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News from the Rosemoor Fruit and Veg Garden

Posted by Rosemoor Garden on 16 Feb 2009 at 10:21 AM

Sowing peas in gutters

A good way to grow early peas is to sow them in gutters under glass.

This avoids many problems associated with sowing them in open ground at this time of year, such as rotting off in the wet soil and predation by mice before they have even germinated. They need minimum heat; just enough to give frost protection. A windowsill may even be suitable as long as there is enough light.

First collect together lengths of plastic guttering; 1.1m to 1.2m long is a convenient length.


No drainage holes are necessary as the roots would grow through and prevent removal of the peas at the time of planting. Set the gutters on the glasshouse bench with house bricks at the end to hold them in position and to prevent the soil from falling out. A standard house brick is about twice the height of the gutter and allows extra soil to be added later.


Fill the gutters to the top edge. Lightly firm the compost and water,


then sow the seeds in double rows leaving 4cm between the rows and 2.5cm between the seeds. Sow the seeds alternately, 


water with downturned rose,

Cover the seed with compost to the top of the bricks and water again. The peas will take two to three weeks to germinate and be ready to plant out in March.

Peas in pots
Peas can also be sown in pots for an early start.


This method is best used for the taller cultivars that are planted around a tripod rather than in rows. Six seeds are planted 2.5 – 5cm deep in a 1 litre pot.

Shallots in Pots
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest, but at Rosemoor our heavy soil is unsuitable for planting anything at the end of December. If we were to wait until the soil was suitable to work, typically not until mid February to mid March, we would have lost nearly 3 months’ growing time. In addition, our growing season is often cut short in the summer by the appearance of downy mildew in July. One way around this is to start the bulbs in pots. First trim the tops and roots and plant with about ¾ of the bulb below the surface. We plant one shallot bulb in a 1 litre pot, 

 A smaller 9cm pot would also be suitable, but the larger pot gives us larger plants to plant out.

Spur Pruning and thinning of Trained Fruit
We are shortening spurs on wall fruit this week. On fruit such as apples and pears trained as fans or espaliers, the spurs gradually become congested and elongated away from the main branch. This reduces the quality of the fruit and, when grown against a wall, will prevent the fruit buds from benefiting from the warmth of the wall on frosty nights. Our trees at Rosemoor are now nearly 15 years old and need some thinning to maintain fruit quality.

I’ve also noticed this year that the young bark on the pears seems damaged by small lesions and blisters. This appears to be worse on 1-2 year wood, looking like a “dry” sort of canker.


We’re not absolutely sure, but it fits the description of PEAR BLISTER CANKER VIRUS. The means of transmission is not known and severely damaged trees should be grubbed out and replanted with virus-free stock. There was a lot more scab damage on the pears last year, probably because of the wet summer.

 Garry Preston, Gardener, Fruit & Veg



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