Everything’s gone quiet in lookwhatiduguptoday land. The boring and predictable (but true) excuse is that work has been way too busy. The allotment has indeed seen better days, but that’s nearly always true in late winter! Thankfully, as the days are getting noticeably brighter there is also light at the end of the work tunnel. This means that I can commit to the gardening year knowing that I might actually be able to follow through on what gets started.
My first task was planning! Many people design beautiful hand-drawn plans, but I can’t draw and therefore need some computer assistance. I’ve been subscribing to the Sutton’s garden planner for four years now. Doing a proper plan in the winter saves a lot of faffing about when it comes time to put things in the ground. It took some work to build up the plan in the first place, but you can do follow on plans from year to year, which also helps with crop rotation. Additionally, the software indicates how many plants will fit in a given space. Being somewhat risk averse, my tendency is to totally overestimate how may plants I might need. While the software doesn’t stop me from putting in more seeds than needed (what if the seedlings die…), it keeps my worst impulses in check, saving time in the long run.
My first non-virtual task was to get the pots ready. I started out in earnest at the beginning of February with a weekend of washing pots. Normally the pot washing would have been done almost immediately after the plants therein had been planted. In my smug, self-satisfied years this sometimes happened on the same day. Not this year. Before I could do any new seeding, there was a mountain of pots that needed scrubbing. Zebu helped.
Pots sorted, it’s now time to start the seeding. This is a massive task that spreads out over several months. Since I don’t have enough mental storage space to keep track of it all, this task has been outsourced to a planting plan 2019. This is a work in progress that I’ve been building on for two years now. There might still be a few timings that are a bit off, but having everything mapped out in advance helps me to have things ready when they need to be planted out. Of course the weather sets the final schedule. Despite the appearances of major control-freakery, as long as nothing is totally forgotten and I stay within a couple of weeks of the plan, it’s ok if I getting a little behind. Really.
There is such a thing as starting too early, but it can be really hard to fight the urge to get planting. My first seeds – peppers and Inca berries/Cape gooseberries — went in on the 11th of February, two days late already ;). In previous years I put in aubergines at the same time, but found they needed an unplanned repotting, so they went in last weekend instead. All are now living in a heated, lighted box that was custom built by The Enabler and generously funded by Christmas and birthday gifts from my aunt Carol Anne. Ideally I would upgrade the fluorescent lighting to LEDs, but there’s not been time for a trip to any Swedish flat pack furniture stores this year. Still, it’s doing the job for now, getting the gardening year off to a timely start!