A couple of months ago I wrote a post about time, thinking forward, and how much gardening involves being aware of the seasons in advance. I still get trapped by the turning of the wheel of the year. Stop, I’m not ready for you yet!
I’m not sure whether you call this mid-winter or late winter – it’s close to the cusp – in just under a week now we will start the steep bit of the climb towards the long hot days of summer. It is really a little too early to start planting the seeds of the summer crops, even in my frost-free sub-tropical garden. Most of the summer fruiting crops use soil temperature, as least partly, as a signal to germinate. But it is too late for any more peas or broad beans. They would just be starting to bear when the October heat would bring on powdery mildew and aphids.
So I’m taking a gamble this weekend and putting in a few seeds of capsicums (Corno de Toro), eggplants (Snowy and Red), tomatoes (San Mazano), tomatillos, and basil (lime and Thai). The seedling mix is quite sandy and I shall keep it in a sunny spot in the shadehouse so as to get the soil temperature up. If I was really keen I’d use a window pane over the top to make a mini-glasshouse, and even put the box on top of a compost pile to use its heat. But pushing too hard is not usually a good idea. Like any kind of forcing, problems just break out somewhere else – in diseases or lack of pollinators or slow growth. And in any case, I’ll be flat out finding room for them until the cabbages and cauliflowers and broccoli and broad beans are out.