Open-Polinated Herb & Vegetable Seeds

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Growing Instructions

Aubergines

Aubergines like a long hot growing season, and so need to be in a green house or polytunnel. They also need a warm place to germinate so I like to start them on a window sill in the house or in a propagator. The seedlings will be killed by frost and will not thrive when nights are cold. So unless you have a heated greenhouse or conservatory, restrain yourself from sowing them till February. Prick out the seedlings into 10cm pots when they have a couple of real leaves and keep them cosy until they are planted out in their final positions in April or May. Here, we dig a trench in the polytunnel in spring and fill it up with well-rotted FYM. The trench is covered up with soil again and then with ground cover. The ground cover has holes 60cm apart and the plants are planted through these holes. Pinch out the tip of the plant when it is about 30cm high to stop them getting too tall and falling over. Cut the fruit when they are well formed and before they have lost their shine. To save the seeds the fruit must be left until they are really ripe. The skin changes from shiny black to a dull brown color, then just before it rots it can be harvested. There is no easy way to get the seeds out. We grate the fruit into a container, cover the pulp with water and leave in a warm place for a couple of days. Whisk the mix a few times when you are passing and most of the seeds will fall to the bottom, then the water and pulp can be poured off leaving the seeds in the container. They will keep for several years when dried and stored in a cool place.

Parsnips

Although traditionally sown in February, germination is slow, and sowing in April or May is often more successful. If the weather is cool and damp slugs will eat the lot. Sow thinly in rows 30cm apart. The ground should be fertile but not recently manured with fresh FYM, as this may cause roots to fork. They need to be kept weed free and protected from slugs as they germinate. Thin to 10cm as soon as possible. The first parsnips can be dug in October and they will store in the ground until at least February.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are happiest in a greenhouse or polytunnel. The seeds need a warm place, like a propagator, or kitchen windowsill, to germinate. They will be killed by frost and will not thrive when nights are cold. So unless you have a heated greenhouse or conservatory, restrain yourself from sowing them till February or March. Prick out the seedlings into 10cm pots when they have a couple of real leaves and keep them cosy until they are planted out in their final positions in April or May. Here we dig a trench in the polytunnel in spring, and fill it up with well-rotted FYM. The trench is covered up with soil again and then with ground cover. The plants are planted through the ground cover 60cm apart. They need regular watering and cordon varieties will need to be supported with a string or a stick and to have their side-shoots removed. The seeds are ready to be saved when the tomato is really ripe.

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