Food Growing Urban

Beetroot seedlings

Soil blocks in 2023.
Is this a jungle? It just came alive and took him.
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.

The last frost here in London is towards the end of March. If you were to plant seeds outdoors after that point you’d have to wait a while to get a vegetable you could eat. Therefore you plant seedlings earlier indoors in the warmth, and get a head start. And then you transplant them outdoors as soon as it’s a bit warmer because a frost will kill many types of seedlings. I use some cheap LED grow lights because there’s not enough light on my window ledge. In theory it would be good to have a greenhouse but I don’t have enough space for one. Furthermore this early in the year you’d need to heat a green house somehow. I heat my study already because I work here. Therefore, on balance, I think it’s justifiable.

If you don’t have enough light the seedlings get “leggy”. The poor things are stretching themselves up higher to reach a light they perhaps assume is just out of reach; like they think they are under a pile of leaves or summat. And then they fall over. This, below, is my leggy seedlings last year – terrible. But you know they planted just fine outdoors and grew into big healthy beetroot. You just bury them and their stems a little deeper in the soil. I’m not going to have that problem this year. In fact I’m pretty happy with how they are looking.

I’m planting all my seeds in soil blocks which are like home-made chocolate brownies. You could make them just as easily squeezing the soil into a little ball and popping the seed in the top. That’s apparently how lots of native peoples do it. Maybe I’ll try that in the next batch. I plant a lot of beetroot because it’s maybe my favourite vegetable. I like to roast it. Delicious.

2022’s leggy seedlings.