Today is a monumentally exciting day!

It’s the first round of seed planting for the season.

A good sign it's seed sowing time.

This will be the 4th season I have put a seed into soil and anxiously awaited the results.  I am hoping that this year will be the best year, as now I have something very valuable that I didn’t have when I first started out: “The benefit of hindsight” and all the experience and wisdom that brings.

I think it is fair to say in the early days I was a bit naïve.  One of my biggest problems of the past was over planting.  Just because the lettuce seed packet has 1000 seeds in it doesn’t mean they should all be planted at once by sprinkling liberally over a small space.

This brings me nicely to my next learner error:  spacing.  Needless to say 1000 lettuce plants wedged in tightly into a confined space quickly lead to a mushy slimy mess which was taken full advantage of by marauding slugs and snails.

Another sign its the right time to sow seed.

I also had difficulties in looking at a small seed and thinking “how big could it possibly grow?” and plant things way too close.  Being a visual person I like to see things in action before attempting as this brings, for me, the best understanding.  Looking at words on a page is all good and well but “just how big is that?”  A quick search on You Tube generally answers that one, and being “down under” here in New Zealand, northern hemisphere crops are at the height of their potential as I plant my seeds so I can get the premature benefit of someone else’s hindsight.

Another aspect of the garden to be modified is: how much.  I usually plant extra seeds, just in case germination fails and I don’t have to start again, but then I am left with extra plants that in the past I have just popped in the garden with the rest because I hate waste.  Last year I found 7 zucchini for a family of 4 where the kids hate zucchini and can spot it a mile off is about 6 zucchini too many!

There is enough here for everyone!

This year I am helping out friends, by planting seeds for their gardens, it’s not much more of an effort raising extras, but to be a blessing when times are tight is a good thing.  The dilemma this raises is – do I rely on my extras planted in case of non-germination for these “gifts”, or do I plant more seeds with their own extras?  I would hate to let people down, but I could end up with so many spare plants I could open a nursery!  I so hate waste.

This time I am being more sensible with my timings.  The year I first got a cheap plastic greenhouse I planted EVERTHING 8 weeks before it was due in the ground – even carrots!  I have since learnt – this is a dumb idea.  Some things do better for being started in the ground – peas, beans, carrots, corn to name a few.  Some things don’t need an 8 week head start – and just end up weak and leggy and no good for prolific cropping.

Some things do benefit from an early start.  Tomatoes can grow tall so they can be planted deep, peppers have to be the slowest thing in the garden and need all the help they can get.  Other crops like melons that need a long hot season also get a bit of a hand up so they can start pumping out the goods and soon as possible before it goes all cold on them leaving us empty handed at the end of the season.

Come again soon – see how the seeds are doing – this is just the start of great things to come!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

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