Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On the Value of Successional Sowing

I appear to have spent the last three days under glass myself; the bulk of my first successional sowings complete. I feel thoroughly marvellous and sensible, and rather like the Wise Virgins. Sowing your seeds in succession means you to sow just enough seeds to raise plants to flower or crop at fortnightly/monthly intervals. This enables you to harvest a continuous supply throughout the growing season, and thus the dreaded glut is avoided.

A glut occurs when all your crops are ready in the same two weeks (along with everyone else's), and you feel duty bound to eat, for example, 178 sweet corn cobs in that fortnight because you grew them and no-one else will take them off your hands. Alternatively, you eat one every night for a week, dripping with Maldon and butter, then decide to turn your kitchen into a veritable canning/freezing factory to avoid eating any more or throwing them to the pigs.

Both are wasteful, and as with all delicious things, moderation is the order of the day. Brassicas are the most forgiving vegetable, as you can still sow 60 seeds each month for three months, and just eat baby-sized cabbages as spring greens, rather than thinning out or allowing to mature to their full size. Mind you, as I wrote in an early post last season, anyone with a prostate should be eating brassicas at least three times each week, so perhaps it's a good thing to ignore successional sowing and go for the brassica glut with gusto. I don't have a prostate so I eat at least four servings each week. I just adore cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflowers, pak choi, and the best of all, mashed swede with lashings of butter and black pepper. Thank goodness I've set on at least a dozen varieties of brassicas this season.

And this morning I set out a double row of broad beans, Imperial Green Longpod, perched on a plank laid out between rows just like Monty Don advises. At least the snow showers held off today, unlike Monday and Tuesday when sowing carrots felt like appearing as an extra in Dr Zhivago.

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