It’s time to sow seeds of tomatoes, chillis and peppers indoors to get them off to a flying start. Chillis especially take a long time to mature so they need to get a headstart. They do need to be warm though to germinate. I put mine in the airing cupboard, checking them daily and as soon as they appear they come out and onto a sunny window sill.
This year I am experimenting to see if my home-made leaf mould is good enough as a seed compost, and comparing it with John Innes seed compost. As you can see from the pictures, so far there isn’t much difference. I fully expect those in leaf mould to slow down as time goes on as there is very little goodness in leaf mould. There doesn’t need to be much for seeds to germinate but they will soon need feeding or transplanting into all-purpose compost, once they have their first pair of true leaves. (My leafmould was like dust, having sat in the bottom of the dumpy bag into which I pile the autumn leaves, for several years.)
I would recommend that beginners use a proprietary brand of seed compost when sowing small seeds such as chillis and tomatoes as at least you know that whatever comes up will be your crop and not weeds! The second picture (below) is to show that you don’t need to buy plant pots. Used cardboard coffee cups are great for long-rooted seedlings like beans. Same goes for the tubes in recycled plastic containers. Also, if you use card or paper containers you can plant them straight in the ground without disturbing the roots when the time comes to plant them in the ground – usually April to May.
When the sun comes out and you feel like working in the garden, it is time to prepare your plots by weeding and top dressing with compost and / or farmyard manure. Remember that root crops like carrots and parsnips don’t like recently manured ground so save a patch for them without. The soil needs to be warm for most crops but you can plant broad beans straight into the ground now (if you don’t have too many mice which will nibble them) and you can buy seed potatoes and start them chitting on a sunny windowsill. Onion sets are also on sale now but don’t plant them till March at the earliest.
My next job is to wash last year’s plant pots and prepare the greenhouse for action! Yes I do have plantpots but they have been around for years. I have never actually bought an empty plant pot except for a few large ones to put tomatoes in.
Happy gardening and roll on Spring!!