Seeking inspiration, I looked back at what I’d posted as sixes in Januaries past. No help there. Walking round the garden didn’t help much either. It’s cold and wet and dull. Next door have a mini digger in and are starting to do something, so we have a grandstand seat to watch and tut. Anyhow, back to the task in hand:
Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’. I planted several clumps of these in the garden in autumn 2019 and while they did flower in 2020, they were overshadowed by some I’d planted in a pot. This year, it looks as if the corms that were left in the pot are going to do very little and those in the garden get their chance to shine.
Euphorbia mellifera. This has been growing here for longer than just about any other plant in the garden. It grows up and out, blocks the path, starts to become a nuisance, so I cut it back to make it start again. I cut it about every second year, when it seems to need doing. In 2020 I chopped it in May, cutting out all the flowered shoots and leaving the unflowered ones. They had been growing up below the flowering shoots and had become a bit spindly, so a couple of months later, with lots of new growth coming from the base, I cut them all off as well. I could have done it in one go but left some growth to feed new shoots. Now it is all sturdy new growth of the same age and looks great. It won’t flower this year, but next year it will and it will likely get chopped again.
Agave macroacantha. Black-spined Agave or large spined Agave. Who’d have thought it, this has big black spines. I bought it for Sue from Tregrehan Plant Fair a few years back and she has raised a number of young plants from offsets, This one, the parent plant, was looking somewhat tatty and there was no room in the greenhouse so it got left outside. So far it is showing no signs of damage from cold. It’s a lean, hungry plant and may now be big enough and hard enough to survive outdoors, in which case it can join A. parryi and A. montana out the front. I’m not keen on moving it around, it’s heavy and vicious.
Fuchsia ‘Cotta Christmas Tree’. This has decided that mid-winter is when it wants to flower and whom am I to argue. I love these species crosses, F. decussata x F. crassistipula in this case, but like a lot of the species, they flower very late in the year if they’re hard pruned in spring. If you don’t prune they get enormous but have to come in for the winter because they’re not hardy and need a lot of room. The flowers are about 7cm long.
Peas, ‘Hurst Greenshaft’. I sowed Peas and Broad beans to germinate indoors so I can put them in my tunnel for an early crop. I’m new to growing veg in the tunnel, I don’t really know what I’m doing. The peas aren’t even an early variety but I’d saved my own seed from them last summer and partly I wanted to test their viability. They’re now out in the greenhouse where the temperature is much lower but the light level much higher.
More seeds. I didn’t really need any more seeds but you know how it is, the slightest pretext for looking at a seed catalogue and you’re hooked. The whole concept of saving your own seed, it gradually acclimatising to your own conditions, of conserving genetic material and eroding the stranglehold of big business and their grip on this vital part of the food supply chain. Whatever. There’s a part of that narrative that really strikes a chord with me and another part that says it’s just a different marketing angle. Who wouldn’t trust a company that is apparently trying to put itself out of business by encouraging you to buy their seeds just once, then save your own ever after. Not that most of their customers will, and if they do, it’ll only be of one or two things. It seems to me there are some inconsistencies in the narrative, like how if a vegetable strain has been kept going for the last 100 years it’s going to have much diversity to adapt to my local conditions. How, if it does adapt to my conditions to a significant degree, am I really conserving the pure strain.
What does appeal though is the idea that they have not been bred only to crop well under intensive culture with lots of fertiliser and chemicals to control pests and diseases. They haven’t been bred to all mature at the same moment so they can be harvested in a single pass or by machine. I find it hard to strike the right balance between cynicism and gullibility.
I placed a small order with Real Seeds. It could have been Vital Seeds, or a number of others. I’ve bought from them before, a number of years ago, so I’m having another go. Some are things I already have seeds of, so I have something to compare them with. I must try to make a meaningful comparison, then record and report on it.
Well, that’s not too shabby a six if you ask me. The thing is, the Euphorbia and the Agave are always there, just not doing anything to draw attention to themselves. Just because they aren’t doing anything they weren’t doing last week or last month shouldn’t exclude them. Time to get this in the post and head off to see what El Propagador has to offer this week and where his floo network will lead this week.