A Wonderful Paradox

The world feels upturned in more ways than one at the moment, but let’s face it, we’re lucky to be here.

Seriously lucky to be here!

Think about it. There are a gazillion ways to die! There’s disease, and not just covid 19. My mind is blown when I consider how we humans are still on this planet. How did we as a species survive the gruesome Black Death or even the measles? There are all sorts of tiny microbes that can kill us – unicellular animals, fungus, bacteria, as well as viruses. And then there are diseases not caused by microbes – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, the list goes on. Amazingly, the combined efforts of all the various diseases in existence haven’t yet managed to kill all humans. Add to that the number of humans who are trying to kill other humans. And the mishaps we incur against ourselves. Not to mention natural disasters or catastrophes arising from the cesspit we turn our environment into just by being in it. And well, sure, it’s just a miracle that we exist at all…

Life is fragile and robust, all at once. It’s a wonderful paradox.

Here we are at the tail end of winter. The trees look dead. The hedgerows are scraggy twigs. But if you listen, you can actually hear spring in the air – birdsong!

And if you look closely enough, you will see leaves budding on the branches and green shoots emerging from the soil.

I love the way this crocus shoot has emerged within a sheath for protection. Nature is so clever.

And this daffodil has its hood up until it is brave enough to burst into full blossom.

With garden centres closed because of covid regulations and goodness knows what happening with seedling supply because of  Brexit, I decided it was time to get some seeds planted.

Planting seeds is such an act of faith. These little hard kernels appear so lifeless, and then we give then some water, and warmth and TLC (I’m convinced the TLC makes all the difference) and hey-presto, a tiny green leaf is pushed up through the soil.

The above pansy seed is so tiny I can barely get the camera to focus on it. The seeds were so minuscule they made a cloud of fine dust, and I wasn’t even sure they were seeds!

I can’t even explain the joy I feel when my seeds germinate. It’s so life-affirming. My blog is full of posts about the germination thing. I swear it’s the best thing ever…

This alyssum’s cotyledons (first leaves) are still clinging to the seed coat. It reminds me of a child clutching their ‘blankie’.

So a quick tutorial about sowing seeds…

Read the packet and follow the instructions – I qualified as a Master Gardener a decade ago. However, I still read and follow the packet instructions! They will tell you when to seed, where, how deep and how far apart the seeds should be.

My top tip for peas (more about planting peas seeds here) is to presoak the seeds in water for a day or so before planting them.

This makes the seeds wet (obviously), so I have found that if I use a stick to push them into the soil to the correct depth, I avoid a lot of the mess of soil clinging to my fingers. You can see here, I marked on the stick how deep I need to push the seed into the (lovely soft) soil.

Speaking of soil – The first gardening lesson I learned as a Master Gardener was this: If you are spending a dollar on your garden, use 90 cents to buy soil. So I always make sure I have a few bags of good potting compost to hand. Last year when the world was panic-buying toilet paper, I was sourcing compost instead! Don’t plant seeds in the soil from your garden if you can help it because that soil will invariably have weed seeds, moulds, fungus and all sorts of extra soil microbes that probably will interfere with your seedlings.

Label your pots! I bought a white marker especially for writing on the black pots. I keep a list of my abbreviations (just in case!) but SSP = sugar snap peas. MTP = mange tout peas. That’s to make sure I don’t get them mixed up with the inedible but fragrant and ornamental SWP = sweetpeas.

Snow lay outside while I planted my first round of seeds. I turned the kitchen into a potting shed for the afternoon. Well, it’s not like I was going to have anyone drop by for a cuppa!

Less than two weeks later, I was rewarded with my first leaves.

Nearly everything has germinated now, and if I’m feeling a touch of the lockdown blues, I just go and look at my seedlings.

Maybe by the time these sweetpeas are in full blossom, we might have this pandemic behind us – or have at least kicked it well into touch.

Springtime is a time for hope and never more so than this year.

Byddi Lee

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