Seeds. They’re the source, of life, of ideas, of plants, of trees, of my madness, of days spent hopefully watching pots on a windowsill praying for instant germination. I seem to have spent all week thinking about seeds, buying seeds, organising seeds, sowing seeds, watering seeds, willing seeds to grow. In ten days, I’ll be taking my first step onto my allotment. One hundred square metres of muck, weeds and potential.
I better back track for a minute though, before those of you who know me well, think I’ve been abducted by aliens and replaced with an organic farmer. Eighteen months ago, my dad got himself an allotment in the lovely victorian walled garden of St Annes Park in Raheny. I never fully understood the joy of growing food until the day he brought home his first crops of beetroot and kale and they were so much nicer than those you buy in the supermarket. One bite of those beets and I was hooked. Funnily enough, I was never one to eat veggies, especially not my greens, until I ate them fresh from the garden and I am now a bona fide veggie convert. There’s literally nothing nicer in the world than eating peas straight from the pod or the smell of tomato vines on a warm summer day.
I have since pined for my own allotment. I have never gardened much before, apart from helping to weed my mams garden or watering her plants. I have always loved it though, it’s the ultimate stress relief, nothing like getting your hands dirty to take your mind off the rest of life’s muck. In January, my boyfriend, Dave, spotted a sign for a new allotment site in Malahide. I called immediately and within a few hours, I had aqcuired myself an allotment. Ever since, I’ve been very garden-centered (excuse the pun). I’ve been planning my plot, deliberating what to grow, ordering seeds, reading gardening books, going to talks on growing potatoes, learning all about composting and buying gardening tools. I seem to have caught the proverbial gardening bug.
With less than two weeks to go, I have decided to start my growing. It’s still very early in the year and quite a while before we get the last of our ground frosts, however, some plants benefit from being started early. I bought my seed potatoes yesterday and they are now chitting away on a windowsill in egg boxes and seed trays. This is simply a process by which you let your seed potatoes sprout, thereby helping the growing process. They’re in a bright, dry spot, not too warm, the ideal conditions for chitting. I will be planting my early variety in mid march, the tradition is to plant on Paddys Day. I’ll plant my main crop a couple of weeks later in early April. I got Maris Piper for my main crop variety as a certain chef boyfriend won’t stop talking about how they make perfect chips, and well, who doesn’t love chips?
Seeds though, that’s where the real excitement is. All it takes is some muck, water and light and those little seeds do amazing things. On Friday, I sowed my first seeds of the year. Two varieties of sweet peppers and two varieties of chillies. Chillies and peppers need heat and humidity so don’t fare very well in our climate unless grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel. I have the seeds germinating in a heated propagator, this regulates the soil temperature at about twenty degrees, which should give them a good start in life. They will take at least seven days to germinate but could take anywhere up to three weeks to get started. I’m very hopeful for these little seeds, they are they very first crop I’m growing for my plot. Hopefully they’re just the first of many successes. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.
I have great plans for the plot, I have a huge amount of seeds stockpiled, including some unusual veggies and I’m positively itching to get digging. The planning has gotten so out of hand that I used my graphic design “skills” to draw up a 3D plan of how I’d like my plot to look. I’ll put that up tomorrow or the next day, might give you a giggle.