Sunday, 15 March 2009

Potty pottings

Being the helpful person that I am, I thought I would pass on to you today's learning. And that is potting. Here are the tools you will need: yog pots, tray, pen, spade, manure+earth in bucket, spare container for bits not needed in the yog pots (worms, stones, twigs, etc). Oh and gloves to protect the manicured nails and for picking up worms. Plus a writing pad to write down what has been potted. And, of course, some seeds.

1) With gloves on, stir up bucket contents, removing any wrigglies and hard bits. You don't want those in the pot. They are small containers and there is hardly room for the plants let alone giving house room for worms, and other detritus.

2) With trowel, if you have one, or spade in my case, endeavour to fill the containers reasonably full. If the manure is lumpy, you may need to break it up, only a clod of manure can entirely fill a yog pot, which might overwhelm any little seedling which tries to grow. In our case, it was donkey manure, which still retains a degree of lumpiness. Pat contents down. Give yog pot a sip of water.

3) Remember to have made a hole in the bottom of the yog pot: to make hole, find useful sharp instrument. A screwdriver 'borrowed' from Lester's toolbox was found. Ignite a flame. I used the gas ring. Carefully hold instrument over the flame to heat up. Done when it glows. Thrust instrument through bottom of pot from the inside. The other direction crumples the pot. Wiggle instrument, maybe give a bit of a push. Hole done!

NB: Remember to have ventilation as melting plastic can get fumey, and if you are doing a hole after having filled the pot, well.... be warned! The contents are likely to spill out everywhere.

And here I must apologise to Lester: I thought I retrieved all the soil+manure. Honestly, I did. It wasn't my fault that you was late. And I wasn't being in huff mode because you went off on a hunt for more manure with Bruno, and I said it was nearly dinner time, but then it got later and later, so I went ahead and ate my dinner anyway, leaving yours on top of the cooker. I thought I managed to retrieve most of the yog pot contents when they accidently tipped over after I singed my fingers trying to make a hole and couldn't be bothered to empty the contents out first, but they emptied out anyway.

4) On site of potting activity proper: Oh, before I forget, best to have also marked on the pots what is going to be planted inside them before the soil-manure is put inside them. Otherwise, the same difficulties of scatterage might be experienced similar to certain episodes already experienced in the kitchen.
Ok, so get seed packet opened up. Put seeds in the palm of your hand. Let your fingers of that hand be closed together. Be careful to keep seeds craddled in the palm: it can be difficult to remove them from between the fingers if any get stuck there.

5) With thumb and forefinger of other hand, take up as few seeds as possible in a pinching motion. It might be useful to note here, that long fingernails are not helpful in this activity, this being a time when one can bless the shortness of one's nails if one has 'gardening-type' hands. Lester has just mentioned 'seed tweezers' are useful. Are they like eyebrow tweezers? I can't see them working if they are: I never seemed to be able to grab an eyebrow hair with my tweezers in the olden days of vain-ness, so how would I be able to grab hold of a few seeds. So, no, for me the 'pinch between thumb and forefinger' method is simpler.

6) If possible, using a rubbing motion betwixt thumb and forefinger, drop one or two seeds in the yog pots. A word of encouragement here: it does take a bit of practice to limit the number of seeds dropped into the pot, so if you find you have done too many in a pot, try not to retrieve them - it will only end in disaster, with the yog-pot contents tipped all over the place, leaving all the seeds unfound. Better to leave the pot alone: you can always thin out the seedlings later on.

7) Tap seeds lightly down.

8) Lightly dust over the seeds with a sprinkling of soil-manure. Another little drink. And well done! Potting exercise complete. Survey your handiwork with pride, being careful not to give in to the urge to fiddle about any more with your handiwork.

Now all you have to do is clean up the mess which has been made and try to get the fingers all spit-clean again. But be warned: Once you have embarked upon the gardening lark, then your hands will never look the same again. And neither will your spirit, which will be all shined up because you have made a positive move towards feeding yourself.

Our pussy willow: the light catches the gold of the pollen, giving it a life which is indicative of spring's onward surge.

Real-time gold dug out of the mines of the World, can never rival the real-time gold of a living plant.