Sunday, 26 February 2012

Feeling like a novice again!

I first grew vegetables on a fairly small scale in the back garden of my first house, way back in 1996. Shortly after that I took on my first allotment and the following year I took on a second one. Since then I have grown probably tons of fruit and vegetables and written several books on the subject. However, never in that time have I had the use of a greenhouse.

At the end of last summer Steve bought us our first greenhouse - a beautiful wooden octagonal thing. We only have a small garden so we figured if we were going to be looking out of our kitchen window at the greenhouse, it ought to be attractive. Now spring is fast approaching and it is time to start sowing... and using the greenhouse for the first time.

I went out into the garden with enthusiasm (and two children) this afternoon, armed with a bag of seeds and some potting compost and ready to get growing. My eldest helped me sow our usual handful of peanuts (for the fun of it!), and my youngest sowed some leek seeds. But then I stopped and found myself staring into the bag of seeds wondering exactly what should I be sowing at the tail end of February now I have access to a splendid greenhouse.

I really didn't know what to sow. Could I sow anything or should I wait until the nights are warmer? Should I still germinate things inside on my windowsills and move them out to the greenhouse as seedlings? Was it worth starting off broad beans or beetroot in pots in the greenhouse now my internal space wasn't restricted to a windowsill and tiny cold frame. 16 years of successful kitchen gardening in the bag and suddenly I find myself feeling like a novice again.

In the end, I sowed peanuts, peppers and tomatoes and put them inside on my windowsill. And I sowed broad beans, leeks and beetroot and put them inside the greenhouse. Then I retreated to the safety of a warm bath to mull things over, ready for more sowing next weekend. I guess I shall make a few mistakes this year as I learn how to make the best of this useful new facility but hopefully I will soon get the hang of it. Every year when I sow seeds there is a nagging doubt in the back of my mind that they will never germinate yet every year I'm rewarded with a wonderful bounty. I suspect this year will be the same. Still, if you're an old greenhouse buff and would like to offer my words of wisdom I will be willing to learn!

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