The old saying goes: ‘The early bird catches the worm’. In gardening this does not always work out. I tend to be that early bird, but the worm very often evades me. A start early in the season can be advantageous, or it can be disastrous. It is so tempting to try to start the growing year as early as possible. Too many times I have grown impatient in January and sowed seeds that struggle to germinate on chilly window sills in low light.
This year, as usual, I sowed my tomato seeds in mid January. They did germinate, but by the end of April I’m left with enormous plants too tall for the window sills and crowding up the floor of the kitchen. They are too delicate to put outdoors in wind, rain and cold, so we trip over them for another couple of weeks. It is now the third week in May so I have put them outside, although we may yet have nights of frost. I will need to cover them with fleece if frost is forecast. The wind is doing damage to them, knocking them over and breaking some branches, so I’m trying to prop them up against robust shrubs to afford them a bit of natural shelter. Seeds sowed a month ago are doing well and making robust plants, they will fare better when they’re placed outside, but they will be later to produce fruit.
Peas have done much better. Seed sowed indoors in January has resulted in sturdy and hardy plants which I transplanted to the vegetable raised bed in March. They are showing blossom and I am hoping for an early crop.
Last year I made the mistake of sowing courgette seed very early, They came on well and bloomed indoors. However, the drought over the summer resulted in a very disappointing crop. This year I have just sowed them indoors and I’ll hope for the best.
In past years I have sowed the seed of runner beans too early and ended up with Jack-and-the-beanstalk plants in the bedroom. Last year I sowed them outdoors in early June and this worked well, so I will follow this plan this year.