The old adage of sow dry, plant wet is generally a good rule to follow. But what those old wives didn’t tell us in their tales is what to do when it’s saturated. And the ground now is certainly saturated.
I think this is the wettest winter I can ever remember, it will take a good few dry weeks and brisk winds to dry the soil out to a condition where seeds can be sown directly into the ground. So in the meantime it’s sowing indoors or within a heated greenhouse. Certainly in our house every single windowsill is taken up with growing seedlings and cuttings. I hoped that we might be able to move some of the seedlings into the polytunnel and greenhouse on the plot, but now we’re into another cold spell so they’ll have to wait for another week or so.
I did manage during the past week to plant out my sweet peas plus the onion sets and shallots which had been planted in January in modules and placed in the cold greenhouse. The soil was a bit claggy but I did manage it, although I did wonder at times what on earth (apt pun) I was doing crawling around on my hands and knees in the freezing cold. Oh well, what else would I be doing.
The sweet peas I sow towards the end of October and when germinated I pot on in root trainers and gradually harden them off and over winter them outside on the plot. The recent cold spell checked them a little but hopefully they’ll recover and get growing. I noticed Monty last night was saying there was still time to sow Sweet Peas for flowering this year – as always, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Strange expression that – a quick google says the origin is probably American, say no more.
Talking of recovery, the Aquadulce Claudia have all perked up and are growing away following the snow and cold. Some have succumbed to a few blackened leaves but generally they’re fine. Obviously, they’re not as advanced as in previous years but they’ll make up. Again, the seeds were sown at the end of October under cover before being hardened off and planted out at the end of November. My neighbour on the next plot planted out some much more advanced broad bean plants around the same time, which sped away and were flowering by the end of January. But unfortunately, the cold spell got them and now they’re ruined. I’m not sure what variety they are, but it seems that Aquadulce are the variety which survives the winter.
A big topic at present is the use of plastic, which many people, including my partner Jeni, have been shouting about for years, but following the David Attenborough programme has become newsworthy. The EAGS shop is attempting to do it’s bit and cut down on the use of plastic. One interesting item which the shop is introducing is Rice Husk Pots, made from 100% natural materials, a by-product of rice production with a vegetable varnish to seal everything in. They last up to 5 years or can be broken up and tossed on the compost heap to biodegrade in 9-18 months. They should be available in the shop soon.