It's easy to think over the last few months that the garden has been left to its own devices, that we made hay when the sun shined and when winter breathed down our necks we ran screaming into our hovel screaming about the end of the world over our shoulders. Though it has been a mild and largely wet winter the garden and its weeds have been ticking along. To give you an idea how mild it has been we still have red cabbages in open ground, red cabbages! Up here! In winter! The mind boggles.
However, temperatures dipped in March, snow rolled in and the garden was hit with its first winter cold. The daffodils we plants in January - again, due to the wet weather - are now starting to poke their heads up but inside we are teaching Little D the fund of sowing seeds in a propagator.
To get ahead we use a simple windowsill heated propagator. These off the shelf beauties can actually get plenty of seed germinating in a short period. The dahlia seed above germinated in just under three days and the chillies in around five. It's fun for Little D to be able to pick up the lids each day to see if anything was growing and when something did he had to phone Andrew at work to tell him all about it. That's the beauty of getting kids into growing at an early age, they get passionate about the whole process from earth to plate. Just learn that less is more in a seed tray, there is real temptation to sow all the seeds in a packet into one tray BUT DON'T. Sorry, did we yell then? BUT, SERIOUSLY DON'T. Did you hear that? If you do this you are placing anything that germinates under incredible stress. Don't believe us? Get on the train during rush hour and you will achieve the realisation of how a seed feels when it is crammed into a tray. The chance of infection goes up, the chances of dampening off, mildew and much more goes up. Basically, everything that could happen to you on that cramped train could happen to the seedling, including impromptu singalongs followed by a stampede. Sow a packet over several trays, they won't be spending that much time in their because this is seed compost, it's not nutrient rich. So, we now have dahlia seedlings ready for pricking on (this is when you place them into individual cell trays to create small plug plants) and soon the chillies too. We have tomatoes to sow too and other vegetables that we can get ahead with. This little windowsill propagator we got through bartering really does help us fill a good third of the garden each year.