In the dark months of winter, it’s good to look forward, to plan, to imagine the warmth of spring, the burgeoning plant growth, the sounds of the dawn chorus and nature moving at maximum speed. After the last year we need it. Now is the time to get cracking.
A lot of seed packets show March and April as the time to sow, indeed, many say you can sow in February. I find that often seeds sown this early do not germinate well; the exceptions are the big toughies like broad beans, some hardier peas and things like sweet peas which need a long season. Even if you are preening yourself, having been sowing furiously, don’t stop now. You can extend the cropping season with successional sowing; germination is likely to be easier and late sowings often catch up with the earlier ones. When sowing outside, soil temperature is the critical factor, but April is normally fine. From a practical point of view it is best to stay off cold sodden soil anyway or it will get compacted and create problems later.
Don’t plant out tender plants until mid-May so sowing in mid-April is early enough. There is little better, in my opinion, than the optimism and expectation that goes along with seed sowing. In fact, at this time of year the problem is not whether to sow or not but finding the time and space to get it all done.
I often sow tender plants such as courgettes, sweetcorn, runner beans and squashes under cover in mid-April to be ready for planting out in mid to late May when the threat of frost has passed. I even sow my leeks in early April to get good germination and they will still be ready by winter. When you find that you have too many seedlings, and who doesn’t, then why not donate them to the plant/produce swop table that Joanna Van de Poll runs outside her house in Milton; you can help someone who is short of plants and all the money goes to charity.
MUWAGA continues to hold the regular speaker events via Zoom. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m fairly sure that this time it is not that of an approaching train. At the time of writing it is still not clear if the AGM will be held in person or via Zoom in May but either way we will hold one and we will take a view on the Show, scheduled for the end of August, to see if and how we can hold it. Watch this space.