Late April in Lockdown
Its late April, the weather has been hot, sunny and very dry. With only one discernible rainshower this month so far.
It would have been a wonderful Spring if everything had been normal, but it’s not. I’m at home furloughed, with only 1 permitted food shop a week. I don’t think my garden has ever had so much attention in the time I’ve lived here.
The original plan for this year was a trip to New York in late March, then home just before Easter, purchase some veg plug plants from a local nursery, and predominantly grow flowers for cutting in the garden this year. I’d dumped many out of date and opened seed packets during the winter with the expectation of purchasing new seed upon my USA return.
Then lockdown happened, I’ve had to resort to growing what seeds I have available, which is plenty adequate, although mostly heritage seeds I was saving for bulking up.
There has been an unprecedented surge in online seed and plant orders, many sites have only been opening for an hour or two a week before their orders are full. I’ve been lucky and managed to purchase some more seeds to make up what I require. There is an air of uncertainty over food security at this time and the near future, and it would appear, many people are intending to grow some of their own food to counteract this. I’m concerned that companies and seed suppliers who would normally be producing crops for this autumn’s seed harvest and subsequently next years seed sales are unable to do so, and as a result, we could very well face a shortage of seeds from next year onwards, this is why it’s important to at least save some of your own seeds from this years growing season, crops such as tomatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, etc…. can all be grown for seed quite easily.
Tomato seed drying from a previous year’s crop.
My non-gardening partner has joked to his family via online that we appear to be panic growing, both my greenhouses are full of seedlings, mostly veg, but I’ve also sown some flowers, a mixture of Cosmos, Rudbeckias, Tithionias, Caster Oil, Giant Sunflowers, and lots of Calendulas are on the go. Basically all varieties I already had in my seed store.
With my last recorded frost a couple of weeks ago, I’m impatient to start planting out my plants. but our last possible frost date is in a few weeks, so for now, its sheets of fleece in use and a longer stay in the greenhouse.
I sowed a packet of 8 Courgette seeds in anticipation of the success of just a few, typically all 8 have germinated and are doing well. normally I’d pass spares on to work colleagues, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I’ve also got very good germination with Sweetcorn Lark as well. So long as my favorite crop of sweet corn comes up, then I’m relatively happy.
An interesting difficulty I do have is the lack of much compost available, a couple of days before the unexpected government lockdown I decided to pop to a local garden center on my way home from work and bought 3 big bags. I would normally not use this particular place at its very expensive and all scented candles and picture frames, but I’m glad I did, I’ve been using the shop-bought stuff for seed sowing and pricking out seedlings, and using old compost from last years cucumbers and tomatoes for tubs, mulch, and outdoor pots.
Compost has become very scarce now, and very expensive, I’m reading lots of occasions online of people placing orders with companies, being charged as much for the compost for the delivery, then never seeing their purchase. There are also adverts from a major seed and plant supplier for plug plants at £6.99 for a single Dwarf Bean, £8.99 for a single tomato plant, and £6.99 for a single Runner Bean plant.
This is behavior that has not gone unnoticed by the horticulture world and online growing community, and I’m sure it will not be forgotten.