I love growing things from seed. I particularly love starting things off in the autumn, just as everything else is dying back. But I have a problem. My garden is only 10m x 10m, and the trees, bamboo and evergreen shrubs I planted to screen us from the neighbours take up a largish chunk of the space at the back. Admittedly this is a north facing border, so not a home for the many sun-lovers I keep falling in love with. The fact remains that, with the best will in the world, I have very little space for more plants.


But I love seeing lots of pots of little seedlings growing away. And I keep falling in love with new plants. Garden blogging doesn’t help. I keep meeting new plants that I want to grow. A recent post by James Alexander Sinclair gave a list of plants for a new garden he is working on. There were quite a few I didn’t recognise, so I started looking them up. And falling in love. And then there are all the Aster pictures I have been admiring recently. Not to mention Patient Gardener’s fruit border project – I want one too. In my head, I create beautiful planting combinations. I work out where in the garden they would work. And then I look out of the window and realise that the garden in my head is at least three times the size of the one sat outside.

seedlings in modules

In an effort to only grow what I know I can use I have been sowing seed in small modules. Which is great, but when e.g. only two of the six Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’ germinated, I panicked, and sowed more. Even though I only have room for one. But what happens if they don’t all survive? I have to have spares… So where I know I want 3 or 5 of something, I (attempt to) sow thinly in quarter seed trays. I was really quite proud of myself that I only pricked out enough of the various Aquelegias and the Ammi majus to fill the spaces and pots I knew I had – plus a few over in case of accidents, and for pressies.

too many to prick out

Pride come before a fall, and I have yet to “get around” to chucking out the excess (above) – they all look so happy and healthy, I feel mean even thinking about not growing them on. I shall have to wait until they start dying and therefore threaten the health of their luckier brethren. You really would think I’d know better by now, it was only last week that I managed to offload half a dozen of the excess Carex flagilliefera I grew this year.

Now I’m just off to check out the Special Plants Nursery web site, as they had a rather wonderful aquelegia (Aquilegia skinneri ‘Tequila Sunrise’) that I’m sure I could find room for somewhere. Its only because it turns out to be a mere 23 miles from here, and I believe in supporting local businesses, honest! (And by the way, its existence is another thing I only found out about through reading gardening blogs…)

4 thoughts on “How much is enough?

  1. I know the problem. My garden is about the same size as yours by the sound of it, so I have the same battle against space (lack of it). I always sow more seeds than I ought to need, to cover for any pest damage, so I usually end upp with lots of seedlings that I have to find homes for. Many of them end up in the compost bin, so even then they are not totally wasted.

    1. A good reminder that ending up on the compost bin is not the same as ending up in the black bin…

  2. I think that it’s a case of much wants more which afflicts all gardeners :) I got an allotment to compensate for the fact that the garden is shady so I now have somewhere for sun lovers. Looking back on it a rather drastic step to take. Janet, I have been wondering whether you are a member of Blotanical. I can’t see a link on your side bar – it’s a great horticultural blog community and I am sure that a lot of folk there would enjoy your blog. You can find details at

    1. Hi Anna. I’m on the waiting list for an allotment, though I think sharing one would be a better idea… I am also toying with the idea of using Landshare to find somewhere to grow more stuff, particularly edibles, but I’m often not able to drive so maybe not :-( Thank you for the pointer to Blotanical – I’ll check it out!

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