Dutch weather is among the most unpredictable things in the world. It gets annoying, really. Between the end of February and the middle of May you can never tell whether you’ll be needing warm mittens or skimpy dresses. There will likely even be days where you’ll need both.
The months in which you have no idea what to wear are the same months I need to start my seeds for my garden. After last year’s tomato debacle I haven’t given up. I actually got even more enthusiastic, buying a miniature windowsill greenhouse and lots of seeds. Instead of buying seedlings, I decided to grow them myself. I also decided to plan my garden differently and to diversify a bit. I started reading up on things and learned scary words like cotyledons.
It’s all for a good cause though. With a little bit of luck and a bit of assistance from the weather gods, we will likely hardly buy vegetables this summer. Everything should be obtained from either our own garden, or through trading with other people’s tiny urban gardens. My friends who grow lettuce will like zucchini, and I can definitely use some salad greens later on.
On March 12th I planted my first seeds. I filled the window box with three types of tomatoes, artichokes, 5 different colors of bell peppers, some chili peppers and eggplant seeds. A little bit of luck gave us some sunny days which made the tomatoes sprout quick enough. The artichokes soon followed and then I waited. Every day I looked at my box and saw the tomatoes getting bigger and bigger, the artichokes grew and besides that, nothing. I’ve never been a patient person, so I’m sure it went much faster than I thought, but really, it felt like the other veggies, the peppers and eggplant, just wouldn’t grow.
Eventually they grew. The eggplant unfortunately lost it’s battle between the repotting of everything else, followed by drying out and getting too wet. When that box isn’t completely full anymore the water balance gets really iffy, I tell you. However, I managed to save my peppers and they are thriving in various cups and bowls now.
Yes, I got a little over enthusiastic, resulting in a shortage of pots and a funny sight of plants in cups, mugs and bowls. It looks festive enough though, and as long as my veggies have more room to grow, I’m okay with washing dishes a little more often.
By now the second haul is well underway. My 4 species of squash are growing so well that the lid was pushed off (and now they live in yet another array of cups and mugs). The second try at eggplant is proving to give me much nicer looking seedlings. The artichokes have been planted in the garden, as well as a couple of the tomatoes (They have grass jars over them right now, to protect them from possible frost.) The other tomatoes are still hardening day by day and will be planted soon.
In the mean time I’m trying my best to find suitable homes for a lot of my seedlings. I only have room for 3 more tomato plants, while I still have 12 left to plant. I can only manage 4 or 5 squashes and I have a whooping 24 in total. If I still want to plant my chicory and rocket I can only handle 3 or 4 eggplants, 2 chilis and 5 or 6 bell peppers, and yes, there are more of those too. Having nursed them from seed, I don’t want to just throw them out.
I can’t wait until the weather evens out a bit. That crazy unpredictable weather should soon give up on the risk of frost and give in to my drive to grow my own food. Within a month or so I hope to be eating the first bites of home grown squash and herbs. And soon thereafter tomatoes and greens and peppers and maybe even artichokes. I honestly can’t wait!
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