couple of nights ago as the skies cleared and it was freezing; however, no frost, so all is well.

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  3. My tarragon was like yours - a little spindly - then I thought it had died - but I took its pot into the greenhouse for the winter and when I looked the other day there are lots of little shoots coming up. It obviously takes them some time to get established.

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    1. It's a new herb to me Elaine so I have to get used to it's behaviour. I've read it's a bit like mint: dies back in the winter then springs up again from the roots. Better watch out for it's size though, apparently it gets quite tall so possibly not the best for my balcony!!

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  4. We were tempted to buy a greenhouse when I saw the length of my seed list but we might be moving in the next couple of years and there's enough to move without having to dismantle a greenhouse. I do have 2 coldframes though which have made a big difference, freeing up space on my windowsills. I agree it is so exciting to see new life emerging but I'm trying to not get too carried away in case the weather turns wintry. I've found I can post if I use the anonymous profile, so will just use that for now, Wellywoman.

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    1. How strange that you're having problems leaving comments, Welly. Hopefully the glitch will resolve itself soon and thanks for taking the time to find a way to comment! I almost had a Freecycled greenhouse last summer but then realised that I have to have pvc panels as it would be in a communal area - one football and my plants, and glass, would be shattered!n Balcony option is more compact and safer!

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  5. As you say there are lots of 'first signs' so fingers crossed that the rest of the winter is mild and it's a good spring! Flighty xx

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    1. Oh I do hope so Flighty! I'm hoping for some good strong peppers and more tomatoes this year so an early mild start would be welcome. We've had a few chilly nights this week though but the clear skies and star gazing have been lovely!

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  6. Oh, good luck with the onions from seed! Sounds as if your tarragon will make it whatever the weather throws at us next. My rosemary is flowering and the mint is still growing, though the leaves look a little sorry for themselves. Strange winter...

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    1. Thanks Janet! Sounds like you've already done that and had a challenge! Gosh, rosemary flowering already? My chives are starting to flower which is rather early but don't forget that both rosemary and chive flowers are edible and needn't be wasted!

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  7. I also hated broad beans but just love, love them since I started growing my own. Also one of the full proof things I have grown whether sowing in Autumn or spring. I might just go and sow some if I get time, thanks for the prompt!

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    1. Lorna I've just been reading about red broad beans. They're apparently more palatable than the green beans plus, of course, you get fabulous red or deep pink flowers. Even I could be swayed ... !

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  8. Good luck with growing onions from seed, I don't think I've got the patience, or the space, although I have been known to have some sets I didn't plant. I wish there were smaller packets as I don't have that much space.

    I love broad beans, but small, fresh broad beans the size of 2 or 3 peas are quite a different vegetable from the large floury beans, which I think are best dried and used in soups. I hope you have a good crop to enjoy. I just planted a row yesterday.

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    1. Hello Karin, thanks for commenting! I quite enjoy growing veg from seed, it's so satisfying to watch the first leaves come through and know that you've nurtured a plant into life. I find that even growing 100 each of red and white onions, they quickly get used up. They don't have hugely deep roots, why not try growing a few spares in pots? I've yet to work out where all mine will go - it'll be another season of squeezing things in, I suspect!

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  9. Where did you pick up your French Tarragon seeds/plants? I've grown the Russian variety before but it's really a waste of time - horrible flavour.

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    1. I can't recall exactly Tanya but I think it may have been Homebase last summer. Although I don't rate them as a plant supplier, I always have a look to see what's on offer when I'm there and occasionally succumb. If in doubt, though, go to Jekka McVicar's website.

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