I’ve never been so late in sowing seeds – that is, there have been odd years when I have grown no vegetables at all, but I’ve always got going by the beginning of April when it’s happened and usually much earlier. There was a time when I started some plants off in January in the greenhouse, but I don’t do that now, I really don’t think it’s worthwhile for me. Seedlings are much slower to get going and, though the plants are a little earlier, they get leggy in the propagator. And I’m a fair-weather gardener nowadays. I do it for pleasure and satisfaction, not any obligation and I don’t supply anyone else, unless I offer a friend a few plants. Time was, some 20 years ago, when I ran a plant stall at Ro’s Middle School Fete, which was always held in the morning/early afternoon of Cup Final day in May (this is the soccer type of football, for overseas friends) – the idea was that you hadn’t got any other plans for the day, you could come along, spend your money, helpers could clear up and everyone be home in time for kick off. I never watched the match, but a brisk three hours suited me nicely. The growing of the plants had taken months, though. When Ro left the school and the supply of lovely vegetable plants and bedding plants dried up, it must have been a disappointment for anyone who’d relied on them for the previous four years. And, a few years later, Al opened his greengrocery, so I grew stuff for him instead. Now, I’m not obliged to anyone and I suppose I never was. I just liked to help and I did enjoy the growing of the little plants, though late frosts were always a worry as the greenhouses were full of tender plants. A cold night in May is often followed by strong early morning sunshine, so the risk was young leaves frosted and then scorched.
Anyway, this year the winter weather kicked in late, so I delayed it all. Then we went away for a week and the forecast still wasn’t very good, so I didn’t bother. Anything I’m too late for, I’ll buy as plants. But I decided the moment had come and looked for the seeds….that turned out to be a bit of a do. I’d got some part-packs from last year, so hadn’t bought some things, including herbs, tomatoes, chard and so on, and I had brought all the seed packets into the house to check what I did and didn’t need. But that was last November and then we’d cleared this room because we were going to decorate and then have the new carpet laid. So stuff had been taken away and some of it hadn’t returned. Though actually, I didn’t think the seeds were in here at all, I thought they were in the porch. And I looked and Tim looked and we didn’t see them, so I started to check other possible places. We both did. Several times. And then I gave up. I then looked for the bag of new seeds.
Yes, that wasn’t simple either, but memory did kick in quite soon there; I’d taken some packs through to Rose and so I went to check, and they were all still through in her house. So I finally made a start, less than half an hour after I first said I was going to. And a little later, I had yet another look in the porch, and the original seeds were there after all, just a few inches from where Tim and I had finished our first two searches.
As Horrid Henry puts it so well, it’s not easy being me.
I came in to a conversation among friends yesterday evening in time to hear one of them say that her daughter very much wanted to visit Beirut. I wondered why, just for a few moments, until she corrected herself. Bayreuth. As a Wagner buff, she’s seen the Ring Cycle three times, but only in Britain and she really would love to go to the Bayreuth Festival. I know how it is. Sometimes, you only know you’re saying it wrong when you actually hear yourself. Mouth overtaking brain, my sister says.