We’re watching the weather, watching the thermometer, watching for movement on neighbours’ plots. Waiting, waiting for the frost to clear, the sun to appear and for spring to fling open her arms. But when? Should I try my luck now or play the waiting game?
I scan the gardening blogs daily, hear Twitter whispering gently into my ear as it snitches on a gardener up north who has already sown her carrots. Damn that tweeting minx, she knows she’ll get a reaction from me. And she’s right. My soul is stirred, an eagerness swells up inside of me to return the tweet with a monstrous claim that my carrots are already sown, grown, harvested and I’m currently swigging down the finest Carrot Soup this side of Hadrian’s Wall. My fabricated tweet has bite. ‘Touché!’ I hear the bloggers cry, ‘There’s a lad that can sow with the best of them. Give him a medal, Titchmarsh!’ But then doubt takes over. ‘Will I now have to upload a photo to prove my tale or will I be found out? Can I fake it? Cheat it? Or forgo the photographic evidence and let envious thoughts swell in my fellow gardeners?’
I look at my fellow bloggers as we line up on our starting blocks waiting for the green flag to give us the official nod and set us free. But some have already scuttled into the shadows trying not to draw attention to themselves as they make for their heated propagators and seed compost. These are gardeners who are a law unto themselves and shouldn’t be trifled with, for they practice their dark arts under the cover of cloche and fleece.
But for the rest of us, how long can we wait? It’s a drug and we need our fix. ‘I need to sow something, anything!’ I make a dash for the stuffed seed tin and throw open the lid, pulling out those seductive seed packets with ooohs and aahhs. Once I’ve had my fix, normal life can resume. I check my breathing, mop the brow, close the tin and walk away. (Hmm… maybe just one more cheeky caress of the runner bean packet.)
The weather is a temperamental old dear, changing her mood at the flip of a coin and destroying whatever plans you might have for your empire. But as regular as clockwork at this time of year, we always return to the ultimate question.. ‘Should I start sowing now?’