Saturday, 2 April 2011
April has dawned. If March was busy with sowing, it was a walk in the park compared to the next few weeks.
I started well; my academic work was done on Thursday as planned, and I spent yesterday having lunch, a couple of drinks, then shopping and attending a concert with a friend. It was a great day, completely different to my normal life, which recently has settled down into comfortable cloistered quiet.
Back home now, I have an almost insurmountable number of garden-related tasks to do. All the March sowings (with a couple of notable exceptions, as I mentioned recently), are proper baby plants now, and most will need repotting in the next week or two. Meanwhile, I keep buying more seeds! Some were planned purchases - I didn't see any point in ordering corn, pumpkins, or cucumber seeds until April/May, because I couldn't sow them any earlier. But plenty of others are impulse buys - not outrageously so, in the sense that they don't fit in the with general scheme - but I keep remembering or discovering plants I love, and want to grow. This week, it's basils. I have already sown normal Genovese basil, and some mammoth basil seed my sister gave me (both are now sprouting), but I love every kind, and yesterday three more packs of seeds arrived - 'Dark Opal', cinnamon, and Thai. I don't have a problem getting basil to germinate, and indoors, on the windowsill, they thrive - a tray of plants will give a handful of leaves almost every day for three months or more. But outdoors, it's another matter - they die almost instantly. A huge mollusc population, and less-than-Mediterranean summer temperatures probably don't help. This year, I'll try again - but I expect to have to keep them in the greenhouses at least.
It wouldn't be right to end without mentioning the tomatoes. Every variety has now germinated - the last ones came up overnight - and the population mentioned above has easily met my expectations - a few laggards will probably take it to around 240 in the end. That's not counting the cuttings I'm hoping to take - having read a few months ago that the side shoots will root and produce healthy plants, I knew I'd have to try it. That could foreseeably double my numbers - but I'll only do it on a large scale if I have mass deaths/I sell out all my spare seedlings. Incidentally, I have a huge waiting list of friends and family for free plants now - including the friend I spent yesterday with, who has a greenhouse that's stood empty for years. I had idly considered installing plants there last year - before I built my own - but the distance was prohibitive (it's about 2 miles away - good exercise, but more walking than I'd want to commit to for three or four months), especially for daily watering. But it occurred to me that a self-watering system could be rigged up, and in fact my friend was very positive about it, so she might tend it too - I'd give her half the produce, say. What with all the other greenhouse crops I have - melons, cucumbers, okra, chillies, and more - I need all the space I can get!