My grandfather always planted his seeds at Easter time. And I would have done the same this year, were it not for a virulent infunza that bugged me all over the holiday. I’m glad I waited, because these last few days have contributed just that mix of sunny intervals and showers that emerging seeds enjoy.
I find that waiting to plant seeds a little later in the season has many advantages. They emerge fighting fit, rather than spindly and etiolated (elongated due to lack of light).
Anxious to make a good impression for my first visitors of the season, I did a large sowing last week on the 5th and 6th of April. Already, (10th April) quite a few small seeds and the bigger ones are starting to come through. (See below for the seed list)
I plant in the greenhouse, partly in order to protect the seeds from slugs and partly so I know what is what. I’m not great at keeping accurate records within each bed. I don’t often plant in rows it can be difficult to remember where things are.
I do have a small fan heater in the greenhouse, but with night-time outdoor temperatures never dipping below 8°C here in central London, I don’t think I can be using much electricity. The tomatoes, courgette and cucumbers have a little bit of bottom heat from an electric propagator as well.
While the seeds germinate, I’ve been preparing the outside beds, liberally piling in semi-degraded kitchen waste which is brown and gummy and overtopping that with friable compost from the rooftopvegplot compost heap. I’ve forked in a few chicken pellets and worm castings as well. This week I shall anoint the bare soil with anti-slug nematodes.
I’ve also planted violas around leaf crops sown earlier in the season. Slugs prefer viola flowers to lettuces, so do a good job as an anti-slug decoy. I hope that at least some of the viola petals I can use myself in salads. They look marvellous, taste sweet and delicious and are certainly a visual improvement to ugly blue slug pellets.
Last year, due to family crises, I planted even later – and didn’t notice any appreciable drop in productivity.
The early bird might find the first worm, but the early planter may not benefit from any head start at all. My advice is to wait for the weather to tell you when to sow. Now is the season for me.
All seeds planted 5/6th April, source Chiltern Seeds
* those that have germinated by 10th April
Climbing French Bean Cosse Violette
Courgette 'Costa Romanesco' (Cucurbit pepo)*
Gherkin, Cucumber 'National Pickling'
Tomato, 'Ailsa Craig'
Mustard Greens 'Indian Mustard' *
Oregano Heirloom/heritage variety
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)*
Mizuna 'Japanese Greens'*
Pot Marigold, Calendula officinalis