Monday, 31 March 2014

Waiting game

March has done us proud. Sunshine, just the right amount of rain, enough of a breeze to aid the drying of the ground but insufficient for any real chilling of the bones. And now, for the very reasonable price of one lost hour at the weekend, British Summer Time has arrived, the days lengthening perceptibly and, with the change in the clocks, remaining light until almost eight. The effects of photoperiod on the flowering of plants is complex, though well documented. Its effect on gardeners, while more anecdotal in proof is, I am convinced, no less true for that, the equation being expressed in the following manner: a longer day equals a happier gardener.

And with the light comes the heat – if anything, the temperatures over the last few weeks have been slightly above average. Try telling that to the tomato seeds I’m stubbornly attempting to germinate in an unheated greenhouse. Just as stubbornly, they’re making me wait, of the three varieties only the stalwart  'Money Maker' is showing much sign of life, although, peering very closely, I think I may have seen some embryonic roots emerging in the other modules today. Possibly, just wishful thinking. I tell myself any delay actually plays to my advantage; in previous years I’ve sown indoors both too generously and too early – just becuase you can sow tomatoes in February, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. The resulting small forest of lanky plants never really got away as well as those started a few weeks later. This way, I tell myself, as long as I can protect the tiny seedlings from any late frosts (fleece at the ready in the greenhouse), the timing will be just right. We shall see.

And whie I’m waiting for the tomatoes to do their thing, I can cheer myself with more cooperative characters, among them cleomes (new for me this year), salad leaves and of course the sweet peas. Stil loads to sow, and running rapidly out of space.