I haven’t got much done today. I’ve felt overwhelmed, with no real reason – that is, sometimes this amount of pressure invigorates me, but today it’s just sat there and glowered. So, since thinking and writing about it will only focus my attention and that’s the last thing to help, what else can I write about? I don’t feel like delving back into childhood today and I’ve a feeling those reminiscences are becoming too bitty.
Vegetables, that’s it. Growing them, that is. As I said yesterday, I’m trying to get the greenhouse ready before I leave for Wink’s, so that I can crack on as soon as I get home again – there’s no point in sowing seeds before then, too early outside and it’s not fair on Russell to give him the bother of checking on them. Besides, I’ll miss the fun. I simply love the whole business of sowing seeds, putting them in the propagator. checking daily – lifting the lid and feeling the humid air seep out, the little thrill when the first shoot appears, seeing them grow. pricking them out individually … I love everything about it. What I’ve lost the love for, over the past few years, is the rest of the work., during the summer, but there it goes. I keep on trying, hoping it’ll be rekindled somehow.
I really do need to grow just a little at a time, though that’s not in my nature. Sowing a few seeds each week for succession is so very sensible. Yes, I’m sensible at heart, I know it – but I’m not methodical, not in that way.
One year, when I was growing for Alex, I grew lots of early lettuce in the greenhouse. I planted more outside and it worked brilliantly. The indoor ones grew quickest of course, and I gave a bit of protection with cloches to some of those outdoors, and they were ready to pick at different times. The only matter of timing is to be sure the greenhouse is free by the time tomatoes and peppers and so on are ready to be put in there. I also find that early carrots work very well indoors, because there’s no risk of root fly. One can deal with that for oneself, but it doesn’t go down too well when you’re selling the carrots.
The advantage of growing for Alex was that I could have several varieties of one vegetable. I stuck with things that were easy to grow, didn’t tend to get pests, were popular or else unusual. Swiss chard, for example, is brilliant – have the rainbow chard and people love the variety of colours. I used to grow at least three sorts of french beans, pencil-podded, flat-podded and purple. I always grow climbing beans because I hate grubbing about picking the dwarf ones. But just for us, I don’t think it will be worth it.
Now, I can grow a wider variety of vegetables, even if I am likely to restrict myself on varieties. Just enough for the two of us isn’t that easy – I did manage it last year, with the few items I did grow – peas, spinach, runner beans, courgettes, lettuces were what I put in the two beds, each not quite four foot square, that were all I had (apart from chillies and tomatoes in the greenhouse and squash in very big pots) – but that was too restricted.
I’m going to have to give it some thought. It’s like cooking for two when you’re used to a family – you don’t always get the quantity right at first. And I have to bear in mind that I hate weeding more than almost anything else. I like to work hard and feel that’s it for a bit, I can forget about it and look after something else – but weeds take advantage of that sort of attitude and overwhelm the little plants while you’re not looking.