October 2012 newsletter

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Dear Fellow Gardeners,

 

The end of the year is nigh

The growing year is well and truly coming to an end. Outdoor vegetables like leeks, kales and swedes have nestled down for the winter, while indoor crops (such as Oriental leaves) have now been transplanted. Likewise, the onions and squashes have been harvested and put in store, ready to eat through the winter (click here for articles on storing onions and squashes).

Our local town, Bridport, experienced its first frost last weekend, prodding us to finish harvesting the remnants of the summer vegetables (like tomatoes, peppers and courgettes) that are still in the garden. Otherwise, we’ll lose the lot, and considering what an awful growing year it’s been, any more losses will only add insult to injury.

blight in tomatoes waterlogged soil

Outdoor tomatoes with blight; waterlogged soil on our outdoor vegetable patch.

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This year's variety trials

As with most gardening years, 2012 started with an optimism that bordered on excitement. Lots of trials were planned, but alas, many of these came to nothing due to the rainy and cloudy weather we had for a large part of the summer. Most notable were the outdoor tomato and cucumber trials – the tomatoes got blight and the cucumbers were water logged. Though we were discouraged and disappointed with their demise, their failure did point out the risk of growing these vegetables outdoors in Britain. Now the question is whether we should conduct the same trials again in 2013.

Fortunately, not all was a failure, and some of the other outdoor trials – including carrots, lettuces and turnips – highlighted worthy varieties that would be a credit to anyone’s garden.  Equally, our tunnel trials performed admirably, and we found some great tomato, pepper and cucumber varieties that will be added to our ever-expanding catalogue.

 Michael Michaud taking notes Taking notes for Sea Spring Seeds trials

Michael taking notes of the trials: easy peasy trials and lettuces.

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Flower drop in peppers

Each year we are always questioned about flower drop in peppers. This year was no exception, other than the fact that we got more queries than usual. And no wonder: pepper plants respond to stress by dropping their flowers, and the peppers were undoubtedly stressed by the cold, cloudy weather. For those of you whose peppers suffered the indignity of flower drop, don’t despair: 2013 will be sunnier and warmer.

 chilli flowers

The lack of sun this year has stressed pepper plants, causing more than usual flower drop.

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New varitieties for 2013

Sea Spring Seeds’ 2013 catalogue will have 30+ new varieties. These will include both ‘off the shelf’ varieties that we buy from wholesalers and breeders as well as those that are sold only by us.

The varieties we buy will be on sale from 1 November. In contrast, seeds of our own varieties will be available over an extended period of time that stretches from November to December. The reason? We produce the seeds ourselves and most haven’t yet been harvested. And even when they are, they will need to be dried and then tested for germination ­– both time consuming processes that can’t be hurried.

Tangerine Dream chilli New Red Sales lettuce

Two varieties that will be added to our catalog this autumn: Tangerine Dream chilli and New Red Sails lettuce.

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British ethnic

Next year (2013) will also see the continued expansion of our British Ethnic (designated BE on the website) range of vegetables. These are the result of Michael’s plant hunting efforts in immigrant shops and allotments and represent an important part of Britain’s social history. The value of the work was recognised by the Jane Grigson Trust, who in 2001 awarded Michael a bursary to carry out his hunting.

Over the years, Michael has written and spoken extensively about British ethnic foods, and his findings were initially presented at the 1996 Oxford Food Symposium. Click here to read the paper published in the conference proceedings (it will be downloaded as a pdf file).

Amaranthus leaves fig leaf gourd

Two of the new varieties in our British Ethnic range: amaranthus and Shark's Fin Gourd.

 

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We need your help

We are having problems naming one of the new chillies being introduced in our 2013 catalogue. We are, therefore, challenging our customers to come up with a name. Just e-mail your suggestion to us by 1 December, and you could win £20 worth of seeds or plants (your choice). For more information click here.

Chilli variety that needs a name Name the chilli competition

This chilli needs a name – any suggestions?

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Portesham United

The season has started well for the Possums, having won three of their four matches played. So far they are fourth in their League – the Dorset third division. Their next game is at Stalbridge on 20th October, kick-off at 3.00pm.

Go Possums!

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Good gardening and best wishes,

Michael and Joy Michaud

 

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www.seaspringseeds.co.uk / For growing vegetables

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