Seed success in Italy

Finally, I found a place with decent and fresh seeds.



Every Saturday, there is an amazing outdoor market that is set up in the Prato della Valle in Padova.  It’s not the famous fruit market in the city centre, even though it is bigger and does have quite the variety of fruit and vegetable venders.  There are also more shoe and clothes venders than I could ever imagine too.  But at the far end there are the plant venders.  Ohhh, if I were going to stay here in the long-term I could very easily rack up a huge debt buying the lovely citrus trees they are selling at the moment.  From tiny round kumquats to massive and funky hands of Buddha.  There are also the standard lemon and orange trees too.  It makes me want to plant my own little citrus grove, like the one in Riverside California that is home to one of the largest collection of citrus species.  And kids are allowed to just run through the orchard there, enjoying the trees bejeweled with fruits.  As a parent, the occasional windfallen orange may find it’s way into my purse and then mouth… Although strictly forbidden!

I really need to stop dreaming about my California days!  Gees, I’m in gorgeous Italy for goodness sakes!

So, I did fine two venders that sold seeds at Prato della Valle, and one of them had my trendy purple vegetables.  Yeah! So I shall try out growing my own purple tomatoes and carrots.  Antioxidants here I come!

I also seem to be the only person in the world who doesn’t grow my own lettuce, so I finally bought a package of cut and come again greens.  Now, I can’t wait for summer.


Planting out the veg plot

It has taken me seven years to figure out how to grow flowers in Scotland.  I think that if the little old lady who we bought our flat from could see our garden now, she might not break down in tears.  Two years ago she certainly would have wept to see its decline, but now that I have figured out what is flower and what is weed, it is certainly on the up!

I tried to plant some cabbages and cauliflower in the garden about four years ago, but within weeks of planting out lovely little baby plants, worms and slugs destroyed any semblance of green.   Needless to say, this southern California girl that was used to sowing any sort of seed straight into the garden and watching it thrive with lots of watering, was depressed, downhearted and determined to NEVER plant veg again.

But, my recent Great Energy Race (GERace) efforts have made me more determined to finally master growing vegetables and fruit in the garden.  I have had a great bounty from my red currants, so this year as part of the GERace, I planted four different berries – tayberry, raspberry, blueberry and cranberry.  I’m pretty confident that we’ll have a lovely berry bounty this Summer and Autumn, but I also wanted to conquer my fear of growing vegetables!  So…

After definitely pulling a muscle in my back last weekend, turning the compost heap, adding the best compost bits to the newly cleared veg plot and turning the whole thing over thoroughly, I am started again in a big way to see if I can start to learn how to grow vegetables in the UK.  Lord only knows, it’s not as easy as in California.  But at least I never need to water anything here!


So, my windowsill propagator has been putting in lots of overtime and I have tried my very best not to spend too much on new seeds.  But for about £10, I’ve gotten myself quite a nice selection of standards like carrots, radishes and parsnips, and also some less common fruits like tomatillos, cucamelons and physalis (Inca berry or Cape Gooseberry).  And of course lots of herbs for the kitchen windowsill too.  I am really looking forward to harvesting and eating my efforts, but I am also not getting my hopes up too much.  I’ve already planted out a litte cucamelon seedling after weeks of frost free weather, only to see this week’s forcast for a late frost…  Oh well, hopefully my reused pasta sauce jar cloche will protect it.


I was totally inspired this week after watching Gardener’s World, so I have sowed a row of radishes with parsnips, in-between carrot seeds sowed a week apart.  We’ll see what happens.  I need to plant a bit more though, but I think that my two pumpkin seedlings and the other fruit will take up a fair bit of the plot, so I should conserve space for them.  I will try my best to wait until the end of May to put these little guys outside to avoid a late frost disaster.