For the first time since I began growing my own, I’ve kept the promise to myself to have patience when sowing the first seeds.
It’s difficult, isn’t it? We spend so much of the winter longing to get our hands in the soil, planting those tiny seeds of hope. I’ve always found it hard to hold back as we move into the New Year and for years I’ve slipped a few seeds into compost and relieved the pent-up excitement to get growing.
However, it can be a rocky path to take. There are many things that may ruin the sowing party. The light levels are not long enough during the day and the temperature is still low. Ultimately, my seeds fail to germinate or grow weak and leggy and those that survive are comfortably caught up by the later sowings I make.
Don’t hold rigidly to what the backs of the seed packets say. The seed merchants try to cover the wide range of sowing and harvest times for the entire UK. As much as the impatience is eating you up inside, it’s valuable to use your own local knowledge and common sense and choose the most appropriate time to sow for your own particular situation. This in part comes from experience.
Charles Dowding has become a huge influence on me since reading his books over the winter. I’ve moved to a no-dig approach on the allotment and I have also decided to make use of his 35 years of growing experience and utilise his suggested sowing times for individual crops.
Earlier this week, I bought a new plastic greenhouse for the garden from Wilko. I’ve had a smaller one for a number of years and it’s held up very well. It’s been a valuable resource to start off seedlings. The upgraded model is slightly bigger and will comfortably allow me to start more seeds off and the advantage is it’s close to the house, which enables me to tend to their needs very easily throughout the week.
I’m sowing a week or two later than planned. Charles’ sowing season begins on 14th Feb. It’s around this date the UK begins to receive over 10 hours of sunlight – a key component in plant growth. The important factor is sowing crops suitable for early sowing undercover.
On an overcast day, into modules, I sowed Ailsa Craig onion, Boltardy Beetroot, Blauwschokker Peas and Kelvedon Wonder peas. There are a few more vegetables I hope to sow throughout the month of March.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me and it’s taken me away from the blog and the allotment. However, I’m very pleased to be back sowing, growing and talking about it. As well as getting some crops sown and on their way, I have managed to keep up my reading and plans for the allotment garden. There are three topics that have taken my interest and I will write articles on them in the coming weeks and months.
Firstly, no-dig. As I explore this further, there is much more to think about and discuss. Secondly growing for winter harvests and covering the ‘hungry gap’ period between April and June. I would like to have an allotment that provides fresh produce for the entire year. Thirdly, this might sound a little strange considering the size of the plot I have available to grow in, but square foot gardening principles have taken my interest and I’d like to explore these on the plot.
I’m slowly creating an overall strategy in my head of how these topics can come together to form a model for effective, efficient and productive allotment gardening. As this becomes clearer, I will certainly be articulating my thoughts on the blog.
There is more than seeds to enjoy if you are passionate about your garden or allotment. I recently bought this wonderful handmade sign from Darren Lakin.
Over to you. How’s your allotment and kitchen gardens coming along as we move into spring? What have you sown and how are your plans for the year coming together? Let me know in the comments below.