Although my allotment is currently both snowbound and flooded, in a spirit of optimism, I placed my 2013 seed order this week. Growing from seed is meant to be one of the cheapest ways of growing plants in quantity but as I pressed ‘place order’ on the screen it didn’t quite feel that way.
Somehow I had managed to rack up a total of nearly £30 despite having this to reproach me for my spendthrift ways:
By rights, my box (custom made for me by my father) of half-empty seedpackets and random envelopes of seeds that I have saved over the seasons should have enough veg and flower seeds to tide me over at least this summer (and probably many more to come). But I just can’t resist the siren call of those seed catalogues and this year in particular I am all fired up to grow lots more flowers for cutting, having recently attended the inspirational (and historic) first ever meeting of the British cut flower growing organisation, Flowers from the Farm (http://flowersfromthefarm.co.uk).
Settling down with my trusty Tuckers Seeds (www.tuckers-seeds.com) and Chiltern Seeds (www.chilternseeds.co.uk)catalogues I had a high old time drawing up ever more ambitious lists of heirloom veg and gorgeous varieties of floriferous plants. The mind’s eye is a powerful organ indeed as my imagination conveniently overlooked the current reality of my soggy overgrown plot and last year’s disastrous growing season to conjure a scene of colourful abundance (in neatly tended rows of course).
Luckily for my bank balance my head eventually battered the heart into submission and on checking more carefully through The Collection, I found that it actually contained quite a good stash of some really rather nice flower seeds (including an eye catching lime green zinnia, a lovely dark blue larkspur and the flower arrangers favourite, ammi major), and also covered most of the plenty of vegetable bases. My collection of homegrown seed isn’t too shabby either, with its homely mixture of calendulas (including some showy doubles), rose campion (a particular favourite), aquilegias, cornflowers, and poppies of many demoninations (Welsh, Californian and opium).
It was time to get stategic and after some stern budgetry blandishments to self I managed to whittle down my final order to the following. On the flower front, two plants that I’ve never grown before – Clarkia and Gaura, plus a pot-luck mix of old-fashioned sweet peas. On the vegetable front I couldn’t resist adding to my already ludicrously wide-ranging tomato seed portfolio with Red brandywine (forget Bounty, Red Brandywine is truly the taste of paradise), Sungold (expensive F1 but imho the best salad tomato: I grow them every year whether I’m on an austerity drive or not) and, another foray into the unknown, a ‘tumbling’ tomato (you really never can have too many tomatoes, and I’m looking forward to my wallmounted planters groaning with tasty cocktail toms – just like the pictures, naturellement). I also indulged in a fancy French pumpkin (Rouge Vif d’Etamps) and stocked up on runner beans as the saved seed that I have been using for years has finally run its course (I didn’t harvest a single bean last year to eat let alone save any offspring). In a final burst of indulgence I ordered a new variety of lettuce (Prunai RZ) in pill format. I had to admit this feels a bit like cheating- I’ve not used pelletted seeds before-but this year I would actually like to be able to harvest some salad leaves so I thought it was worth a punt.
So now I just have to wait for the weather to improve, mend that broken pane of glass in the greenhouse, wash my pots, and get set for summer. I can’t wait.