Warming up (449)

by Max Akroyd

It’s an obscure time out there at the moment. No sign of the burgeoning energy of spring – in fact, everything appears at its lowest ebb, like a sprinter inhaling deeply before the big race.

However, for the first time in a while, the five day forecast is for temperatures above zero, night and day. Only just, it has to be said, but there’s probably enough prospective warmth to break the current restraint on growth. At such a moment, it feels necessary to step back and review the gardening production line from seed in the greenhouse, through hardening off, to planting out in the soil: just to make sure there are no bottlenecks forming.

By only planting out the hardiest things so far I’ve kept more or less on schedule in that regard. There’s the possibility of a potato planting backlog if I don’t prepare more ground for them though. After limbering up with Pig Mucking Out Exercise Plan™, I dug another 10 metres of potato trench this morning in the Triangle.


Trench time again...


It’s a bit rough, but good enough for potatoes; my latest seed acquisition being the sexily named BF15. I’m going to plant a lot of this potato seed in the lazy beds, but I confess that I’m a bit dubious about their potential for success, hence the back up of more familiar beds. Potatoes are the one crop which, by decree of my spouse, shall not fail!

Further back in the growing process things are looking a little messy. The supply of new plants from the greenhouse particularly is stuttering a bit. The unusually cold February and March appears to have caused the peppers and chillies sown thus far to fail and the tomatoes and aubergines which have germinated seem stuck at seed leaf stage. There comes a point that anything not forthcoming in the propagators has to be cleared off and replaced, and anything showing true leaves (a batallion of brassicas) gets potted on. That sounds like this afternoon’s task! 


Out of the jaws of that east wind, it was very pleasant in the greenhouse. All the seedlings were very dry thanks to all the sunshine recently so they were given a good soaking, safe in the knowledge they wouldn’t be subject to hard frost or the stale air of winter.

Watering time - at last

Having discarded any no-hopers on the propagators and moved off the trays of emergent seedlings, there was lots of room available around the place for sowings of fun things like cardoons, good king henry, seakale, patience dock, Turkish rocket… all destined for the Perennial Beds. I got so absorbed in the sowing process that I had no time to get changed before the school run. Accordingly, I appeared at the school gate looking like a peasant of yesteryear. Which beats rolling up in a Porsche every time.