Haven’t written anything for a few days, been too busy in the greenhouse and allotment because the weather has at last turned for the better.
At the allotment, I’ve managed to (more or less) finish the paths and get the beds all dug over ready for planting. The ground is warming up (so the weeds are beginning to grow). I spent a merry couple of hours turning one of the beds into a reasonably fine tilth and sowing rows of: carrots; parsnip; turnip; beetroot; and swiss chard, before getting down to preparing the ground for the potatoes. This year I have gone for all Sarpo varieties (bought from Thompson & Morgan) with the hope that this will reduce the possibility of potato blight. Last year all my main crop fell foul to the scourge so I had to cut the tops off before they were really ready and as a result the crop was much reduced. Sarpo potatoes are bred to be blight resistant (not blight immune but resistant to most of the common varieties) and so (hopefully) we will get a decent crop this year. I’ve grown them before and they are a problem to cook because most varieties seem to break up when you boil them but we found that the solution was to microwave them with a small amount of water or to bake them because they seem to make good baked potatoes.
I’ve also tried something else with the seeds this year. Last year, whilst parsnips did relatively well, the carrots failed completely. So this year, I’ve decided that all seeds will be sown in compost to try and prevent the clay soil forming a cap over the top of the row of seeds killing germination – we’ll see how it goes.
We’re now on to our frozen garlic from last year. Usually by now all our garlic is sprouting and no use to eat. However, last year we froze a load of whole cloves so that we could use them. I’m told that freezing garlic removes all the beneficial compounds but I don’t use garlic for the beneficial compounds, I use them for their taste and they seem to taste OK so it saves having to buy garlic from the supermarket.
As regards the frogs, they have at last arrived and laid spawn in the pond. Looking back through my photographs, this is a month later than most previous years. My memory told me that we normally get frogspawn between the 16th and 20th March this year its the 16th April. One interesting side effect is that the crows must be in the process of nesting because they are taking a bonanza from our pond. Our pond has shallow edges so the crows are able to get the frogs and we’ve seen a number of crows eating frogs at the pond and flying away with them. So we’ve put the net back over the pond to stop the large birds. Small birds (tits, etc.) can easily get to the pond around the side but the larger birds are prevented.
Other evidence of how late spring is is in the photographs at the top of this entry. This is the eating apple in our garden (I think its a Discovery but I can’t remember), however, the two photographs are the same tree on the same day in April two years apart. This year the blossom is yet to show but in 2011, the tree was in full flower by now. Its a good job it isn’t because there aren’t many insects about yet.
The late spring is also affecting our tomatoes, I think we are about 4 weeks later than last year, the plants look very similar to what they were in late March last year. However, considering that last year was the worst year for tomatoes for several years, this may not be a bad thing.