A sage planted with tomatoes and carrots

A sage planted with tomatoes and carrots.

28-04-2020Caroline Fuller

“You just can’t help yourself can you” says o/h as he sees me standing at the ‘potting table’ (sounds posh doesn’t it) in my pj’s. Caught in the act again, I am digging through some of the seed pots to see if I can see any signs of life. They should have come up by now but they haven’t and surely other people ‘check’ don’t they? I know how to plant seeds, wet the soil, sprinkle the seed, cover lightly with soil, keep them damp and leave them alone until they sprout, except I don’t if I think something should have happened by now but it hasn’t. I also usually grow too many of one thing at any one time and this year will be no exception I’m sure. I will try not to end up with forty broccoli and forty cauliflower all ready at the same time, though I took great pleasure in giving friends a vegetable basket now and again.

One of the 2 varieties of cauliflower planted last yearOne of the 2 varieties of cauliflower planted last year.

I look at all the seed pots with some sprouting and some not and having forgotten to label or the labels have blown away, I wonder to myself what is actually in them, has the seed failed or is it taking longer than I think it should to germinate? Peppers I know can take anything up to 40 days. I like to think they wait until the conditions are just perfect for them to show themselves; but just sometimes, I have to check. This morning’s check revealed that I have been watering bare soil for a few days with only half the pots having bean seeds in them…I knew they should all have popped up by now. The soil has warmed up and we have upped the snail checks so I will go back to planting beans directly in the ground and then be surprised when they pop up in the random places I had forgotten I put them.

Strawberry in fruit after being movedStrawberry in fruit after being moved.

Citing woman’s prerogative I change my mind quite often when I have planted something. Today I walk around the garden pleased that recent transplants have been successful. The courgettes seem happy in their new home and the strawberries are full of fruit so they haven’t objected either. The nasturtiums are in flower and have perked up after I trimmed the wilted leaves off.

Nasturtium doesn't mind being moved carefullyNasturtium doesn't mind being moved carefully.

The sweetcorn and beans are growing happily; they like to be together. The corn really appreciates the nitrogen that the beans provide and the beans use the corn as a climbing frame.

Beans and corn like to be together (here bush beans not climbing)Beans and corn like to be together (here bush beans not climbing).

I smile as I see that the ground cover squash plant that will crawl between the corn and the beans keeping the ground moist, has sprouted. As I look a bit more carefully, I realise that the snails have devoured the tips of the beans and they won’t be doing any climbing any time soon, I will have to be even more vigilant when I plant more. I am not blessed with natural artistic imagination but I do have an idea of how I want something to look and approximate sizes, shapes and colours of the plants and their flowers. It’s not just about growing something to eat, I want it to look good, to help its growing companions and most of all I want to encourage the bees to visit and bumble about pollinating in the different planting groups that I have. It is a real life painting that you can eat.

A squash vine will sprawl through the cornA squash vine will sprawl through the corn.

Eyeing the next plant I want to move that will fit in a space nicely in time and provide a splash of colour, I wait patiently until evening time. Once moved the plant and its area can rest overnight while it is cooler and its roots can seek out the water I give it to help it settle. I check in the morning and am always pleased when the plant looks healthy.

A courgette starting to produce.A courgette starting to produce.

I decide not to move any more of the corn, which is not in its original position but scattered too close together by one of the dogs who dug a hole in the bed after seeding. I check one more time for snails and go to look and see if the ants have carried away the new carrot seed that I sprinkled. Yes, I see only one or two carrots have sprouted and without having to check, know that the ants have been at it again. Tomorrow will be soon enough to reseed.

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