Improving relationships

So far, no sign of the ruby-tinted spinach we seeded back in early March: too hot, too cold, too wet, too windy or perhaps it was the squirrels? Germinating seed is sometimes more difficult than you think, particularly in open ground.

Last season, our scattering of radishes and chard directly into our leafy veg bed worked well. We sowed late August, seedlings appeared quickly in the warm and moist soil. The chard has overwintered. This season we’ve managed peppers and tomatoes so far, but sown in small pots or seed trays, and cossetted in a greenhouse.

Perhaps the problem is the relationship between the soil and the seed. ‘Timely cultivation to make a tilth will ensure a good relationship between seed and soil’, says the voice on a useful RHS video on seeding vegetables. Our soil is quite friable and loose – fairly tilth-like – but perhaps we didn’t define our ‘drills’ sufficiently to bring soil and seed together harmoniously?  The video is well worth watching for a reminder of basic techniques, and I rather liked the idea of gardeners cast in the role of relationship facilitators.

We’ll probably go back to sowing in trays of seed compost first, and then planting out the transplants: the relationship between soil and seed is easier to nurture, without the direct interventions of weather and wildlife. Ruby spinach in a seed tray, courgette seeds in small pots should be no problem – but early sowings of French beans even in individual pots have sometimes defeated me.  Too wet, they rot; too dry, they shrivel –  oh yes, French beans can be very fussy about their relationships.

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