Planting Seeds and an Invitation to an Introductory Growing Course

I think the main reason that I start planting seeds at this time of year is just to connect myself to the seasons and to the optimism of spring. But it is also worth reminding myself that growing organically and close to home can produce better quality fruit and veg which is also more sustainable. There is the satisfaction of knowing that, whether the fruit and veg is home grown or bought, organic growing usually produces all round healthier and richer environments. Wildlife will flourish and the soil will be improved. Modern, non organic horticulture takes little account of this.

Each April I make the same mistake. I’m so keen to see things growing that I start to plant seedsvegetable seeds in pots and trays on my windowsill before the light levels are really high enough. Right now there are one or two rather scrawny seedlings, planted in March, desperate for some prolonged sunshine. These can be rescued (by re-potting them and planting them really deep in their new compost so that only the leaves and not the stalks are above compost levels) but it might be better to start some of them again so that longer days and brighter sun will give sturdier plants. Now is a good time to plant most seeds. On the windowsill tomatoes, courgettes, lettuces, aubergines celery and peppers will appreciate a warm, sunny start. A few of the more tender plants which come from hot countries – sweetcorn and squash for instance – might do better sown indoors in a week or two. This means that when they are finally planted outdoors they won’t sulk through cool nights. Last summer the nights were really quite cool through much of the summer and so these plants didn’t really do half as well as they had the previous summer. When you decide to re-pot or pot on your seedlings remember it is better to handle them by their leaves rather than by their stems. They can survive a little damage to chitting-potatotheir leaves but, if their stems are held too tightly and slightly crushed they are not able to move liquids through their systems and can fail.

Outdoors beetroots, carrots, early peas, broad beans, parsley and coriander can be given a first sowing now. If a few fail in the cold, well, seeds are cheap and a second sowing in a week or two might work better. You might risk some of your early potatoes, which have been “chitted” indoors, being planted outside now. If the frost gets their first flush of leaves they will probably grow a second lot. If not you will have early, tasty potatoes before you have become bored with shop bought new potatoes.

LEARNING TO GROW – INTRODUCTORY FRUIT AND VEG GROWING COURSE

I am hoping to run an introductory fruit and veg growing course on Saturday, May 21st. This is intended for beginners who are wondering what they can achieve on windowsills, in gardens or in allotments. We will start at my house on the edge of Larkhall where I will show the potential of gardens for fruit growing and talk about fruit preserving. We will move to my allotment a couple of hundred metres away where I will show my own deep beds and walk round the site to see other people’s techniques. There are lots of different growing methods but I will spend most of the time on the deep bed, organic, no-dig methods which I use. I will also talk about setting up an allotment share. I’ll show you a few useful books on growing and pruning, give useful sources of seeds and plants and generally try to answer any of your questions.

There is then the option of having lunch together at Alice Park or going home for lunch and then meeting up again at Alice Park Gardens. There we can see some of the joys of gardening together, talk to the community gardeners and see their growing methods. The day will last from around 10am to around 3pm and will be mostly based on your questions and some simple demonstrations.  The course will cost £5 per person.  If you are interested in attending please contact Fi Williams at fiona.williams@greenliving.co.uk for full details.

If you need any questions answered please get in touch via john.ingham@yahoo.co.uk.