New Year’s Resolutions
This year, I will:
Sow all seeds in optimum conditions
Sow only healthy and lively seed
Keep seeds and growing plants in perfect conditions, generally warm and moist
Allow optimum spacing for top yield
Keep the soil rich and fertile, and
Stop all weeds growing
Really, vegetable growing is that simple – in theory! Some of these resolutions are simple, such as the last two. Yet long winters, short growing seasons and variable climate make this less simple. One of the main disciplines is to consider your vegetable rather than yourself as you sow your seeds.
A year ago autumn was ultra mild and ideal for slugs. Winter then started in February when the weather became cool and cloudy with a constant grinding wind until the end of June. After this it was suddenly hot and sunny and struggling crops bloomed overnight.
So will 2016 be the same? One thing is for sure: no-one knows. So we must plant as we normally do, and hope!
Last year we had to sow our “French” and runner beans three times and carrots twice. This was mainly because the weather was so poor that slugs and rodents were plentiful: the plants didn’t stand a chance. For our beans the first sowing was decimated by residual Dow Agro-Science’s pyralid herbicide in Levington’s compost. The £40 compensation they paid was not a good answer to this ongoing chemical nasty.
Seeds seem to be getting more and more expensive every year, sometimes 20-30p each seed for f1 hybrids. A first economy is to save your own seed, the Real Seed Catalogue in Wales give great advice on this. Storing packets for 2 or 3 years works for most seeds if they are kept dry and at constant temperature such as in a cupboard in your house.
MoreVeg in Cullompton, is part of a seed saving co-operative selling seed in small quantities for only 50p, such as 150 carrots or 12 tomatoes. Their seeds seem as reliable and true to type as most!
This reliability of seed is always an issue, and we all have bad experiences we remember for a long time. Last year a friend gave me a cucumber grown from Lidl seed which produced complete joke fruits, and it was July before we found out and fed the plant to the pigs. Generally cheap seeds are fine, but to be certain of some crops we buy from Suttons, the one company that has always come true to type for us. And what variety of crisps do airline pilots like? Plain.