gardening · health and wellbeing

Space

It seems each time you glance at the calendar another week has passed by. Someone is saying, ‘is it that time already?’ or ‘was that really three years ago, it feels like yesterday!’ Our perception of time has evolved this way because our days are so oversubscribed. We constantly move from task to task with minds locked into what is ahead, what needs to be dealt with next. As we continue to operate this way, there is very little space to process what is. A sachet of seeds will remedy this.

Whatever the season, it is time to plant something. Your task is simply to determine what that happens to be in your location right now. Gather some seed raising mix, a container with drainage and your seed package. Once your container is filled with the mix, water it well and allow it to fully drain. Plant your seeds individually, following the spacing and depth specifications on your pack. Cover your container with a clear lid or clingwrap and place it near a sunny window. For a more detailed explanation this Youtube clip will take you through the process.

While you are setting your seeds up this way, life space is created and all you are really considering is how the seeds are. From then on each day you will visit them and look and think about them. As they emerge you will marvel at this and look and think about this. When the adult leaves develop from the two baby leaves you will plan their next potting, while you are looking and thinking. When you introduce your young seedlings to the outdoors you will be a mother duck, watching and thinking. Each day they live in the garden soil you will watch the weather and plan for its impact on your plantings. And finally, one morning when you visit your crop a flower will be there.

And that is when you will really know why you planted your package of seeds.

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PS After the joy of the blooms has wilted and dried, you can then gather the seed and create the space once again.

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family · gardening

Sprout

sprouted seeds

To have the privilege, be the silent observer of life unfolding in its most rudimentary form, has great impact on the psyche of the young. To know the grain will become the tree, plants the seed of understanding regarding our own place on this terra firma. And holding this belief, I have enormous gratitude for my mother, who in recent weeks, arranged a sprouter for the youngest in our family, so he too could make this cognitive connection for himself.

Seed sprouters have certainly made significant leaps since my early days. Ours, being ice-cream lids or saucers lined with damp cotton wool, played the role of propagators to handfuls of wheat. Every kindergarten nature table in the 1970’s displayed them proudly. The sprouting science did not stop there, but continued on into early high school. ‘Controlled experiments’  were devised to prove hypotheses around photosynthesis – one poor saucer being sentenced to a darkened cupboard whilst the other basked on the sill. After a short space of time it became abundantly clear to us all, as we extracted the yellowed, wispy lifeless growth from the pitch, that plants do indeed require sunlight to thrive. Basic conversion of light to energy – simple chemistry.

If you believe that your grasp (and that of your progeny) of your collective place in the scheme of things is quite sound, rendering a seed propagator superfluous, then there’s more to be learnt. Once their educational role has been performed, these lovely shoots will become nutritious accompaniments to your sandwiches, salads and stir fries. Think alfalfa, radish and broccoli (below) for your sandwiches, adzuki beans, mung beans and lentils for your salads and chick peas and soya beans for extra protein in your next stir fry. Who knew that simple germination could yield such results?

seed sprouter

Postscript: and for the Breaking Bad fans amongst us, in the words of Walter White: always respect the chemistry.

gardening

Poppy

Red poppy

For reasons unknown to me, I have always had an affinity to the wayward. A being with its own mind who surges forth without heed has never failed to capture my imagination. Fickle natured cats, colourful friends and the odd eccentric uncle are dotted fondly throughout my history. So therefore, it should not come as a surprise, that in the floral arena, a poppy will win me over faster than any long-stemmed dozen possibly could.

As far as my experience is concerned, poppies are a law unto themselves. Try cultivating them into obedient rows similar to zinnias or marigolds and you’re bound for frustration. Poppies emerge from where poppies choose. As evidenced above, this rogue poppy produced itself unannounced from a flowerpot that had been designated for another species. Not particularly fussed by this, the poppy is flourishing happily with a lamb’s ear. Like anyone who has sat in a contorted position for a lengthy period in order to accommodate a sleeping feline, so the lamb’s ear will need to withstand its sardine-like confine until the poppy finishes flowering.

If I cast my mind back over previous seasons, the most glorious poppies that have ever existed in my garden were not the ones whose seeds were carefully laid on the soil and devotedly watered, but those whose seeds were captured by the breeze and laid unattended until sprouting time was deemed appropriate. Poppy life experience has taught me to shake their desiccated heads randomly across the garden beds, and to be enchanted when, without notice, a poppy appears. You can sprout the seeds in small pots or trays and transplant, but the mortality rate is often high. Those that survive though, will give you the most spectacular display and boost your horticultural ego to dazzling heights.

Tall poppies are just that. They rise high above their herbaceous neighbours and steal the limelight – because they are successful and glorious. It is pointless though to cut them down, as their vase life is very limited. Like the human variety, they should be left in their own environment to shine.

As a gardener, if I can persuade you to do nothing else – grow poppies.

Postscript: these red poppies are now pods, beautiful heads full of maturing seeds. If you would like to share in the progeny, leave a comment and I will send you some at seed harvest time.