Friday, February 1, 2008

February 1st lets make a start!

It’s February the 1st and we are now, for the gardeners amongst us, on the ‘right’ side of Winter.
Although there is very little that can be done outside in the garden at this time of year, the ground is still frozen and the weather unpredictable, very important work can be carried out indoors from the warmth of your arm chair with a nice cup of tea.

Now is a good time to put together a plan for the year ahead, what you are going to plant, when and importantly where.
It’s best to start the year even if only with a rough plan. These plans will be of real benefit later on when we enter the hectic month of April. Look seriously at what you want out of your garden. Consider also your commitment level and time restraints you may have as this will dictate how much of a garden workload you want and how much you will plant. Think carefully of the quantities you will need , there’s no point in growing rows and rows of something that you simply won’t eat and don’t think you will be able to give it away…your neighbours will be doing exactly the same thing!

Don’t stress yourself about it though. This is an exciting time that inspires me to get out my gardening books and look on the internet for ideas. Having been here for a few years now I realise that one of my greatest resources are on my doorstep, my neighbours. It’s good to talk with them about what they are planning and when. It is so easy to lose contact with your friends and neighbours during the Winter months so sharing your ideas is very important and when done over a glass of wine or rakia, even more so.

For the keen gardeners amongst you it is time, believe it or not, to be thinking about your tomatoes and hot chilly peppers. (and at the end of the month regular peppers, aubergines and spring cabbages).
Indoor planting of all of these can be done easily. I use my old window boxes but you could use any tall plant pot or container, recycling your old yogurt pots is a good idea.
Fill your container leaving around 1 ½ inches at the top, water this lightly and then place your seeds at about 1inch distance taking care not to push the seeds or force them into the compost. Then top up with about another inch of compost. Cover the container with plastic, a thin carrier bag is ideal, and tie string around to keep it in place. This method is great it keeps the moisture in and helps the seed germinate quicker just like in the greenhouse.
Place somewhere light and warm and once the seedlings have started to come through you can remove the plastic and water lightly when required. These seedlings should be ready to plant out at the end of March, weather permitting of course.
I suggest trying a variety of seed types as this will give you a better chance of success. Some varieties do better than others and who knows what this Summer will bring weather wise.
This activity obviously means doing a little work now, moving off the sofa and putting your cuppa down, but it’s a great way to gently ease yourself into the year ahead.

In less than a week the seedlings will start to come through.....