Does this look familiar to you?
It does to me, and I’ve come to realise it’s killing my productivity. (No, not the tea and the general mess.) The picture depicts a typical sowing session, using 40 cell seed tray inserts – which is, theoretically, a fantastic way to get a decent number of plug plants going from seed, without sacrificing the infant prodigies to the combined mercies of slugs and the collective rear end of the neighbourhood cat population. The trouble is, the yarn I spin to myself throughout the winter months, flipping through the seed catalogues with credit card to hand, bears only a passing resemblance to the realities of daily life and the manner in which our own garden fits around everything else that needs to get done.
Too many plants
I need to be realistic about the time and resources I can commit to growing plants, particularly raising annuals and biennials from seed. Sowing in modules drastically cuts down on pricking out and the issue of week seedlings as a result of competition. With near 100 per cent germination rates, this results in hundreds of mini plugs, almost all of which will get potted on, and which then need to be watered, fed, kept weed and pest free, and perhaps potted on further before making it into the garden. I could thin out ruthlessly at the potting on, rather than the pricking out stage, but that seems to be even more of a waste of time and resources. Admittedly it’s nice having extras to swell stock for clients gardens, or to give to friends, but I really don’t need to grow in these quantities, and I’m kidding myself into thinking that in my circumstances I can do it as well as I’d like to.
Last year, I resolved to cut down on the number of edibles I grew from seed. But enthusiasm got the better of me again, I allowed the number of different ornamentals to creep up, whilst also missing the options available for harvest in the kitchen garden. And I was still sowing far too many of each variety.
I’ve been persuading myself with the very real prospect that, once I’ve cut down on the number of plants I raise, I’ll spend less time dashing about between trays, and more time concentrating on the individual plants. Better plants, (slightly) less frazzled gardener.
January’s not yet done. I think I can just about sneak a resolution in under the wire. So, this year, if there’s one thing I can change to have a positive impact upon my plant raising activities, I’ll be sowing into larger inserts, with fewer cells. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Have you made any resolutions (either for the new year, or ongoing ones) for the garden? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter.