9th April 2020

Featured / Food / Outdoors / Xanthe Gladstone

Quarantine Gardening: How to Sow Seeds by Xanthe Gladstone

46 7 mins 1

Xanthe Gladstone is Director of Food and Food Sustainability at The Good Life Experience, Glen Dye Cabins and Cottages and custodian of The Walled Garden at Hawarden.

Xanthe is our resident organic vegetable grower. She ensures the high standard of all food matters, in terms of organic, local and seasonal across the Good Life Society and works constantly to improve our food sustainability, combatting food waste and increasing transparency.

There aren’t many positives that we can get out of this completely surreal, confusing time that is the Covid-19 phase of our lives, but if there is one tiny speck of positivity, it’s that we never realised how fragile things were and how much we take for granted in our day-to-day lives, and that maybe this will change our perspective on life, and food in particular, going forward.

One thing I have been thinking about since this all happened, is how much truth there is behind understanding what it is to be self-sufficient. Our lack of connectivity to where our food comes from has begun to show. How will we feed ourselves if the supermarkets run out? Should we learn how to forage our own food? Should we have got chickens when we could? How do we bake bread if our local shop runs out? I am incredibly fortunate to be spending the lockdown time that corona virus has forced on us in North Wales where I have access to my vegetable garden. There is a lot of stuff flying around on social media about picking up new hobbies, using this time wisely. Although I don’t think that anyone should feel pressure to be following these, if you do want to use this time to start something new, I highly recommend growing your own vegetables. This can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. You can start really small and simple. Whether you’re in lockdown in your flat in London, or you’ve got a bit more outdoor space, you can make it work.

I can’t speak for you, but I know that a lot of people, including myself, are struggling with their mental health at the moment. Gardening, just a little bit every day, has had a hugely positive effect on me. I also wrote in my other article for SGI about my first experience of growing, where I actually cried when I discovered my first sprouting radish last year.

There is something about planting a seed, nourishing it, watching it grow, and finally being able to eat it that is hugely rewarding and satisfying. This might be just the sort of self-care that you need at the moment.

Xanthe Gladstone

Show yourself what you can do and begin to appreciate and understand the journey your vegetables take to get from their seed to your plate. Then, maybe post-Covid, we’ll begin to change our relationships with food and value small farms, independent restaurants and food companies, because they’ll certainly need us more than ever.

Xanthe suggests vegetables to grow which produce their yield quickly. So you won’t have to wait long until your munching on your own radish grown from your sunlit windowsill.

 

Ideas of Veg to Grow
1. Radishes, approximately 25-35 days to harvest.
2. Lettuce, approximately 28-50 days to harvest.
3. Spinach, approx. 40-50 days to harvest.
4. Kale approx. 30-60 days to harvest.

 

Suggestions of Seed Suppliers
1. Vital Seeds
2. Tamar Seeds
3. Real Seeds (lots of demand for seeds at the moment)

What you need
Compost/planting soil.
Seed trays or anything with drainage to plant your seeds into (an old egg box will do) Seeds
Water
Light and warm space in your home or a greenhouse.

Method
1. Source your equipment.
2. Find a warm, light space in your house to keep your seeds.
3. Fill your seed trays with compost/potting soil and pat it down lightly.
4. Make a small hole in the soil for the seeds (I usually make my hole about twice as deep as the seed, don’t go to deep, as you don’t want the seed to have to fight too hard to reach the surface)
5. Fill your holes with between 1-3 seeds, when they grow a little bigger you’ll want to thin the seeds, but at this point you want to give them a good chance to germinate so putting more than one seed in there increases this chance.
6. Cover the holes with a little more compost and gently pat down again.
7. Water your tray with a watering can or a colander so that the water is even and your seeds don’t get displaced.
8. Water your seeds every day and watch them grow!
9. When the plants are about 10-15cm tall, they need to be replanted into a bigger pot, or planted outside into your garden. Consider “hardening” them off before you plant them outside, so they get used to the colder weather.
10. If you are growing something like tomatoes inside (and all plants that produce a flower) remember that they need some time outside so that their flowers can be pollinated by bees. If this doesn’t happen, they won’t produce any fruit so don’t forget this step.
11. Enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Clap for appreciation

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Xanthe Gladstone is Director of Food and Food Sustainability at The Good Life Experience, Glen Dye Cabins and Cottages and custodian of The Walled Garden at Hawarden. Xanthe is our resident organic vegetable grower. She ensures the high standard of all food matters, in terms of organic, local and seasonal across the Good Life Society and works constantly to improve our food sustainability, combatting food waste and increasing transparency.

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