Spring planting under way

What strange times we live in at the moment. Covid-19 is also affecting life on the farm and in the kitchen garden. I already miss tea breaks and lunches in the bread barn which have fallen victim to social distancing. The advice to stay at home poses its own challenges, as does the closure of all non-essential shops, which presumably includes garden centres. So instead of buying plug-plants locally, we might have to get them online – which I hope will still be possible. Otherwise we might end up with a lot less veg than planned.

Luckily, the potatoes and onions are already in the ground. This year, there are two different varieties each, ‘Maris Peer’ and ‘Carlingford’ as well as ‘Stuttgarter Giant’ and ‘Karmen’.

‘Maris Peer’ performed well last autumn and I hope it’ll do just as well this spring. ‘Carlingford’ replaces ‘Arran Pilot’ which unfortunately, suffered from potato blight last year. I suspect that I crammed in too many plants into one bed and together with humid conditions, it created the perfect environment for the disease. So I might only have to blame myself but better safe than sorry – ‘Carlingford’ is a variety which is supposed to do well in containers and raised beds. I’ve also increased the space between rows to 60cm. This should help with air circulation and reduce the risk of blight.

This is the first time we’re growing onions so it’s an exciting experiment. ‘Karmen’ is a red onion which can be used for cooking and in salads. It is said to produce a heavy crop of red-skinned bulbs with a sweet, yet crunchy white flesh. It also stores well.

‘Stuttgarter Giant’ is close to my heart as I grew up in Stuttgart, Germany. Stuttgart is surrounded by vineyards and every autumn, new wine and ‘Zwiebelkuchen’, a type of onion quiche, are sold in a special type of pub called ‘Besenwirtschaft’. It brings back fond childhood memories and I really hope ‘Stuttgarter Giant’ will do well in our Scottish climate. Zwiebelkuchen, here I come!

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