Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Sowing Lettuce

The other day I got the urge. You know the one: a spare hour, sun shining, greenhouse warmer than it’s felt for months… ‘Tomatoes!’ I thought. I could sow some tomatoes in the propagator, and get really ahead of things this year. I will have ripe, luscious tomatoes in July, June even!

A little voice was nagging at me, saying, essentially ‘Ahem. It’s the beginning of February’ so I popped into twitter, to ask the opinion of some fellow gardeners. If you aren’t a twitter regular, let me explain something. Twitter is great for making connections, wasting time, having fun, but one of its primary purposes is as a great encourager. Seeking approval for something risque? Ask twitter. The raciest course is always encouraged. So if someone writes ‘Shall I open a fresh bottle of wine or have a cup of Horlicks?’ a chant starts up: ‘Wine! Wine!’. If I say ‘Red dress or black for the do?’ back comes the cry ‘Red!’. And sure enough, when I wrote ‘Am I mad to sow tomato seeds today?’, gardeners from across the land wrote back ‘Go for it!’ ‘I did mine at Christmas!’ and so on, as I knew they would. But then came the naysayers, reminding me of the clogging up of windowsills, the daily fretting over plants growing taller and thinner and more sickly, of plants ready for the greenhouse weeks before the weather is warm enough. A cautious voice on twitter is worth three in real life, so I stepped back from the brink, and satisfied my urges with some lettuce seeds. In the greenhouse I sowed just six modules each of deep-red-leaved ‘Cardinale’, pale green ‘Reine de Glaces’ and tasty butterhead ‘Carmona’. Urges have been quelled, for the moment, and fresh spring salads are underway.