Mad March

Throughout January we prepare for spring sowing. It’s very tempting to sow seeds earlier than the recommended sowing times but the results are usually disappointing. Sowing tomato seeds from mid-February to March was the best time for me in my area, probably being the best number of daylight hours.

My chosen tomato seeds were in the windowsill propagators, although unheated. The sun coming in the windows seem to awaken the seeds right on time. When they were starting to get a bit leggy, I repotted them deeply, into their individual pots. Then I put them into the greenhouse, where I had a larger propagator with a heated mat, so that they would get more light which also seems to be more beneficial. Heat and light are the two most important elements in their growth to begin with and they will start to grow fast now.

In my eagerness to get as many seedlings out into the greenhouse, I potted some plants on too early, before their little root systems had enough time to develop sufficiently. My only consolation is that I had sowed far too many seeds, so losing a few will not be too disastrous, not for me anyway. Lack of space made me think about getting some extra cover for some of the plants. I’d tried the cheap plastic greenhouses and didn’t find them suitable, certainly not in windy weather. I also need something with a little easier access, hinged doors instead of a zipper, so I ordered a mini greenhouse. It is wooden with polycarbonate glazing and fits just ideally in front of the shed. There are three shelves in it, although it is still lightweight and I will keep the bottom shelf for ballast of some sort. I will need to build up a base for it to sit on evenly but having just assembled it, I am very happy with it. It’s positioned at one of the sunniest sites in my garden, so I expect wonderful things with it.

Some years I can be fortunate to get most things to go to plan, but this year is not one of them. November sown sweet peas, thrived all through winter until the severe frost hit us in February. I sowed sweet peas, again in the same modules and put them in a polybag to encourage extra warmth, but I knocked them over. Now two different types of seeds lie somewhere in the compost I scooped up and filled the modules with again. They must have awakened as I see several green shoots. I won’t know which kind they are but I am delighted to see them.

I sow seed in coir, I find it clean and easy to use. It is just a sowing medium and as soon as the little plants start to grow, I pot them on and into compost and include some of the coir they sprouted in, the remainder of the coir, I just add to the compost. Some of my seedlings weren’t quite ready to pot on, but in my rush, I did it anyway and before a decent root ball had formed. It also meant there was a little more coir to recycle, so looking at the compost with the coir, I noticed shoots appearing. One seems to come from a large seed, so it may be a squash.

On a happier note though, I buy a box of organic fruit and vegetables from time to time and I was supplied with more Jerusalem artichokes than I needed, so rather than have them lie forlorn any longer, I popped them into compost and all three have sprouted. I also got more ginger roots than I needed, so those too are in pots. I never like missing an opportunity.

My little greenhouse should come in handy for the seeds meant to be sown under cover and I don’t have enough room in the greenhouse. It can also help to harden off little plants before they have to face the world on their own.


2 thoughts on “Mad March

  1. I’m in the middle of a massive planting week. Any of the larger seeds that I want to start early will be sown this week. I’m also planting a lot of winter-sown milk cartons, although winter is waning, this will probably give them a head start and will give me more room for things that aren’t half-hardy. Sounds like you are having a good time getting ready for summer too.

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  2. I didn’t do any winter sowing this year but I would probably have lost everything anyway with the frosts. I’ve even lost most of my Karmazin beans although there is still time to sow more. It’s still too early for any outdoor sowing where I am. I feel at the moment, it’s one step forward and two back.

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