I challenge anyone to find something humbler, and yet containing more untold majesty, promise and beauty, than the unassuming seed packet. A rudimentary paper packaging, containing the tiniest of morsels, these kernels of truth are bursting to tell their story in full, technicolour glory.
The fact that snowdrops, iris and crocus are now punctuating the cold, lumpy winter soil in earnest, gives me my annual signal that it’s time to start thinking about planting seeds. And it’s a task I dive into with real relish and zeal.
Over the years, I’ve had very mixed success with planting from seed. I’ve experimented with plants where I’ve had no success at all; I’ve had success with certain seeds one year, and then abject failure the next. I guess that much of this is what gives gardening such an attuned sense of intrigue.
In the depths of winter, I placate the seasonal gardening blues, by purchasing odd packets of seeds here and there, online, in garden centres, in supermarkets: wherever I see them. And today was a chance to collate them all together and rediscover what I had stockpiled, including some that I had forgotten about!
On the vegetable gardening front, I have runner beans, corn, pumpkins, peas, courgettes, cauliflower, sprouts and a bonus hot pepper! If you’re keen to get started in vegetable gardening, then runner beans are your best option. I’ve never failed with runner beans, even forgetting a few potted plants last summer, that grew on their own and produced vegetables before I actually noticed them!
I’ve tried peas once before – successfully – although if I recall correctly, they require a much higher level of attention than runner beans. You can be an amateur gardener quite competently, but my goodness; you can’t be an inattentive one.
Courgettes are a trickier mistress to master. When they’ve worked for me, I’ve harvested more than my wife and I knew what to do with. Other years, I’ve suffered with leaf mould, pigeons eating the young plants, or decay and rot that killed off promising looking plants.
Corn, cauliflower, sprouts, hot pepper, and pumpkins are all new to me. My daughter picked the latter, and was surprisingly quite adamant about growing it when we were in the shop, despite my best efforts to dissuade her (the basket was so full with others). So the pumpkin stays, and becomes a pet project.
Lemon balm straddles vegetables and flowers. I’ve never established a herb garden in earnest, but the few herb plants I have had, have usually struggled with the climes of the Peak District the moment it’s not a radiant summer day. This year, I hope that a bit more of a concerted effort will reap dividends, but I’m not hopeful!
On the botanical front, we have an odd assortment of bits and bobs. As I said earlier, this motley crew of seeds is an amalgamation of purchases made in the depths of winter and makes no coherent sense at all. But therein lays the joy of gardening for pleasure.
Teasel, purple sunflower (Berkheya Purpurea), poppies, Nemophilia Pennie Black and Nigella ‘Moody Blues’ make up an erratic collective of seeds, that shall nevertheless be given the utmost care and attention. Lastly, clematis and passion flower packets complete the list, with an eye on a climber project at both the front and the back of the house.
So there we have it: a collection of seeds that will provide me with more than enough work to do over the coming weeks, and an assortment that I hope will provide some stunning photographs, company and food, in the months to come.
Are you growing plants from seed this season? Do you have any success stories or fables of failure? I’d love to hear them! Follow me on Twitter – @aseasonedsoul – for more gardening chat!