I have waited for this moment for such a long time, probably since about October last year. But then again most years it is long a waited – although not as long as I have waited this year. It is so exciting – it’s the start of something new. A new growing season.
Today I sowed my first seeds. The peppers, chillies and eggplant. Experience has taught me that they need the biggest head start of all the plants I will grow. They need to hit the ground running if I’m to get any fruit at all. Last year was the most disastrous for these guys and I learnt two valuable lessons:
Number 1: Fresh is best. Make sure the seeds are fresh and two years is probably as old as I’d let them get. Last year they were three years old and I had so much trouble getting them to grow that my pepper bed was a dismal sight with hardly any plants.
Number 2: Peppers need a constant 22°C (71.6°F) for optimum germination. I looked it up when I couldn’t get things to grow last year. The greenhouse, while warm during the day just gets too cold at night at this time of year. The best place inside the house is on the top of the fridge as the warm air that comes up the back is just right for those wee babies. Sadly the top of my fridge is so chocked up with junk that I’m really not all that desperate to sort out just now, so that location is out of the question. But I have found somewhere better – the top shelf of the hot water cupboard – provided I can get the family to keep the door shut. I think I need a sign.
I have also learnt in my pepper growing history that you should NEVER give up on a barren pepper seed tray. I once had one come up after 53 days!
I knew by October last year that I was in trouble as what plants I did get in were late going in and I hoped and prayed for an Indian summer. This is not an effective strategy to guarantee a bountiful harvest, but it was all I had. It was all too awful. We got an early frost and so we only ended up with a taste of all things hot – but certainly not enough to make my awesome hot sweet chilli sauce.
This year is going to be different. I am starting nice and early, with heaps of time for a replant or two if necessary. It is going to be a great season – it has to be. It would just be too cruel to have two crappy summers in a row. So for me this first seed is the first stirrings of spring and summer and the warmer, drier weather. I now have a tangible link to those incredible sunny days that never seem to end, and I shall be there, sitting in the warm glow of an evening sun with a chilled glass of something, basking in the bountiful produce surrounding me.
That is how it will be and I will cling to that thought. I don’t know how much more of this cold wet I can do before becoming permanently soggy. I hope I haven’t over hyped this blog, but for me it is the most special day of the whole growing season – it’s the start!
Come again soon – it is only going to get busier from now on!
Sarah the Gardener : o )