Sowing Swede Invitation Seeds

Mr Fothergills Invitation Swede Seed Packet

I particularly love root vegetables so I was keen to try my hand at growing swede. I chose this variety called Invitation from Mr Fothergill's which claims to be a disease resistant variety and winter hardy. You can sow these from May to July.

I was probably pushing my luck starting these off towards the end of July but they are being grown in containers so I can move them into the polytunnel as the weather requires. Otherwise they'll be outdoors. I'm planning to grow these in bags as they get bigger which may not be the best idea for swede but I don't yet have a vegetable plot so it's container gardening or nothing at this stage.

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This packet is stuffed with approx 750 seeds which are really far to many for me. As with the turnips that I sowed at the same time, I chose to make two sowings a day apart and try out two styles of containers: one was a Gardman windowsill seedling kit and the other were some fibre pots. It's a good job I did do this as well.

Information on This Variety

Position: full sun
Hardiness: hardy
Sowing Months: May, June, July
Harvest Months: October, November, December, January, February, March
Height: 30cm (12in)
Spread: 25cm (10in)

Mr Fothergill's Invitation Swede Seed Packet

I sowed two lots of 20 seeds. 20 into individual little plastic modules shown in the photo below and 20 in some tiny fibre pots designed for seedlings. Each module had more than one seed sown in each as I intend to prick out the weakest ones that germinate.

For the soil, I chose John Innes No. 1 compost and made sure to firm this in well and wet it through before sowing. The packet said to sow 1.5 cm deep but since I was sowing into tiny pots instead of directly outdoors which is the norm, I decided to go with the commonly held adage of sowing at the size of the seed. These seeds are tiny, so I carefully pushed them just below the surface of the soil and scraped a fine amount over the top.

Seeds germinating in plastic container modules

Since I am known to overwater things, I used a tip I picked up online to use a spray bottle to water seedlings with and other items such as cuttings. Since I've had to keep these seeds in the polytunnel most of the time due to bad weather, I've been spraying them over with a fine mist two or three times a day just to keep them damp and stop the soil from drying out.

The photo above shows the seeds just as some are beginning to germinate. The packet said that seedlings should appear in 14-21 days. These ones appeared after 7 days. At present, the ones potted up in the plastic modules are germinating well however the ones potted in the fibre pots have not yet germinated at all. I noticed that the fibre pots need to be watered a lot more than the plastic ones as the pots suck up the moisture where the plastic pots don't. In future, I will be sticking to plastic I think.

I haven't really enjoyed using the fibre pots. Apart from needing to work harder to prevent the soil from drying out in these, I just don't like how the pots go a bit squishy, they don't sit nice and level on the counter top as the plastic ones do and I'm really not sold on the idea of using them. I'm glad I've tried them but they're really not for me.

Seedlings growing with swede and turnip

The Swede Seedlings (left side) at 9 Days Growth

I am extremely happy with the Gardman seed and plant raising kit that I bought (in the photo above) which is really working well at getting my seeds to germinate. The soil stays damp for longer which means less spraying, the base means there is no mess with water run off and the clear plastic lid is useful both for germination and also keeping pigeons off my seedlings when they are outside. 

So that product gets a thumbs up and I shall be ordering more of those. No idea how many times the modules will last as they are a little flimsy but, if I'm careful, I will hopefully get two or three uses from them. They were pretty cheap as well.

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