The snow and sub zero temperatures that arrived in late December have disappeared and the forcast for this week is a damp 7ºC with overnight hovering around 0ºC. I am optimistic that my garlic which I "rescued" from beneath frozen snow after it had been buried for more than a week appears to have survived. Its leaves, although still bent over, are looking stronger and greener. 

Lacking heated indoor space to overwinter aubergine and chilli plants I swaddled the best of the trimmed down plants in fleece, packed them into open cardboard boxes and left them in the polytunnel. I don't think they will have survived the extended cold spell. I read somewhere that they will survive down to about 4ºC.  Last year the winter was fairly mild and the poly tunnel keeps the temperature a few degrees above the outside temperature so I thought it worth the experiment.

Outdoors I only have a few savoy cabbages, almost ready to harvest, (as well as a few remaining leeks and swedes). Last winter I lost all my cauliflowers, the cabbages struggled and the broccoli plants, planted 15 months ago, appear to be thriving but as yet I've had no significant spears, however I'm still hopeful for end February and March.

This year, instead of planting outdoors, I am trying brassica varieties which were advertised as suitable for growing over winter in poly tunnels. I sowed them - calabrese broccoli Matsui F1, cauliflower Zaragoza F1 and cabbage Duncan - in early August and tranferred them into hadopots from end of August to mid September.  It took me a while to get the watering and nutrients right. I had a few problems with some of the cabbage leaves turning red and as the temperature was reasonable and the soil not wet I fed with a little phosphorous fertiliser and sprayed the leaves with a weak solution of epsom salts, which seemed to fix it. After that, until the weather turned cold the main problem was slugs but by mid December the calabrese and some of the cauliflowers had started to develop heads.

Brassicas overwintering in poly-tunnel

These pictures were taken mid December. Since then the plants are continued to develop well and I am very optimistic for an early Spring harvest.

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Last year I decided to sow all my over winter broad beans (Super Aquadulce) and peas (Douce Provence) indoors, so this season I sowed two batches, one in mid October and the other early December, of each in root trainers. I transplanted the first batch of broad beans into 15cm pots in mid December and the first batch of peas into hadopots today (January 11th).  For a bit of colour next Summer I also sowed some sweet peas.

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The Autumn broad beans I purchased as plants were late arriving due to a supply problem - I was offered the chance to cancel but took the risk, planting them in late August - they grew and were still flowering when the weather turned cold and wet. I got a few beans from them but nothing much. I'll know next time not to plant too late on in the season.

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And today I began sowing leeks (Stromboli), carrots (Amsterdam forcing 3 -Sprint) and another batch of cauliflower (All year round) which I have put to germinate in a spare room. Later this week I will begin sowing chilli, but they will be heading for the propogator, and chinese salad leaves & cabbage.