Strong roots beat the birdies

Starting shallots in pots.
Starting shallots in pots.

It’s years since we planted shallots straight from the bag into the spring soil outdoors but I do remember vividly the sparrows and jackdaws mischievously flicking them to the four winds afterwards.

They can’t now though, not with the robust root system they have when planted out.

Three popular varieties: Golden Gourmet, Red Sun and Sturon, 25 of each, have been planted into individual pots which also stand on the greenhouse bench at present.

Next up are the beans (runner, broad and dwarf), followed by sweet corn and courgettes. The beans, corn and courgettes are planted singly to a small pot, and peas go in threes.

This is all demanding of greenhouse space at a time we will be trying to accommodate plug plants of various ornamentals but there is such a buzz attached to growing them all and it works well.

I prefer this approach rather than starting all the vegetables off from seed, sown outdoors, on a cold spring day, then gazing at a bare plot and willing them to germinate for weeks afterwards.

Our main growing season can be remarkably short so any small advantage gained is worth the effort.

So the seeds, bulbs and tubers being encouraged into growth now, will be semi-mature plants when the time is right for them to go out.

Broad beans, peas and shallots will be first in line for planting from mid-March onwards.

On that day, they will transform the vegetable garden landscape at a stroke, no gaps in the lines from failed germinations and a head start in growth terms over any weeds.