In the first plant sale I arranged I added seeds to the boxes for a couple of reasons. One, seeds are amazing. Two, seeds are cheap.
More? Oh. Ok. So, dear reader – here we go, the seed blog.
One of the many (how can I choose) joys of gardening is watching things grow. In particular, watching something grow from apparently nothing. The expectation, the anticipation, crouching down in the cold damp early spring studying the earth to see if anything is growing or checking out a windowsill of fly catching damp earth to see if life will come. The joy of spotting tiny green shoots, the feeling of triumph as leaves and stems become viable plants. Oh, happy days.
I mean, don’t get me wrong; sometimes crushing disappointment is also part of this process but hey, it’s all a learning experience!
No one loves seeds more than children. A great starter for the very young is cress (naught to edible in 10 days) and broad beans (you can pretty much watch it grow it moves so fast) followed by sun flowers for the patiently competitive. Having windowsills full of cut up plastic milk bottles filled with compost and slathered over with hope and excess water is what childhood should be filled with. (Note to self: punch drainage holes in bottom before filling with compost. Doh!)
I’m deeply practical so confess my seed endeavours are heavily geared around perennials, guaranteeing maximum return for the same effort put into an annual. However, my daughter is catching on and we have done a good line in M&S seed pots (thank you lockdown when the massive reduction in spring ’20 shoppers meant if you actually turned up to a physical shop you got fistfuls of these gems) and free seed packets in wellbeing bags and off cereal packets. It’s not fool proof; the tomatoes will come too early because everything has to be planted NOW and of course we will move around harvest time which will be traumatic (her) and frustrating (me).
None the less, plough on dear gardeners. Here are some tips to help.
Firstly and most importantly, support the military sisterhood by following #bloomsfromthebase and listening to @let’sgrowgirls . Military partner Sarah Hulyer is teaching us all as fast as she’s learning to develop a cutting garden behind the wire. Inspired to bring cheer to the wives of deployed personnel she started growing flowers to give as floral gifts and now here we are, sowing seeds of happiness around the military. From this podcast you can learn everything from the ‘No dig gardening method’ (no really, check it out!) to how best to plant certain seeds, split certain plants and more…much more.
Needless to say, the internet holds all the advice you need simply by typing in ‘how do I grow seeds’ you’ll most definitely work it out. Like recipes on the internet, you’ll probably read three suggestions then make up your own method. It’s pretty fool proof in the main; seeds are very forgiving because there’s generally eleventy billion in a packet so if the first five don’t work, definitely give it another go two weeks later.
However, there are some obvious places to go on the internet for tried and trusted advice.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is the first and last word in advice on British gardening. The font of all knowledge with a very user friendly website, this is an excellent resource for new and experienced gardeners.
Grow Like Grandad is a lesson in how your hobby can become your passion and take over your life. My tagline ‘one man and his allotment’ gives you a clue. However, what’s completely brilliant (and relevant – stick with me here) is his Seed Price Index (SPI). Modelled on the government’s RPI he compares the prices of various reputable purveyors of vegetable seeds. It’s very clever! And useful. The important word in this para is ‘reputable’. You may get cheaper seeds on Amazon but….beware the cheap, Chinese import. It defiantly doesn’t do what it says on the packet, probably won’t arrive in time for this year’s growing season and the customer service team won’t give a bat’s wing about your complaints. Back to Grow like Grandad – it’s a lovely stroll through information, tips and gardening chatter. I could get lost on here like others get lost on Pinterest.
And finally – buying seeds. I’d better get to the point of all this. Who’s still with me?! So, when I was madly researching everything for the first DE plant sale options it boiled down to were as follows:
Moose Seeds I hadn’t heard of them either but I can confirm they are a delight to deal with and are very competitively priced. (In fact, they were the cheapest). Their range is small and their website simple. It was perfect for me; easy to find exactly what I wanted. An outstanding starting point for DE Gardeners. In their words “We are a UK based seed supplier that has over 20 years experience in the gardening industry. Selling vegetable seeds, herb seeds and flowers seeds at affordable prices for a number of years.”
R P Seeds A niche supplier of specialist seeds which I found searching for wildflower mixes (sadly they sold out before I could buy). Probably not many DE gardeners are going to need to shop here regularly BUT it would be a lot cheaper to buy a packet of Abutilon seeds here and give it a go than buying nursery size plants. Just saying. (Note to self: return when garden world domination imminent; fabulous plant).
D T Brown An old fashioned looking A5 paper brochure fell onto the doorstep saying ‘Est 1908’ and it looked like it. For me, a delightful read with a cup of tea. Then I discovered that behind this gentle front was a lean, mean website, which was fab. Good variety of commonly sought fruit, veg and flowers. The clincher here is the 99p packets. A brilliant way of slipping in some ‘gifts’ to boxes to get people in the mood, a very cost-effective solution to small scale gardeners like us.
There are, of course, lots of suppliers of seeds and as with most products when you start looking you realise that branding, name recognition, fancy marketing all racks the price up. But hey, anything to get you giving it a go!