In 'Dig This' I look at a specific item of interest in detail. This month it is a slightly different take on being guided by the weather.
Broad Beans later in the year
When to sow seeds?
Seed packets, gardening books, and newspaper columns all offer helpful advice on when to sow your seeds. Being in the north donít forget to add a couple of weeks. One experienced allotmenteer advised me to keep a diary, which I did, but is every year the same? Another said garlic on the longest day, shallots on January 1st and early potatoes on Good Friday. This perhaps implies more about how little difference it makes than when to plant, because Easter is a moveable feast. A novice helpfully proffered this little nugget: 'Watch everybody else and plant when they do'.
Nature is the guide not charts
I reckon the key to it all, including when to sow, is the weather. Science would back me up because for virtually anything to grow the temperature of the soil needs to be at least 5įC . All the above methods offer a rough guide, but I try to understand nature and go with the flow, being guided by the weather.
Onions and Shallots await planting
He who hesitates
At its simplest this means the beginner has to learn what the farmer grows up with. Itís an extended version of 'make hay while the sun shines': 'get out while you can'. Work outside when the weather permits. Inside work may be fitted around it. If you get up early and itís a lovely day, get out there. If you read the paper and eat a leisurely breakfast, as you leave the house the spots of rain begin to land on you. Seize the hour!
Weed when it's hot
Weeding is a waste of time unless it's followed by a hot day. Weeding by hoe or hand followed by dry conditions and the plot is clear of weeds and the veg can relax a bit. So, satisfying. The weather is the key with sowing seeds too. Why plant seeds if there is no water to germinate them or the soil is too cold. It makes sense to plant early when conditions are right, but if not, wait. Be patient. Sow just as a dry spell breaks, if possible and only when the soil is suitably warmed up. In this way I try to stay in touch with nature. I never get to being as one with it Ė but I get as close as I can. My Diary reveals that over the last few years I have planted shallots & broad beans on 11 March (2001), 10 March (2002), 23 February (2003), 15 February (2004) 12 March (2005) 25 March (2006) ,March 4 (2007) February 28 (2008). And this year March 3rd, weather permitting, but it could have been earlier if I had taken the plunge.