I’ve got a few friends who are fantastic gardeners. They have years of experience and dedication behind them and they seem to know the right time to plant everything and generally get it all done on time. Their earth is always dug ready for planting, their seeds get sown on time and their seedlings are planted out before they show the slightest signs of stress (plant or human).
Unlike them, my ambitions are always much greater than what I manage to achieve. Last year, my planned tomato terrace of unusual heritage varieties didn’t quite come off. I started them all off from seed, the plants were doing ever so well but just when I needed to pot them on, on to the ‘terrace’, my attention was diverted for a few weeks and that was that. The plants tried their best to flourish in their tiny pots but without divine intervention they didn’t stand a chance.
That is just one example where time and other commitments took precedence over my gardening schedule. Still, it is always better to dwell on the successes rather than the failures isn’t it?. More recently I have been examining my ‘style’ of gardening in order to find other ways around these problems. Of course in the ideal world we would all follow the rules as told by wise old gardeners with knowledge handed down through the generations, or, at the very least, by following those charts with coloured coded ‘sow’, ‘plant out’ and (hopefully) ‘harvest’ bars. There are thousands of gardening books out there spelling out the ideal scenario.
I have mentioned before that I am fast becoming a fan of buying ready grown veg plants when you only need a handful of plants but yesterday I went one better. I belong to my local Freecycle group. For anyone who doesn’t know what Freecycle is, it is a global network, split into local and regional groups, whose main aim is to prevent reusable things from being discarded and sent to landfill. Since I have been a member I have seen caravans, wood burning stoves and even condoms! change hands. It is a great way of recycling stuff, getting rid of things and acquiring other things you didn’t realise you wanted.
Plantstuffs, which don’t really fit into the landfill remit, occasionally come up for grabs, as well as bean poles, peasticks and plant pots. A constant stream of emails all day long can become a little annoying but the advantage of opting for immediate updates is that you can be first to bag a bargain. Yesterday someone was offering a few trays of vegetable plants that were surplus to requirements and I was able to go and collect them straight away.
It seems to me that this is just the most brilliant way to do things, for people to always plant more seeds than they need and then to swap the excess for something else they don’t have time to sow. I know this goes on to some degree already on gardening forums etc and seed exchanging is quite established but I’m sure that with grow your own veg becoming increasingly fashionable combined with the technology we now have at our fingertips, plant swapping makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, I still don’t know where the seed potatoes are going to be planted and the clock is ticking.