I'd spent the last two days working the bbq. Saturday was a doddle, but Sunday was crazy. Six hot hours of nonstop cooking pulled pork and turning sausages. As much as I really enjoyed working with these guys at this event, come Sunday afternoon I stank of bbq and was tired, hot and bothered, but my day was not done.
A friend and I were meeting for a seed sowing workshop with the remarkable Kate. I needed help with my sowing endeavours. I had sowed seventy pots with tomato seeds in early October, but only three of them germinated. Three. It was looking like my dreams of a home grown passata party this summer were dashed again. I was keen to find some answers to where I might of gone wrong.
Despite smelling of pork fat, I dashed straight to Cygnet to make the 5pm class. The setting was perfect. After only a moment standing in Kate's beautiful productive garden, filled with vegetables and flowers, with the afternoon sun casting its golden glow, my weary bones felt instantly restored and the smell of grease suddenly (I hope) went unnoticed. I was all ears, ready to listen to some garden wisdom.
Kate belongs to the seed savers network, and is on a mission to show as many people as possible how easy it is to sow, save and share seeds. It's important work.
What did I learn?
To let your vegetable plants grow tall and spindly and go to seed.
Indeed, to think of the seeds as a second crop.
Collect those seeds, save some, plant some and share some.
Let the plants self seed to create new plants in your garden. Move them if they're in the wrong spot, these seedlings will be more robust and healthier than any store bought seedling. And free.
Mixing flowers and plants together means that each little piece of garden you work in will not only look beautiful but create more biodiversity. Which means healthier plants.
I also leant:
A fine tilth not only sounds lovely, but it's important for the seeds that you sow, so they get an easy start.
That a decent sized stick makes a fine rake handle.
That a vintage compost sifter is a must to make your own potting mix (okay, it doesn't have to be vintage, that's just me).
There is such a thing as a ladies spade and that I really need one.
And a fine misting nozzle is essential to keep the seeds moist and not to wash them away with a heavy downpour from a crappy watering can.
Today, I walk around my garden and look at in a different light. It's not messy, it's alive. It needs more flowers mixed in with the veggie patch. And those tall spindly plants that look like they should pulled out and thrown to chooks? The swiss chard, parsnip, parsley and kale? They are the most important plants in garden right now, my second crop, they are next year's seeds, next year's food.
Since the weekend, I'm not sure if it's the very warm days, the eclipse, or the fact I have a little more understanding of seeds and their needs, but those seventy pots of potting mix sitting in the greenhouse have burst into life with a good dozen tomato seedlings popping up since Monday. Too late in the season? Perhaps. But with a good long summer, a fine misting nozzle and a (ahem) ladies spade, we may just get a first, and second crop after all.