So much of our lives for the next year, and beyond, is held within this simple, unassuming cardboard box.
It's name is Bertie.
Bertie originally started its travels on the Isle of Arran, coming to London then spending some time in France, before returning to London. A quick visit to Wales then ensued, though for much of last year Bertie was just happy to sit at home... quiet... unpretentious... still. And we're delighted that this was the case, as Bertie holds so many of our growing hopes and dreams.
It is within the packets... within the monthly sections... within Bertie that much of our growing year is held. The seeds in each packet, and each monthly section, will barely ever see the light of day. As they sit in the darkness of their packaging they're really just waiting for the dappled darkness of soil... or compost... and moisture... and sunlight. You see, it's these seeds that will germinate and grow and produce food for our table. Some will need to burst into flower before giving up their taste-filled offerings; others will just be resplendent in their luscious, leafy green goodness; the rest we'll know little about until they're pulled from the ground and their lengthy tap root or bulbous tubers are revealed to the sun or rain drenched world.
Bertie is a spit of a thing and doesn't really weigh much, though this meek little box carries the full weight of bountiful growing seasons and harvests... harvests that we hope will sustain and nourish.
We certainly have much to thank Bertie for, and can only hope that our growing hopes and dreams for this year are fulfilled... weather and pests permitting!
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 24
It was a job that I'd been putting off for quite some time. Mainly because I'd never done this with seed so small and light, though in reality time had just slipped by in October to who knows where!
I'd harvested our Portuguese Cabbage seeds at least six weeks ago, and they had been in our polytunnel since. With the days drawing in, and nights getting colder and damper, our polytunnel wasn't the best place for these seeds now. If we'd left them here they would surely have germinated; several months too soon and at completely the wrong time of year! Brassica seeds are a pretty hardy bunch and a little cold is easily shrugged off!!
It was time to bring home all the brittle, sharp edged seed pods and their many thousands of seeds in a single brown paper bag. I left the bag and its contents to dry out for a further day in the warm utility room, and then it was time to do some winnowing.
It's an ancient craft, and having tried it myself with these gloriously dark brown and minuscule seeds I think the word craft is used wisely! Winnowing is basically separating husks from seeds, using an air current to literally 'separate the wheat from the chaff'... or in my case the seeds from the seeds' pods using some judicious pouted blowing.
It took some time, and then a little more time, and then a little bit more time again. The seeds chose to take flight like tiny cannonballs as I blew, speckling the kitchen surfaces with their minute grains of destruction... Richard would not be a happy bunny!! I decided it was time to give in and get the tweezers out; removing the remnants of virtually invisible stalks and broken seed pods by hand.
Admittedly I wasn't winnowing the whole day through, though it took much longer than I'd imagined when I started!
As I now drink my nicely brewed English Breakfast tea and look down on the smile in the seeds traced out by a finger, I too have a smile on my own face... and a new found respect for this winnowing craft. Yes, it was a bit of a chore though it also brought a semblance of purpose, fun and calm.
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 10
...long term partners.