Organising This Year’s Planting

I have finally got round to bringing my seed trays downstairs and siting them where they shout at me ‘Get on with it!’ Now (February) is the time to start germinating the seeds. It is necessary to do so indoors so that the compost in the trays is warm enough, but not too warm, for the seeds to germinate. ‘Warm enough’ is about 20C and ‘too warm’ is above 35C. My practice is to fill the trays with all purpose compost and wet the compost with warm water. Then I leave the propagator with the lid on on the warm shelf above the radiator in the kitchen for a couple of days for things to settle down. Then I sow the seeds on the surface. There is no need to bury the seeds, although some people gently press down on the surface of the compost to ensure that the seeds are in good contact. I don’t bother. After four or five days, the tiny shoots start to show. It is a magical moment!

The seeds that I am using this year are from last year’s plants. I read somewhere that each year’s plants become more accustomed to your soil and produce seeds/seedlings which are just a bit more ‘comfortable’ with your type of soil. This year’s seeds are about 7th generation. After a couple of weeks, the seedlings can be thinned, leaving only one or two in each segment of the seed trays. Another couple of weeks later, the strongest can be transplanted into 2″ pots, or bigger if you wish. My mid May, they should be ready to go outside. Be sure that all danger of frost has passed.

But that does not mean that you can ignore soil preparation, but there are short cuts. For various reasons, I cannot see myself double digging the whole plot this year. My intention is to leave last year’s stumps where they are until the weather gets better. I’ll use a fork to loosen the stumps and then, literally, pull them out, which should loosen the soil around the existing roots. I then plan to use the fork to enlarge the hole since the ground roundabout is pretty compacted by walking on it. I have thrown thousands of old tea bags on my compost heap over the months. The ‘paper’ tends to break up, leaving an very soft ‘loam’, which, mixed with rotting grass cuttings, is a nice fertiliser. Oh, and I can add some of the wife’s urine since she has to use a night bag to collect her wee. I water it down about 10 to 1 because it is very strong fertiliser, although I doubt that it would matter provided that there was enough rain to weaken it before planting out.

So, all being well. I should save myself a load of work. Sod the weeds, unless they are deep rooted, like dandelions, or spread rooted like grass.

I regard the growing as a hobby. My only cost is the all purpose compost, which I do not need to buy new every year. This year, I have an unopened bag of fresh compost. What’s left in old bags can go onto the plot. A bit of tidying up is in order!

I have said again and again that it is not about money. It is about achievement. That is why it is called ‘a hobby’. But it is also part of the ‘achievement’ to be successful at minimal cost. What would be the point of doing a lot of work if achieving the result cost you nearly as much as just buying the end product from someone else? That is not the nature of a hobby. “I have a hobby. Every year, I get a decorator in to redecorate the whole house”. That is not a hobby. It is a cost.

I still have last year’s produce in plastic boxes. It is all shredded and flaked, but has not yet been ‘blended together’ to form  2018 ‘blend’. I have a big tub. I pour some from each box into the tub and stir it all up. Then I fill 30 gram sealable plastic bags, put them into a cardboard box and site the box on top of a wardrobe in the warmest room in the house. The idea is to provide a semblance of the conditions required to age the stuff.

The trouble is that you become more and more reluctant to start using the stuff! I really must harden my resolve and, at least, use the 2015 stuff!

I must get the cardboard box down from its site and DO SOMETHING!






6 Responses to “Organising This Year’s Planting”

  1. Timothy Goodacre Says:

    I admire your dedication and fortitude Junican. I would love to know whether your blends are comparible to those we know and love ?

    • junican Says:

      A tricky question. The product immediately after curing tends to be ‘tarty’ in taste. I have tried all sorts of variations in temperature and humidity and time, but the result does not change. The cured leaves look fine, but the taste is iffy. Letting the stuff age for a couple of years seems to reduce the ‘tartness’ of the taste.
      But when I blend it with an equal amount of, say, Pueblo or purchased leaf, or even with cig stuff, the tarty taste disappears.
      It is hard to be sure because, in our climate, our leaves struggle to reach optimum maturity.

      • Timothy Goodacre Says:

        Its lovely to know you are having a result tho Junican. Well done !

  2. Rose Says:

    From my experiments the aging is key and two years is not enough, it gets more palatable in the 3rd and 4th years, I think that’s where the wartime homegrowers went wrong, they didn’t have time to wait.

    • junican Says:

      The idea of waiting for years has never appealed to me, but my experiments with ‘kilning’ have produced crap results. The stuff becomes stronger and stronger, which might be OK for cigars and pipe. Just leaving the stuff in its boxes at room temp does not have that effect.
      But I would still like to ‘tweak’ my methods to produce usable stuff within a few months!

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