Seedling plans (401 days to go)

by Max Akroyd


A mini-watershed moment arrived yesterday as I finally cleared the hardening off tables – the last of the lettucey things and brassicas taking their places on the field.

Attention quickly switched to the next sowings. I attempted to step back from the flurry of activity momentarily and organise things according to defined needs. For example, I need a range of tomatoes. Ones for preserving, ones for cooking, ones for eating fresh… This required a modest analysis of the tomato seedlings which have made it so far. The slings and arrows of the weather, and some really crappy seed compost, have reduced their numbers and diversity considerably. Anyway, I potted them all on and noted down their names. Luckily they represent a decent range of varieties, 25 in total, and potential uses (blight willing).

Next under review were the herbs. At present just a large right angle of plastic mulch, we’re planning an extensive herb garden adjacent to the Kitchen Garden area. I scoured the pots of seedlings to find some likely candidates for planting their. I found these:

  • Sage (5 plants)
  • Valerian (9 plants – the nice wild one, not the ubiquitous red one)
  • Summer savory (12 plants – is this the weediest seedling known to humankind? Great herb though…)
  • Chamomile (loads)
  • Rosemary (6)
  • Achillea (we’ll pretend it’s yarrow)
  • French Tarragon (2)
  • Basil (lots)
  • Foxgloves (ditto)

A reasonable start, but there’s lots more still to sow: hyssop, borage and marjoram being the ones I’m most enthusiastic about. I finally got the parsley sorted, and in doing so reminded myself why I usually forget this plant: it needs soaking for a while in hot water first. (I was going to soak them in urine like the old texts say, but when it came to sowing them I’d just been…). By the time you’ve strained each variety and tried to unstick it from your fingers after you’ve sown them, it all amounts to a whole heap of faff. But what’s the point of cooking without herbs?