Today, as forecasted, is chilly and wet, ideal for staying in the polytunnel for a binge on sowing vegetables. I start by sorting out the seeds that need planting, these are a combination of my existing seed stock and the new ones that I ordered this year. I have made a big investment in new seeds this year – many new varieties of veg and lots of flowers – I knew it would be a massive job sowing them all and I am determined to use all of my new acquisitions, and not forget any. It would be easy to get confused as I ordered about 150 new packs of seeds and I will probably use at least 50 packs of my existing seeds!
I then decide the polytunnel needs a ‘tidy-up’ so that I can move some young plants off the bench to make room for new seed trays.
Soon I am ready to begin. As well as seeds to plant, I have some little plug plants and perennials that have arrived from Parkers to ‘pot-up’. I start by transplanting 66 ‘Pansy Plugs’ to a larger tray. I pot up 6 new auriculas into old terracotta pots and ‘pot-up’ 8 Dwarf Lupin Minarette mixed. I then plant 7 ‘Salvia Bulleyana Blue Lips’ which arrive in bags as chunks of root. I then start planting seeds, firstly the melons, including 3 ‘Petit Gris de Rennes’, 3 watermelons ‘Fascino’, 4 ‘Rugosa di Con Senza Giallo’ and 5 'Esmerelda'. I think my optimism/perseverance with melons deserves some admiration as I plant them every year and last year was probably my best crop – 3 medium sized melons – lovingly supported in slings made of old fish net tights! Not much melon for all that effort! I then planted probably far too many cucumbers. I didn’t want to leave out any varieties. These included Cumlaude (4), Sonja (2), Mini Munch (3,) Paska (3), La Diva (3), Emilie (4), Marketmore (4) and Chinese Slangen (4). I brought the melons and cucumbers into the conservatory/extension as I’ve run out of propagator space. I then planted a tray of 40 Parsnip – Tender and True. A tray of 40 Swede – Tweed. An 84 cell tray of different types of Basil, Greek (21), Lettuce Leaved (21) Cinnamon (2) and Lemon (21). A tray of 20 Saltwort ( Salsola Komarovii) and 20 Okra (Clemens Spineless) and finally an 84 cell tray of Spring Onions Ishikura (42) and white Lisbon (42).
Today has been expensive because we ordered the netting for the fruit cage and 2 Marques for the Open Day. I observed that (although I never begrudge the cost of creating/restoring our garden) we would have to live for several hundred years, for the savings we make by producing our own veg and fruit, to ever be able to recoup the cost of building elaborate fruit cages, exotic raised bed systems and installing large polytunnels. It is definitely a labour of love!