In my garden spring has sprung!
Well, for today anyway, and as I wander around and gaze at the borders I'm delighted to see clumps of Snowdrops nodding in the breeze, Crocus in various colours and sizes, low growing Iris with rather large, and lovely, flowers, Hellebores raising their heads to display white, pink or red flowers, big fat buds where the Paeonies will later display their big blousy flowers and... weeds everywhere. I itch to start removing them, but really, the ground is still much too wet and sticky and I would be doing the soil a lot of harm walking over it in this state.
What I can and must do is plant some vegetable seeds under cover and get the season underway.
All my seed trays and pots have been washed and drained. The soil is in the tunnel and so reasonably warm and I'm raring to go. As usual I've been tempted by all sorts of different seeds and am having difficulty fitting them all in the fridge. I promise myself not to get carried away every year but here we are again. I use small pots for most of my seeds at this time of year and, having nearly filled them with (bought) compost I've smoothed them, watered them and started the seed sowing process.
First, the tomatoes, I like to try a few different ones each year and so only sow a few seeds of each per pot. There are an awful lot of varieties out there but I have always liked Alicante and Moneymaker for reliability, but for flavour and appearance my favourite has got to be Tigerella. This stripey tomato looks and tastes great. I also like to pot up in hanging baskets Gardener's Delight, a delicious cherry tomato that all kids, and adults love. I try to spread the seeds a centimetre apart and then cover them (just) with sieved compost. They, and the peppers, cucumbers and aubergine seeds, which I treat in the same way, will eventually be grown on in a greenhouse, though some might sneak their way into the front porch.
The much larger seeds of courgettes, marrows and pumpkins will be covered a little deeper and they are destined for the tunnels later on. Meanwhile, they need somewhere reasonably warm and well lit to start the germination process, a plastic cover will go on, and some will end up in the electric propagator that I was given some time ago.
Meanwhile some of the 'small seed' needs to be started. The ground outside is still so wet and cold, that any seed going in there would probably simply rot, and so once again I've used small pots - I used to use trays but have found they take up too much space.
When it comes to the brassica family I love to try a few different varieties and so I've managed to fill eight small pots with different cabbage seeds, three with cauliflowers, and five more with various broccolies. I haven't used many seeds, they will eventually be planted out in rows that hold 12 to 15 plants each. I like Primo cabbage and also Greyhound as reliable early ones, but have tried a few new ones recommended for sowing at this time. With cauliflower, All Year Round works well for us.
Last but not least, in trays this time, some lettuce for transplanting, and some in deeper trays, for 'cut and come again' purposes - if we can eat them before the earwigs and slugs do I'll be delighted.
In a large pot with finely sieved soil I've planted some carrot seeds, very thinly, as I've never liked the job of thinning out. I've always used Nantes very succesfully for this.
Lastly for this week, I've planted some early seed potatoes in the tunnel, they should provide us with brand new spuds just as our old ones run out towards the end of the year.