Seat of the pants gardening

Marley Taylor prepares for the trouser test

It’s called the trouser test.  You take your trews off, and plant your tender derriere on to the garden soil.  If it feels chill, you do not plant your even more delicate seedlings.

Honest, I’m not making it up.  It was even reported in the latest Waikato Farmers’ Market newsletter.

And on National Radio over the weekend a chap told folk not to get over-excited about it being Labour Weekend, and the need to get all those plants in.  Wait until it’s warmer, he said.  But he grew vegetables hydroponically, what if he wanted all of us soil growers to fail?

Oh, the dilemma.  We had already bought a heap of baby tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuce and sweetcorn.  Over Labour Weekend, when the sun came out, we tucked all of our vege babies into the garden.  And yes, we’d felt smug.

But I did wonder about the advice to hold off until things warmed up.  Some say wait until the soil temperature is above 10 degrees, because otherwise you’re wasting your time.  And money.

That evening we were dining with friends, including one married couple who are professional botanists.

So, over a particularly fine dinner, I put the question to the botanical pair.

Prof Bruce didn’t hesitate.  “Wait.  If it’s too cold, nothing will take.”  Dr Bev jumped in.  “Do it now.  Then at least you’ve done it. And if it’s a warm season, you’re ahead.”

We explored the pros and cons a little – does it hinder them, and make them weaker, or do they just sit dormant and then romp away.

“If you wait for three weeks or so, they’ll be more vigorous,” said he.

“I plant the tomatoes around here, at Labour Weekend, and we always have lots,” cried she.

So we’re going to put it to the scientific test.  Our first plants were put in on Friday 21 October, at 2.30pm precisely. Give or take.

On Friday 11 November we will plant a second crop, purchased from the same shop and hopefully sold to us by the same, lovely assistant.  And we will  monitor and prod and measure our little plants until a clear winner is announced.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll not be taking me trews off to test the temperature, any time soon!

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