Seedlings on a higher plain

All around the northern hemisphere gardeners are taking over their homes with pots and trays of seedlings, there’s Karen over at Back Road Journal whose beautiful bathroom temporarily housed her tomatoes, Celi at The Kitchens Garden as part of hardening the tomato plants off brings them indoors into the bedroom, while Marie at My Little Corner Of Rhode Island has her basement plant room lit up like Blackpool Illuminations to get a head start on the growing season.

At best you can say we are an imaginative lot and at worst that you need an understanding partner or family.

Me? Every year the upstairs sitting room is taken over, plus every south-facing windowsill in the house is pressed into use. And then as the seeds germinate the shuffle starts, my chilies, peppers and tomatoes have already had an early shuffle around my home town as neighbours took my precious early seedlings in. They have all returned home to roost, are potted on into larger pots and are soaking up the few rays that this weeks weather has given us.

The first new lesson I’ve learnt this growing season is that Tomatoes don’t like to SHARE ! In the rush that was March I lazily potted the tomatoes on into larger pots but literally shoved 2 teeny plants into each pot, MISTAKE. Tomatoes don’t like to share, they get crowded out and start reaching for the skies instead of bulking up. They were sulking. Yes it’s true Tomato plants can sulk. Oh well, they are now all separated out and potted on and they are starting to smile again.

But what is this about seedlings on a higher plain? No not an aircraft but a simple orange cloth. To protect the oak table I cover it every year with a piece of cloth. Not just any cloth mind you, a piece of fabric I picked up another lifetime ago in Sri Lanka.

It was a wonderous holiday travelling by train along the coast from Colombo down to the beaches in the south and later heading up on another train that twisted, turned and chuffed and puffed and climbed up through the mountains and tea estates from Nuwara Eliya  to Kandy. Sitting in the guards van, our legs hanging out of the carriage door, watching the rush of green passing by, waving to kids, snacking on oranges. I honestly felt like a character out of a classic American novel riding the rails. Arriving dusty and dirty to discover a beautiful town set around a lake where at dusk colonies of bats would fly and flutter between the trees. And in the morning visiting the Temple of the Tooth., then wandering around the side streets and stumbling across a tiny shop that sold wares for Buddhist Monks – from bowls and bags to robes. The hues of Saffron Yellow, Burnt Orange and Deep Reds firmly impressed in my memory and now on my table.

So maybe these seedlings are on a higher plain, let’s face it probably not! But every year when I set the room up I’m transported back to my first taste of Asia. Lets hope these seedlings come summer will be robust healthy plants that will transport my taste buds to earthly and heavenly delights.

And to continue the Sri Lankan theme, why not sample a classic Sri Lankan Curry – a beautiful creamy coconut pumpkin curry and bizarrely my most searched for recipe, the most “popular” page. Strange isn’t it what comes and goes around?


  • We take over my teen age daughters bay window as a nursery every year. My mom lives in Northern California in an area where people grow pot and the police stop by each spring to make sure it is veggie starts that the police helicopter is picking up the grow lights. They come in each year and say “Sorry Mrs. Kays but we have to make sure.” She usually takes over a whole room with starts! She could start a grown operation but she just wants yummy tomatoes.

    • So these are police approved tomatoes that your mum grows 🙂 We had to giggle the other day when I went to collect the tomato seedlinngs from a friends house and had to walk them round to ours, we wondered if we would be stopped!

  • Hi Claire, Thank you for the shout out…I appreciate it. I think you may be on to something…seedling on a higher plain. We need all the help we can get growing a garden.

    • You are very welcome Karen! I love it that there are gardeners all over the world at this time of year growing their veggies in their spare rooms. I hope you have a great weekend

  • Ever see the movie Saving Grace? If I had a glass house, the locals would be able to see it from town…
    (If you haven’t seen it, find it. You’ll love it!)
    Thanks for the shout-out. Got a freeze warning for tonight, so I’m glad I haven’t taken anything upstairs yet!

    • You know Marie I think I am the WORLDS WORST at remembering films, totally useless sums it up. But Saving Grace is kind of familiar, so now I think I’ll have a look on You Tube and see if I can get to see this glass house 🙂
      Oh, and it’s a pleasure to give you a shout out, you know I just love your blog 🙂

  • As the greenhouse is too cold I currently have 27 tomato plants in the house! We are all beginning to get a little crowded!

    • It’s a crazy time of year isn’t it! roll on May an dwe can start hardening things off and maybe even get a few more bits and bobs in the ground.
      But I have to say TWENTY SEVEN !! impressive 🙂

  • Did you know that this upcoming week is Buddhas B-day in many Asian countries. What a lovely tribute to have some saffron colored robes.

  • Tomatoes are a bit picky, but we love them so. I was told once that tomatoes only like tomato compost — throw their own leaves on them and they are happy but don’t touch them with anything else. Mine get tea leaves and coffee grounds in their water and don’t seem to mind. They might like to be swathed in orange cloth, too, who knows?

    • You know Sharyn I’ve just read another blog where they were talking about how tomatoes don’t like living alonside cucumbers, something I hadn’t realised before. The more I learn the less I know 🙂 Ours get some manure, but as we have a drought here I can see the ones in pots in the garden will be getting tea and coffee too!

      • My condolences on the drought — hard on gardens and on gardeners who put so many of their hopes in the ground. Hard on the food supply, too. Do you use grey water in your garden at all, along with tea and coffee, pasta water, etc.?

        • Thanks Sharyn, it could be a very tough year – no hosepipes are allowed which will be hard on the allotment as I won’t be able to fill my water tanks up.
          I’m going to start saving grey water for the plants at home, in fact we were talking about it tonight. I just need to be a bit careful with any washing up water as the detergents can be too strong, so I’ll actually need to dilute it further and make sure none of it touches the leaves. I think it’s time to take a LONG hard look at everything, so thanks for the reminder about pasta water!

          • We have been through several long droughts in California, although this year is looking better, thanks to some late rain. If I think of any further tips, I’ll let you know. We use bath water to flush toilets, keeping a bucket by the tub, which keeps potable water from going down the loo.

          • Thanks Sharyn, you obviously have lots of experience on this subject. And you have reminded me that I was going to write a post about it, so I will do that , and maybe I could gather lots of tips from our fellow bloggers!

  • Your plants look good and healthy! What kinds are you growing this year?
    Would love to do a seed exchange with you–did I tell you– (admit) I have 40 different heirlooms this year! Crazy-I know!

    • 40 !!! I think you are the winner 🙂
      Hi Stacey, and thank you – some are looking a bit straggly but hopefully they will fatten up soon. Right what am I growing – Blaby Special, British Green Tiger, Tigerella, Alicante, Golden Grape, Yellow Furry Hog, Tumbling Tom – Yellow, Blue OSU, Black Cherry, Fablonelistnyj, and Green Doctor. The list for what I’m not growing is a LOT longer, I have loads of seeds from swaps, some lovely old European varieties, some of which I’ve yet to try. And I’d love to swap with you, that would be great fun. I’ll see what does well for me this year, and do my usual seed saving rounds, and you’d be very welcome to any you fancy. I’ll put a diary note to remind me to email you with a list of what I have so you can choose whatever you fancy. Claire

  • It is something, going from blog to blog, seeing how everyone’s seedlings are doing. Considering how little you’ve been home, your future garden is doing spectacularly well!

    • I think a LOT of credit is due to my lovely friends who acted as surrogate mums for my seedlings. Let’s hope I don’t manage to kill them all off after all their hard work 🙂

  • Really nice curry, Claire! I just bought some fresh spices, but am not stocked up on fenugreek seeds! That’s a new taste for me…I’ll get on it, though 🙂 I agree with you that it’s so delightful following the planting and growing season around the world! Tomorrow is going to be a warm spring day and I plan to get outdoors and keep on with my pre-season readiness. And it, too, will involve a little transplanting. I have a warm outdoor space, and I don’t know if I’d be as eager and involved if I had to bring everything indoors. I do admire your dedication! Debra

    • Oh I’m pleased you liked the recipe, it’s a favourite of mine – lots of lovely flavours and uses pumpkins 🙂 I would just go ahead and make the curry without the fenugreek, it is still delicious. And I’ve been wracking my brain to think of a way to describe the flavour and I honestly can’t! It’s sour and maybe a little bit bitter – distinct is the best I can come up with at the moment !
      I hope you had a great weekend and got out into the garden – a bit of quiet gentle time. And to be honest if you want to garden in the UK then it’s pretty much accepted you have to mess about a LOT with transplanting and hardening off. Hopefully the results will be more than worth the effort

  • Something’s eating the seed leaves off my baby marigolds. I might have to reseed those. Might also germinate those indoors rather than the greenhouse, particularly if there’s some munchers in there having a feast. Everything else in the greenhouse is growing well, and the cucumber seedlings are looking good, too. Snails are chewing at my hostas though. Grrrrrr.

    • Grrrrr to snail chomping! This rain seems to have brought them all out. Do you use Nematodes at all? I’ve dones so in the past in the garden and it does seem to help with the small slugs. What I really need is a hedgehog or some chickens to eat the slugs and snails though! And you have reminded me I need to sow some marigolds, thank you 🙂

  • I can feel your holiday coming to life by the way you describe it – I have many a Sri Lankan friends but they have never seen it with such exquisite earthy beautifulness 🙂
    I hope your exotic seedlings sprout up and high and with them, you are able to grow a little bit of Sri Lanka in your home 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

    • Thanks Choc Chip 🙂 Sri Lanka is such a beautiful country to visit, the people are so lovely and welcoming. I’ve worked with a few Sri Lankans and every time it has been a pleasure 🙂 It was lovely for me to write a bit about that holiday, it really was special to me. Thanks again, Claire

  • Love the tomato pics and what lucky seedlings they are to have such beautiful surroundings! I love the smell of tomato foliage-even the seedlings have that distinctive scent, ummmm.

    • I have to confess that as a kid I didn’t like the smell of tomatoes or their foliage. It just didn’t appeal to me at all ! But I’m a happy convert now, and brushing and touching the leaves gives such a wonderful scent of summer

  • Don’t you love it.. Having a house full of GREEN after all the grey and beige of the winter These are gorgeous shots of the little pepper seedlings getting a touch of light! c

    • I’m ADORING it Celi, particularly after all that snowy white. And thanks for the thumbs up on the pics, the light here has been either stunningly bright blue beautiful or miserable grey. It makes taking photos more of a challenge….

  • I need another place, perhaps a higher plain, for seedlings as the spot in front of the French doors is now the domain of dirt scratching pussycats. Yours look lovely and healthy, and I love the color of your linens…my favorite color.

    • Ah, the joys of cats!! They seem to have some sort of homing instinct when it comes to freshly tilled soil
      and a thank you for the thumbs up on the orange fabric, I used it for years as a throw/cover for a grotty armchair, but it’s now a bit sunbleached so does perfectly for protecting my table.

  • Seedling on a higher plain….I like that. My efforts are still not well rewarded, but I’m learning bit by bit thanks to tips from those of you who are more successful.

    • Hi Lulu, I think our seedlings need all the luck and prayers – alongside warmth, light and water that they can get! And thank you for your kind words, feedback means a lot to me and I honestly believe in sharing and swapping – that way we all get to learn, and hopefully have a few laughs along the way 🙂

  • How beautiful things you are doing dear Claire, I love your sharing… Seedling on a higher plain what a nice expression… You are amazing and also I loved the colours especially these robes… Everything seems so exciting… Good Luck for your plants… Thank you, with my love, nia

    • Dear Nia, thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I will have to find the other robes and take some photos as when they are all together they look grogeous. I hope you have a great week !

  • My seedlings are on a higher plain (Colorado), but they are only about one inch tall. Sigh.

    • He, he, he I’m guessing you are at a fairly high altitude there! I always think nature has an amazing ability to play catch up, and I’m sure your seedlings will be romping away soon. Here in the UK I just have to HOPE for a good summer that will ripen my tomatoes, and not a damp cool summer that will leave my tomato plants sulking!

    • Hi Tanya, and thank you, the orange cloth is a fabulous colour – strong and bright and vibrant. Let’s hope it passes on some of that energy to the seedlings 🙂

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