THE LIFE OF A SEED
You have in your drawer since Candlemas day,
All the seed packets you daren’t throw away,
Seed catalogue cometh as year doth it end,
But look in your drawer before money you spend.
Throw out ye parsnip, ‘tis no good next year,
And scorzonera if there’s any there,
For these have a a life that is gone with ye wynde,
Unlike all ye seeds of ye seeds of the cabbagy kind.
Broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, cabbage and kale,
Live long like a farmer who knoweth good ale;
Three years for certain, maybe four or five,
To sow in their seasons they stay in ye drawer.
Kohl-rabi lasts with them and so does pel-tsai,
The winter cos lettuce to sow in July,
But short is the life of ye turnips and Swedes,
Sow next year only, enough for your needs.
Mustard and cress for when salads come round,
Sows for three seasons so buy half a pound,
Radish lasts four years, both round ones and long,
Sown thinly and often they’re never too strong.
Last year’s left lettuce sows three summers more,
And beetroot and spinach-beet easily four,
But ordinary spinach, both prickly and round,
Hath one summer left before gaps waste ye ground.
Leeks sow three Aprils and one has gone past,
And this is as long as ye carrot will last,
Onion seed keeps till four years have flown by,
But sets are so easy and dodge onion fly.
Store marrows and cucumbers, best when they’re old,
Full seven summers’ sowings a packet can hold,
Six hath ye celery that needs frost to taste,
So hath celeriac before it goes to waste.
Broad beans, French ones, runners, sown in May,
Each hath a sowing left before you throw away,
And short peas, tall peas, fast ones and slow,
Parsley and salsify have one more spring to sow.
Then fillen your form that your seedsman doth send,
For novelties plenty, there’s money to spend,
Good seed and good horses are worth the expense,
So pay them you poindies as I paid my pence.
By Lawrence D. Hills 1963 Founder of Henry Doubleday Research Association (organic movement, 1954)
From “Grow your own vegetables” 1971
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