Its been 10 days since my last post and the garden and allotment are really bursting into spring. The weather is still very variable (with a frost last night and heavy rain yesterday) but the sun is bright and warm.
So I’ve been getting on with making sure everything is ready. I’ve been to the allotment and the beds are now mainly ready for planting. (I say mainly because the Swiss Chard and Purple Sprouting Broccoli are still in place providing a few crops). However, unlike last week when I raved about how beautiful the soil was, this week the ground has dried out leaving large, rock-hard mums which the Mantis Tiller struggled to do anything with. Nonetheless, a heavy hand with the back of a fork broke the worst of the lumps and the tiller managed to convert it into a tilth of some sort (not fine, but fine enough).
I planted the last potatoes (Shetland Black, Belle de Fontenay and Ratte) as a choice of different potatoes to go with the more ordinary Red Duke of York. I don’t (and won’t) plant main crop because they can be bought easily and the allotment has a lot of blight which means that we have to watch everything too closely. I also planted the last of the new strawberries, the first of the cabbages and some broadbeans.
In the greenhouse I sowed beetroot and swiss chard in plugs, some more broadbeans and dwarf french beans in 7cm pots, potted up the tomatoes (and sowed the outdoor tomatoes which are supposed to be blight resistant), and chitted then sowed sweetcorn into plugs. I always chit sweetcorn, putting them on damp paper in a warm place because that way you know which ones are going to germinate. It only takes a couple of days for the roots to show and then I pop them into 7cm pots of compost in the greenhouse to germinate properly and grow on ready to be planted at the beginning of June. Finally I sowed courgettes, squashes, more dwarf french beans and cucumbers (for the greenhouse). I sowed some bush courgettes and I’m going to try growing them in the polytunnel (along with Dwarf French Beans) and squashes.
The lettuces are doing well, I sowed them into plugs and have potted up the plugs into 7cm pots, ready to go to the allotment in a couple of weeks. I’m really pleased that I managed to save some Black Seeded Simpson seed last year and that is very vigorous, germinating well, so I’ll do it again this year.
As well as sowing the beetroot in plugs, I also sowed some directly into the soil at the allotment. I’m never keen to sow direct at the allotment because the soil forms a hard crust very easily and nothing can break through but I’ve found that by making a drill, filling it with compost and sowing into that, things are better. Anyway, I’ve got the beetroot in plugs if they don’t work. I also sowed some radishes, mainly to mark the place where I’m going to grow swiss chard because that will be planted from pots much later in the year.
I’ve put the peas out to harden off and will plant them at the allotment during the next week or so.
We’re eating Swiss Chard, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Lettuce (from the polytunnel) and Rhubarb but I think the broccoli is just about over (which is good because I can then finish preparing the bed to plant the courgettes and squashes.
In the next week or so, I expect to sow more peas (mangetout and podded peas) but the mangetout I will probably grow at home so that they can be picked frequently.
In terms of wildlife, the frogspawn has hatched so we’ve got tadpoles in the pond, there’s strings of toadspawn in the pond waiting to hatch and I saw my first orange-tip butterfly today. The long tailed tits are dashing about (I suspect there’s a nest in the hedge) as are the blackbirds, crows (with a nest in the oak tree), starlings, bluest, great tits and coal tits. The blue tits seem to have given up on the bird box (or at least I haven’t seen them) but lots of birds liked it when I turned over the compost heap (which was full of worms – a good sign).
That’s it, another week over