One man & his organic plot - March 2019

It’s all about the anticipation of spring for gardeners, whether your plant growing ambitions are just a small window box or if you put your shoulder to it with a large allotment, we are all poised for the new growing season.
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I always worry about time - making sure I have enough of it is always an issue. But I do get incredibly excited this time of year. It only takes sowing a packet of seeds to get me going and I’m sure those of you reading this blog understand that one hundred percent. I feel no matter what level of gardening we partake in it’s all about enjoyment and connecting to nature, there really is no other activity like it.

It’s all about the seeds over the next 8 weeks or so. I’ve started sowing quick crops and hardy annuals, all of which have shown their cotyledons already. My lettuces, spinach, rocket all need thinning. I like to sow quite thick as I am a believer that it makes for stronger plants after some seedlings are removed. I am also always struck about what a complete bargain a packet of seeds is, all that wonder and goodness for a couple of quid. The more tender crops, such as my heritage tomatoes and beans will go in over the next couple of weeks, sown into propagators in my kitchen. I will be down the allotment this week in preparation for these plants, although they will not be planted out until mid - May at the earliest. This makes sure that I swerve any late frosts on these clear spring days. My bamboo cane wigwams will go up in preparation anyway, as it gets me in the mood.

Actually, I have just returned from my adventures in Sri Lanka, so I’d be lying if I said I’ve done much gardening over the past three weeks. It is an amazing country and I enjoyed seeing all those tropical plants, covering the landscape and making it so different from Blighty. However ascend into the Sri Lankan highlands and many familiar crops also start to appear, beans and carrots in abundance. There are a few other things of note that I would like to share with you. The marvellous jack fruit is found on the many stalls selling fruit and veg on the roads of Sri Lanka, cut in pieces and spiced it has both the taste and texture not unlike chicken. A jack fruit curry really does taste good and I recommend you try it! The Sri Lankans seem quite fond of gardening and their wonderful Botanic garden in Kandy is testimony to that. Their own gardens, however, are a mix of ornamentals and food growing, it is not unusual to see both bananas and bougainvillaea growing side by side outside a house.
Tea production is massive part of the Sri Lankan economy and, along with the spice gardens, tea bushes are prevalent, especially in the highlands. I was treated to the end process of tea production and how the leaves are treated, dried and the different methods used to produce different teas. It was great to see the big old British machines that are still used today in the four processes of drying the leaves, remnants of our industrial manufacturing past. I will think of those machines every time I have a cuppa. Sri Lanka offers wild elephant, blue whales, rainforests and monkeys - but even in the humblest of abodes they still love to garden, and every house seems to have a few pots of croton, hibiscus and pelargoniums.
Back home, we are once again taking the organic message on tour this year so I will be preparing my talks on organic principles, urban organic gardening and school gardening, I look forward to catching up with any of our members who’ll be out and about at the annual flower shows.
Finally, the big and exciting news. Sarah Brown and myself have begun the Garden Organic Podcast, offering news, gardening tips and advice, answering any questions and interviewing some of the many gardening experts in UK – from horticultural therapists to seed merchants, garden writers and top gardeners. The first episode is already out – you can access it here, or via your phone’s app. We’d really like you to listen and subscribe! And why not get in touch and tell us what you think.
Happy gardening people!