Seed Sowing in March

This post was written earlier this week – sorry about the delay!

I’ve had to swap my days at work this week because at 4am on Monday morning, I was wide awake with a dodgy back that spasmed and would not let me rest. At 28, this is a muscular problem that I’ve lived with for years and, if I’m honest, really pisses me off. I get osteopathy, I stretch, I’m now building core strength at the gym, but it’s still getting me. And so early in the growing season, too. Pah. Well, all I can do is keep stretching, keep building my back and core strength and hopefully, one day, I won’t have to (mis)manage it so carefully.

Last Friday and Saturday I spent in and out of London, riding on the Tube, battling crowds, and seeing friends. The seeing friends part was great, but London just doesn’t really *do* anything for me anymore. I used to think it was busy and exciting and full of cultural wonders. OK, I concede there’s a lot to see there – we went to Borough Market and there were some great food stalls there, and I do enjoy the museums – but… I wouldn’t want to be in the thick of it. I’m just not a crowded place kind of person. It’s been a bit of a revelation for me because so many of my school friends have moved there (we’re only about 50 mins away from central London on the train), and in the back of my mind I always wondered what I was missing out on. If I’d make a mistake in not moving there with them, being a part of that whole scene.

But even after two days of being in and out of central London, east London, west London… I just think, geesh, I couldn’t be there every day. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s this feeling that you just have to keep going because you can’t stop, there just isn’t time and you’ll get in the way. Then there’s noise. And stuff. And people everywhere. No downtime. And then this feeling of competition and fighting your way out because you don’t want to be sucked into a big, faceless crowd.

Man. I just couldn’t be bothered with it, you know? Give me a field, or a beach any day. So I guess that’s good. No more regrets about “what could have been”. OK, so it might be different if you only live a stone’s throw from a hip little artisan market or wotnot, and you only have to do two stops on the tube to get home and relax. But my word, was I yearning for peace. And strangely, I really wanted to be on a beach and see the sea. Probably the London smog boggling my brain.

So apart from copious amounts of travelling and catching up with good friends, I’ve also been starting to tackle the stupendous amount of clearing, tidying, sowing and so forth that is piling up. Sunday afternoon, I decided to take my laptop to the bath* and catch up on Monty’s return to Gardener’s World. I will just say that it is SO good to have him back. He said something along the lines of “this time of year is so busy, with clearing up after winter and sowing”, and I thought “YES MONTY! Thank YOU! I KNOW! It really is!”.

Monty knows, you see. He really does. It was like being handed a pass that says “we know there’s so much to do, but you know, it’s fine”. Probably like a lot of other amateur gardeners and veg growers, I guess that I don’t do things by the book. Classic example – my second lot of garlic that I bought weeks ago still isn’t in, but I’ll wing it, because things usually turn out OK. I might harvest things a bit later and mess it up a bit, but I usually come away with something. And for instance, on GW, Monty said that really, his apple tree pruning should have been done by now, but he still did it anyway. As and when. Just go with it. I don’t think nature is as rigid, unbending and unforgiving as some gardening books would have us believe.

In terms of stuff that I’ve done, I’ve done precious little but clearing (it’s the ‘getting rid of’ part that is proving the most time-consuming, laborious task), with a whole lot more clearing to do. Veg plots are taking priority at the mo, and then I’ll tackle the other big clearing jobs. More on this another time.

Seed sowing has started, although I have much, much more to do – thank goodness that my brand spanking new greenhouse staging arrived – because I really don’t know what I would have done this year without it!

Here’s what I’ve sown thus far:

Believe me, there is so much more sowing that I need to do. Hopefully my back will stop being silly soon, because this year if all goes to plan, you’re in for a treat!

*There’s a handy ledge away from the bath water where the laptop sits safely – don’t worry, it’s fine!

Missed Post

Should have posted this at the beginning of the week… Whoops! So here you are…

Hello there. Sorry about that little hiatus. I was having a crap fortnight.

So, as you know, Snoopy left us for the warren in the sky. But not two days later, as my Twitter followers probably noticed, we then had to take Moppy in to the vet too. I felt like I was a completely rubbish owner and I was doing things wrong. But after an initial x-ray, which led onto an ultrasound, which then led onto surgery, it turned out Moppy had got steatitis. It’s basically where fatty tissue becomes necrotic and causes flare ups in the surrounding tissue. The vet said that not much is known about it in cats, and even less is known about it in rabbits. Sometimes they can knock themselves and it happens via a small trauma, but there’s just not a huge amount known about it, so we’re not sure why it happened, or whether it’ll happen again. Luckily we were on to it very quickly, and after an amazingly huge vet bill, we got Moppy home.

Then ensued a few stressful days of encouraging her to eat. She was eating a little at the vet but we all thought it was best if she came home and settled here – rabbits are incredibly emotional animals, and given that she’d been ill and lost her partner in crime… well, she wasn’t feeling great. But we managed to syringe feed her, encourage her with herbs and long grass, administer her various medications and painkillers. After a few days, Moppy started eating more and more of her own accord, and as of two days ago has been off the painkillers and is eating and pooing like a trooper. She’s back to her naughty ways and once she’s had the all clear, we’re looking at adopting a rescue rabbit from the RSPCA, who will hopefully bond with her and become her new ‘husbun’.

Honestly. Rabbits are perhaps one of the most complex animals I’ve had to keep. Unfortunately, that’s probably why they’re also one of the most abused and neglected animals in this country. But all you can do is spread the word and hope people won’t keep buying them and leaving them virtually ignored all day in too-small hutches, once they discover that most rabbits don’t actually enjoy being picked up or cuddled.

Anyhow.

Now that that little episode is over (I hope), and my cough and cold are finally leaving me, I am also pleased to report that despite having to have a week off work due to illness, buckets of rain and rabbity-distractions, I did manage to get more sowing done. WOW. I am a bit flabbergasted, if I’m completely honest. I think because last year was a bit of a disaster, any progress this year has made me feel as though I’ve come on in leaps and bounds.

My polka raspberries are doing great, even though Moppy has a habit of nipping off the fresh buds when my back is turned. I have lost one raspberry cane though – but I think this is because I just didn’t get them in quick enough after I received them in the post. I’ll have to have a think to see how I can get one more in, as it’s the cane that’s smack bang in the middle of the short row.

Rich’s asparagus are sending up tiny new spears. He tenderly checks them almost every other day to see what progress they’re making, and to assess any cat/rabbit/mouse inflicted damage has been done since his last check. It usually involves a 10 second burst of frustrated raging, but alas – that is the nature of growing your own. Rich gets very despondent with his flower and veg growing efforts, but I’ve told him to just be patient and let things take care of themselves. That tactic usually works for me.

In the greenhouse (well, conservatory and greenhouse), my various chillis and peppers are going GREAT – I’m hoping for an abundance of cayenne and jalapeno chillis and big banana, long sweet and californian bell peppers by the summer. I did, however, discover that probably part of the reason that my bluebells and wild garlic seed didn’t come up was that Tom the cat had taken to lying in the warm earthy seed trays. Joy. Luckily, he missed the pepper and chilli trays.

I’ve also sowed runner beans and a couple of varieties of squash, some of which are starting to peep through. That in itself is a vast improvement as last year I left it so late that I just threw them in the ground, covered in an old plastic compost bag to keep the soil warm. No, in fact, I bought one from the garden centre and threw it in the ground. So there! That’s progress for you, right there.

My charlotte potatoes are starting to poke through too. I’m already mentally planning my hot potato salad with freshly chopped chives from outside the greenhouse.

The primo cabbages have been sown indoors – they’re a round, compact variety of cabbage and I found the one that I grew a couple of years ago that survived the slug attack to be extremely crunchy and almost sweet in taste. So if they survive this year (I’m thinking enviromesh and nightly slug removal duties – hopefully the hedgehogs will help clear up too), I’m looking forward to things like fresh, crunchy coleslaw. None of that supermarket rubbish, which made me think I hated coleslaw for years.

I know it says sow indoors around April on the cabbage packet, but I get the feeling that spring is a bit late this year anyway, so it all works out. What’s a couple of weeks in the growing calendar, anyway? It’s not rigid, it doesn’t work like that.

My question to you, just out of interest, is this: did you ever grow up thinking you hated a particular fruit or vegetable, only to grow it yourself or eat it fresh from someone’s vegetable patch, and find that actually… you really liked it?