Thursday, 31 March 2011

Killing them with kindness...

This is the first spring my allotment and I have had together. Our love has been on a slow burn since September, he’s been very demanding and I’ve got nothing back- except emerging arm muscles and occasional rows with the boyf. I’ve lugged off rocks in the rain, I’ve weeded in the snow and I’ve built in the howling wind and now I am nearing the time to grow.

So far, from my mini green house, things do not look so good. Nearly everything I put in either sprouts and then dies or never appears at all. At first I thought I was moving too fast, planting before the seeds were ready but having just spent a few hours at work reading the entire Alys Fowler back catalogue on The Guardian online, I now know what’s going on- I am loving my plants too hard.

Tucked up on their little shelves in their little handmade recycled newspaper pots, the plants are smothered. Not in an overbearing mother sense, I still believe that a friendly chat and words of encouragement in the evening make them grow into big, strong and productive plants, but in the sense that they’re too warm and wet. In the cold, rainy Surrey spring my little darlings are dying. As I watch them through the plastic, afraid to open the flap, like a baker with a cake in the oven, my seeds are growing too hot and then...well not growing at all. Alys says I need to let them breath, open the door and flap my hands over them once in a while. Alys has warned me about “damp off” the term for when little baba seedlings get too hot and too wet and rot in the soil. I’m feeling like a mother who cries when their child becomes so obese that they can’t move because they’ve been feeding them naught but turkey twizzlers for years, wailing “but I thought turkey was low in faaaat!” Well, I promptly removed my precious goldenberry seedlings inside- cauliflower can wait, these little fellas are the first to appear in two years of trying!

So this weekend I endeavour to change my ways. I will purge the greenhouse (I say greenhouse- I mean covered plastic covered shelving unit which I’ve tied to the hedge to stop it blowing away- a real greenhouse is a like an impossible dream for me- no constructions over 4 foot on the allotment boo!) I will make new pots, using a better class of newspaper, The Daily Mail might be making my plants grow a bit slow and closed minded, instead I will use The Guardian to make my little pots and hope that this inspires my seedlings. No longer feeling the need to maintain tropical conditions, I will open the door and flap my hands to let the air circulate and make my little seedlings happy. The next step is a coldframe, time to let my babies go into the big wide world...

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