Real Men Sow

What’s in the Greenhouse? The Small and Mighty Year.


Talking of greenhouses, spring is a time when they really come into their own, especially when temperatures are still struggling. They’re normally full to the brim with lovely, healthy seedlings, waiting to be planted out onto the plot.

Except this year, mine’s isn’t.

Easing My Way Back In
I’m looking at this year as an easing back in process, both in terms of growing and blogging. After a year out, I’ve got to admit that family commitments and the excitement of exploring new surroundings, coupled with a truly excellent weekly veg box left me wondering whether the motivation to carry on growing veg burned any more.

So I’ve decided to take it easy. I’ve got two beds ready, and I’m going to concentrate on just growing the good stuff; the stuff I love to eat and forget all the other seeds that I always end up sowing through a sort of GYO obligation.

Crops like carrots. I always sow carrots, yet we don’t really eat many. And parsnips. And cauliflowers. If we want some comfort cauliflower cheese I darn well think I’ll take a trip to the shop this winter, rather than go through the pain of failed caulis again.

I don’t always fail though :)

Small and Mighty
This year is small and mighty, which is why my greenhouse feels rather spacious, instead of the normal seedling based obstacle course. The photo contains beetroot, courgette, squash, kale, tomatoes, sweetcorn, leeks and cucumbers, and out of shot there is a row of mangetout planted out in a bed.

I do find myself looking at the little plants and feeling slightly underwhelmed at the volumes, but I’m also enjoying the reduced pressure that comes with growing less. The boys have both been out helping me sow and water, and with a more manageable amount of work, they’re keen to help and I’ve got more time to enjoy teaching them what to do.

They get restless after half an hour or so and want to move on to something else, but by then, most of what I needed to do is done and their enthusiasm is maintained for next time.

Sowing Restraint!
I’ve also tried to avoid an excess of seedlings this spring, by attempting something I’ve never attempted before: restraint. Previously I’ve popped seeds in with gay abandon, until it dawns on me that I haven’t a hope in hell of finding space for all that I’ve grown.

Lots of seedlings also use more water and more time, so in line with my efficiency, quality-not-quantity theme, I’m carefully restricting the seeds I’ve sown.

I’m still sowing extra seeds in each pot to ensure good germination; before nipping out to leave just a single seedling in place so that there isn’t too much competition for nutrients. That’s a great tip I picked up at the very beginning of my allotment adventure, and still religiously follow.

I’ve been building up to this minimalist growing philosophy for the past few seasons, but I think this is the first that I’ve been disciplined enough to follow it through. I also think that the boys are now keeping me and Ailsa uber busy, so where I’ve been able to muddle through before, I am currently at a point where time is genuinely at a premium.

So, that’s that. A princely sum of 9 types of veg sown, with only leeks and kale going in for winter. It all seems a long way from a full size allotment crammed to each corner with plants, but 2018 is a relaxed and contented year so far.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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