Posts Tagged ‘seed trays’

Sowing the seeds of compromise

seed trays

First seeds of the year

A lot of the time gardening for me is a battle between, what I should do and what I am actually going to do. This series of compromises begins straight away with seed sowing.

Ideally I know that you should use clean trays, specialised seed compost, vermiculite, and a propagator, and this year, I did at least clean my trays, the rest is frankly not going to happen and here’s why.

Cost – Every time the splendid Carol Klein sprinkles vermiculite over her seed trays all I can hear is the sound of coins raining into garden centre’s tills. It’s nearly £5 for 10l, and Carol’s so heavy handed with the stuff I suspect she must have her own mine round the back of Glebe Cottage. I mean we all love a bit of drainage, but steady love, I’m not made of money, I might as well cover my chilli seeds with a light layer of cash.

To be honest my tight-fistedness extends to special seed compost too. I’ve always used my usual multi-purpose and it’s been adequate. Probably I don’t get as good germination rates, but I don’t need to. I get more plants than I can use with my inferior growing medium and again it simply doesn’t make economic sense to treat seeds (very cheap and high degeneration) as a more precious commodity than the far more expensive specialised composts (pricy and bulky to store lots of different kinds). I know that the best start will lead to stronger plants, but I need to keep the costs within reasonable limits for what is a hobby, not a job.

Space- Heated propagators are never going to happen in my house either. Apart from the expense and the inevitability that I will break them, there’s the fact that I wouldn’t have enough for all the seeds that I grow, leading to a heart-breaking Sophie’s choice every sowing day. Plus we don’t have enough plugs to spare.

‘Sorry kids it’s either TV or dialysis, you can’t have both, my sweet peas need a consistent 17 degrees.’

Time- I have to confess that in previous years I haven’t even got round to cleaning my seed trays properly. I’ve just brushed out the old dried compost. I know this is terrible and leads to all sorts of diseases caused by poor hygiene which not even a back-street slum chemist will be able to help you with. In my defence I’ve had very young children for the past decade, and what sowing I have been able to do has been a hurried operation which I never quite finish or clear up after before I am called away to tend a crying child or adjudicate on a siblings dispute or feed the little sods. I still find weeing on my own a novelty, when would I have found the time to carefully wash out my seed trays? Since 2003 the only things that have got washed in this house are things that are growing a culture, emitting an especially strong odour or are likely to be seen by my mother – basically plates, pants and wine glasses.

Now the kids are old enough to play on their own (their favourite game being ‘stare at a screen’) I finally have the chance to exercise a bit of garden hygiene, but I know the rest of the year will see more compromises. Gardening experts are great for telling us what we should be doing but without their seemingly endless budgets, time and resources I’m pretty sure they know we’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got.