|Tomato seedlings growing away|
After all, I'm spending a lot of time with these little fellas, they are getting a lot of attention, both in terms of how much they get from me, and how their performance reflects on me professionally, so they become 'my girls'.
The tomatoes are important at Pattendens (my main place of work). The clients eat a lot of them. 4 varieties this year, 3 cordon and 1 bush, and they have already been pricked out and potted on, this is an important step - they sit on propagators, so I am always keen to get them potted up as soon as the seed leaves are unfurled. Having their own pot means they are able to grow away without getting spindly in the race for more light with their mates, also the tendency for the whole pot to dry out is increased if we have a number of seedlings in one pot.
|The organised chaos of the Polytunnel|
I leave the watering can on the propagation mat in the greenhouse. It warms the water nicely so my girls don't get a cold shower. Instead the watering becomes 'a treat' - a warm watering from a fine rose. A cold soaking every now and again might not impede germination and growing on fully, but I can't help but feel it doesn't help. I try to leave as much space between plants, to enable airflow and eradicate the build up of disease, I am giving them the room to grow - just as I stand away from my daughters and allow them to explore and grow without their embarrassing dad too close.
I will find different spaces within these protected environments for plants and seedlings with different needs. I am always attempting to 'read' what is going on and then act on those conclusions.
|Past the danger of mice?|
It's useful, at least for me, to think like this when dealing with plants that we annually grow for crops - they require care and attention, and the inputs are pretty large. If we think like this it becomes less of a to do list and more natural. I have had clients and friends quite fairly say that the price of fruit and vegetables are so low, that it makes no sense to grow your own, and to an extent they are right - but that argument misses the main points. Yeah - its a hassle, if you're not naturally inclined to grow stuff (actually, I believe we are ALL naturally inclined - its just that we've forgotten over the centuries) and modern life gets in the way of nurturing something to fruition - there is often something that feels more urgent or important to do, and we have instant gratification everywhere. BUT if we swing the thinking around a little (or a lot) and looking after a tomato plant, or a row of spuds can be life changing. Bear with me.
The reason growing your own is so special is because it is not always easy. Like life itself, supporting a rubbish football team and going through adversity, you come through stronger, more philosophical and more able to deal with the future. You also learn how to grow good food, which is no small thing - especially in this uncertain world. Its a learning curve you will never master, you will be forever a student because for all the advice and books, and courses, and maybe even this blog, mistakes will be made. Anyone that says different is almost certainly fibbing. Growing food will always throw you a curve ball - because that's intrinsic in the nature. Its why commercial agriculture uses so many 'weapons' to curtail the chances of those curve balls - of course in the long term some might say those practices are storing up one whoopass problem in the not too distant future, but maybe that's for another day. The point is that growing food is an experience that can help the individual grow and heal. Nature can be read, and this is a intense course. The advantages of growing your own are actually infentissimal - its healthier both for you and the planet. Its also tastier. In the end it can be cheaper, though certainly not at first, but the real bonus is a connection with your piece of earth, and the mental gymnastics and common sense practised to perform to coax life and food from it. This allows philosophical thought and an escape from the vast amounts of bull shit that is heaped apon us every day. It connects us with the rythms of nature and unearths the meaning in things. It cuts through the noise, and creates peace. Of course that's until you get potato blight or Carrot root fly. Nobody said bringing up kids was easy!