Kitchen garden
Dad’s kitchen garden in 2012. It’s had a few upgrades since – new fruit trees, finished fruit cage, new raised beds

Spring is upon us – there’s blossom to prove it – although it’s cold and wet and doesn’t look that much different to winter today. The Met Office thoughtfully reminded us that this is normal:

That rabbit doesn’t look any more thrilled to be stuck outside in the snow as gardeners do to be stuck inside!

But March is traditionally one of the busiest seed sowing months, and my Twitter feed is filling up with pictures of tiny seedlings.

For those people who haven’t already bought all of their seeds (and then some!) for the year, then seed companies have started to put together helpful collections of seeds you can sow in any particular month. Dobies recently offered me the chance of a little shopping spree in their seeds to sow in March section. But since I have already done most of my seed shopping, and am really trying to be good and not accumulate mountains of seed packets I will never get around to sowing, I passed this opportunity on to my dad.

My dad (who is in his 70s) has a large vegetable garden in Malvern. He has some help to do the heavy lifting these days, but he enjoys growing his own and my parents eat well from his garden every year. He’s a very traditional vegetable gardener, enjoying straight rows and pesticides and lots of digging and tomatoes, and his seed choices were very different from what mine would have been!

Seeds for March sowing

So what did dear old dad choose?

Asparagus Ariane F1. My dad has a brown thumb when it comes to asparagus. He has tried numerous times to establish an asparagus bed. He’s tried transplanting established crowns given to him by a friend (not likely to succeed), planting young crowns (normally fine), growing from seed and (twice) planting potted asparagus plants that I have bought for him. Mine are fine. His died. No idea why. Anyway, you have to admire his perseverance, and he’s trying again this year!

Aubergine Ophelia F1. Mum and dad like aubergines. I don’t, I think they’re horrid (although the plants are lovely – furry leaves and big flowers). Dad (who trained as a chef) used to make me eat moussaka with aubergines as a kid, and ratatouille. Each to their own. Anyway, he has a nice greenhouse (normally filled with tomatoes and cucumbers – the basis for a traditional English summer salad) so these should be fine.

Broccoli Seeds – Continuity Duo Pack. He’s big on brassicas, my dad. I’m with him on broccoli (and calabrese), although our opinions divide over the more cabbage-like versions. This one is two choices, really – the pack contains both calabrese Marathon F1 and broccoli Stromboli F1. We will no doubt be commiserating each other about the cabbage white caterpillars later in the year.

Cabbage Vivaldi F1. A traditional heading cabbage. I would never give up space to these in my garden, but dad has more of it. We only ever eat cabbage when my parents feed it to us, anyway. Red cabbage is OK, I like that (although it’s still too big for the garden), but the green types have yet to win me over.

Lettuce Nymans. A nice frilly, red-leaved variety. It’s designed to be hearting, and I only ever bother with cut-and-come again salad leaves, but it’s a fun choice for dad.

And finally:
Tomato Golden Sunrise. Dad grows several types of tomatoes every year, my parents eat a lot of tomatoes. He does a mix of old favourites and tries a new one or two. This one has an RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM), and it’s yellow, so it will be one of the ones he grows for variety. I don’t normally grow tomatoes (we don’t like raw tomatoes), unless they’re wacky. I do have some wacky tomatoes from Dobies this year, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Dad’s greenhouse. There’s a biannual palaver getting the staging in (for the winter/spring) and out (to make room for the tomatoes).

So this is what seed shopping looks like if you’re traditional and have lots of space! What do you think of dad’s choices?