Gourmet Gardener: February fancies
Our very own Gourmet Gardener, Tara Kate Linnane, looks at February and the start of sowing season...
February marks the beginning of spring, the awakening of the ground from its winter slumber and, while we are still enduring some cold snaps, the slight stretch in the evenings makes it a little bit more bearable.
February is the beginning of sowing season. There are plenty of plants that can crop earlier if sown in February, for example tomatoes, broad beans and Kohl rabi.
Tomatoes can be sown from now until April. The later you sow them the later the crop but, if you sow in two batches, one early and one late, you can have a long season of juicy fruit to harvest. Having multiple sowings can act as an insurance policy if something happens to the first batch.
To sow, I follow the standard process of scattering the seeds lightly into a tray, or a reused punnet or takeaway container. I sow them into damp soil and cover with another layer of compost. I leave them to sit on a sunny windowsill to germinate.
When the seedlings break through, make sure they have adequate sunlight to avoid the plants becoming leggy. They can be pricked out into individual pots once their true leaves appear. I keep them inside in constant temperature until the last frost has passed.
Sowing broad beans now will give an early crop. They can be sown direct into the soil in rows or they can be sown into individual pots to germinate.
The beans can simply be pushed into the soil until covered. Plant them about a foot apart in a double row.Broad beans are great to grow and eat. They are quite versatile as they can be made into burgers, falafels, bean salads and plenty of other things. This year I will be trying to eat as much as possible from the garden and I will be using beans as a staple due to their nutritional benefits.
Kohlrabi is a fast growing brassica. With a flavour similar to turnip, it can be cooked or eaten raw and can work well in coleslaws. Available as green, white or purple varieties, kohl rabi stems grow above the ground. They are beautiful looking plants.
Even though the normal sowing time for Kohl rabi is April onwards, it can be sown now in the polytunnel and will provide tasty roots in a matter of a few short months (10-12 weeks).
The polytunnel will provide the protection it needs to survive. Seeds can be sown into pots or a tray. The seedlings can be pricked out and planted into rows to mature. Kohlrabi does not need a deep soil, as it is the stem that grows into a bulb. Provide plenty of water and a well drained soil.
The spacing for Kohl Rabi is 30cm between plants and 30cm between rows for a good sized Kohl Rabi.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
• Tara Kate Linnane is passionate about sustainability and growing all things edible.
Together with her husband Barry, she has embarked on a journey of designing edible spaces and getting others started on their gardening adventures. Follow their journey on Instagram @twopeas_inapolytunnel or visit thefoodscapedesignco.com to make contact for information.