Yesterday I was optimistic about Spring actually being here but in fact I had suffered a rush of optimism about three weeks ago when I got that urge to get growing.
Compost was purchased (Fertile Fibre peat free) and the shiny metal box containing all my lovingly gathered and purchased seeds was opened with that rush of anticipation which heralds the start of a new growing season. Oh what to plant first and trying to be sensible and moderate the urge to fill scores of seed trays I rationed my early season planting to sweet pea, broccoli, rocket, greyhound cabbage and salad bowl lettuce. Remembering my brother’s mantra ‘steady as you go’ I curbed my enthusiasm and stopped at that point (well for a day or two!)
The first two weeks were fine I had time to keep an eye on things ( and plant more seeds – stock, globe artichoke, butter-nut squash and basil to name a few) but then my early optimism came a cropper – working away from home, visiting parents, village events and in the flash of an eye seeds had germinated and stretched their leggy stalks up to the sky making them look quite unhealthy. Oh why had I planted so early and why had I not taken a few minutes to check the seed trays? How many times have we all said this to ourselves. Never fear one of my very useful birthday presents from my sister came into play a widger – a little stainless steel tool which replaces my rusty old teaspoon for gently lifting seedlings allowing you to transplant them without crushing their delicate stem or leaves.
The straggly cabbages were gently lifted out of the seed tray and potted on into 9cm pots with the seedling planted deeply so that the compost covers the straggly stem and holds the leggy plant firmly in place. After 10 days the plants are looking like sturdy little seedlings and my neglect is not evident. All if safe for now but there are still many hurdles ahead – frost, slugs, pigeons, caterpillars and probably some more human neglect before we enjoy the first taste of the cabbage and bacon.