The truth is, for many seeds and for many gardeners, it’s just too early.
However, if you have access to a covered area that allows in plenty of light, whether this is a glasshouse, greenhouse, porch with glass, windowsill, coldframes, conservatory, artificial grow room, or other ingenious invention, there is always an opportunity to try growing something. In my case, let me update you on what’s sowing on here, using the #six-on-Saturday meme format from Mr. Propagator.
First up are some very early potatoes, using the technique promoted by Nicky Kyle. This involves an early January chitting of some early potatoes, (in my case the variety is a second early called ‘Jester’), potting them up in later January or early February and then growing them under cover, well protected by fleece. Nicky talks about harvesting hers from her polytunnel in April, so I’m excited (a) to get them that far and (b) to harvest them, even by early May would be an achievement for me …
Peas. What can more can I say about them. Well, plenty actually, however for the purposes of this blog post, let me just say I found them to be very accommodating to my needs and oblige by germinating when I give them a wee bit of heat and moisture. The last batches I sowed was in late autumn in the greenhouse, and they grew and yielded a nice little novelty crop of some shoots and then peas before the very cold weather kicked in. This time around I’ve germinated them on a moist tissue, in a tray, in my little propagator. Yesterday, I then transplanted them into some compost in some pots for a windowsill in the house. They’ll grow here for a few more weeks and I’ll then harvest those delicious green shoots.
And then there’s the testing old seed to check how viable they are. As gardeners, we’re forever purchasing seeds, as well as swapping them, trading them and collecting off our own plants. But what happens when you invariably forget about a packet, and then find it long after it’s out of date. Well, this is the situation I found myself in this year. Last time I did a good clean out of my seeds was 2014, so I’m left with packets I’m wondering if they’re any good. So, I’m taking a sample of each packet or batch, and similarly to how I germinated the pea seeds, placing them on some moist tissue and providing some heat to see what’s viable and what requires composting. Watch this space …
More peas, only this time they’re the ever so sweet ones – sweet peas. My garden is rarely without these and here are some autumn seedlings potted on and pinched back, for an early 2018 show. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you only get around to planting these next month, that’s timely for a lovely summer show. However, I like to see these guys and gals in flower as early as possible, so by doing an autumn sowing I might gain a little treat of a couple of weeks earlier than the spring grown crops. And honestly, to smell these really means it’s summer time !
I enjoy reading and watching what other gardeners do. I really enjoy other people’s blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. on gardening. Add this to magazine articles and books I dip into and that is a body of information to absorb and understand, particularly when you see contradictory information ! I don’t let this stop me though. However, it is worth mentioning there are one or two people I pay particular attention to. Not only because they are very experienced and have lots of tips and techniques to share, but also they are quite local so they have a good understanding of what’s going on in my part of the country weather wise, soil wise, etc. While I am always slow to recommend any one blog as it’s not a fair reflection on all the knowledge and sharing, I do have to give a special mention to Nicky Kyle over on http://nickykylegardening.com, as not only is she an experienced organic vegetable grower, she gardens in the same county I live in and has a great understanding of the local climate. On Twitter there is a wider community of garden bloggers that are easy to find thanks to the #gdnbloggers, well worth checking out and seeing who is local to you along with the fore mentioned #sixonsaturday.
Finally, for the seed sowing year ahead, look at social media and follow a few hash tags (#) of annuals and other plants you’re interested in growing. It allows the sharing of tips and hints for growing as well as the success and learnings (i.e. when something doesn’t work out, as invariably happens, and you learn from it for next year). Last year, and again this year, Nichola Walker is inspiring people by hosting the #sweetpeachallenge, so I’m enjoying that. After some harassment by me Lou Nichols spoke about a kohlrabi challenge – have to follow up on this one. Of course two of my hashtags I use frequently are #dahlialove and #summergarden, and as I’ve been sow and doing seed tests I’ve tried to remember to use #sowingseed. My social media of choice is Twitter and YouTube along with Instagram. Whatever you use, do look out for useful hashtags to follow and join.
So even though it’s still too early (and cold) for sowing most annual seeds, there are some you can crack on with and do, and, there are plenty of other things to keep our interest while we prepare for mid March, which is only a few weeks away. Do follow the link above and read Nicky’s February blog posts, she’ll set you in the right direction…
All that remains to say is thank you for your time and attention, and for all the comments, favs and laughs – and of course hit that subscribe or follow button.
All the best until next time, Hugh.