APRIL 2010


April 30th.  Transplanted and thinned a lot of salad seeds, and shifted the kale which has gone to seed. Also renewed some spinach. Some pathetic little tomato plants arrived (Marshalls) again… could have got bigger, better and cheaper down at Homebase this morning or the garden centres. It will take a lot to convince me that plug plants for vegetables are worth it.  Consequently, I sowed 3 squash plants as I don’t hold out much hope that the ones I’ve ordered will be any better than the tomatoes and I need to get stuff growing.  The April vegetables plants due from Suttons haven’t arrived yet (presumably same thing with late growing conditions.

April 26th.   Some sunshine at last. Transplanted a load of primroses into the beds round the current bush and some borage round the Gingko.  Kale is beginning to go to seed.  Weather is warm and sunny.

April 24th. Brassicas seem happy enough in the polytunnel, which is starting to look like things are happening.  So I turned my efforts outside. Planted the early potatoes and HOPE that the weather doesn’t take a turn for the worse. But if I don’t plant them this weekend they won’t BE early potatoes cause it’ll be well into July before we ever get to eat them.  Hopefully we’ll get enough to eat until  the maincrop is ready in late September/ early October, but I’m not planting the maincrop till next week at least.  Spent most of the day weeding outside – I’ve finally understood that flowers are what you do when you’re trying NOT to plant too many vegetables all at one time.  Should soon have a nice place for the borage in the bed round the Gingko tree and am transplanting excess primroses from the gravel path into beds round the magnolia and current bushes (though in the end I want lilies round the magnolia) Still faffing about where to transplant the errant yellow daffs. I don’t want them in the Chinese garden (only white daffs need apply and even then….) 

In veg land, I’m on my 3rd attempt at the yin yang beans though everything else is doing okay apart from I don’t think some of the sunflowers or the second sowing of sweet peas are ever going to germinate. But maybe I still need to learn patience.  Oh, and the first sign of garlic and onion coming up which is amazing given that the protective wigwams HAVEN’T done their job and are in the process of being re-constructed as cages.

April 20th.  So apart from the ridiculous weather, how are things in the polytunnel? Warmer than anywhere else that’s for sure. However this appears not to be enough for the Yin Yang Beans.  As I understand it these are a varient of French Bean and they look very pretty in their bean form. HOWEVER they are becoming number one high maintenance vegetable this year. I’ve already lost 3 to putting too cold water on them, then another 3 for who knows what reason, too cold, too dry… overnight they just shrivelled up and died. Add to the French bean that got chomped by what I can only assume to be a mouse, and even the fact that I’ve taken pity on the beans and am raising them in the polytunnel doesn’t seem to be enough for them.  Okay, the borlotti are doing okay and the mange tout and asparagus peas appear to be thriving, but them beans……

Other hot news today… got a response from Marshalls regarding the non appearance of my early Brassica’s. They obviously hadn’t read my email where I told them I’d ordered from Suttons when I didn’t receive them… instead they somewhat tersely informed me that the growing season was weeks behind so I’d get them some time. This means that unless Suttons deliver all their stuff late (it’s due in the next week or so) in a couple of weeks I’m going to be DROWNING in Brassicas and the like. Planting space will be at a premium and I will HAVE to dig over the proposed fruit patch. If I start planting in borders it won’t be for “prettiness” but for SPACE considerations.  However I don’t fancy the chances of anything planted outside a fence. Rabbits. 

Lots of nice little lettuces coming up in the polytunnel (perhaps I shouldn’t post  this till after this horrific spell of weather as everything may kick up its heels today) and courgettes on the go. The winter kale is beginning to  run to seed but still edible and the spinach is fighting its way past nettles (how have I got NETTLES in the polytunnel?)  I’m hoping that by the time the kale is over the salad crop will be able to  replace it.  If it ever stops snowing  today I’ll go out and look at how things are doing. For now, staying inside is the only sensible option.

April 15th.  Everything is late this year. Well, at the end of March this was the view from the front door Which did not really encourage gardening activities.

However, since then we’ve had 3 or 4 days of temperatures at 19C and then it’s gone back to cold and windy.  I’m glad I didn’t plant out my potatoes.  In fact all activity has been severely limited for the last wee while while we sort out “escaping dog syndrome”.  Last weekend we had the roof fixed and worked some on the Chinese garden construction which now looks like this

And this weekend we’ll have to work on hanging the gate. Once that’s achieved I should be able to spend more quality time in the polytunnel without having to stop and retrieve Dude the Dog every five minutes from him play with the “barking rats”.

However, it’s all probably a good thing because I always sow and plant way too much this time of year and so my activity in that direction is being curtailed.  For the first time I thought I’d try buying plug plants instead of growing everything by hand but for some reason the early brassica pack never turned up.  I have more due end April but until then I’ve been sowing peas and beans as well as lettuce crop, including some beets for the leaves and some chinese varieties. Also sweet peas, nastursuims, borage (which was a fantastic discovery last year for edible flowers and bee attraction as well as glorious garden colour) and sunflowers. Also I couldn’t resist sowing 3 courgettes. Outside I’ve planted a load of onions and garlic though I wonder if it isn’t a bit too soon. They are residing under netted bamboo wigwams ( I don’t have a picture of them yet) and hopefully will be safe from rabbits and dogs!

The monthly update around the garden areas is:  Chinese Garden – structures looking good and bamboos recovering from the winter now I’m feeding them “Nettle juice” again.  Looking after Dude at the weekend meant I got some bed weeding done (the only thing I could do while keeping an eye on him) and I must move more primroses to make things look a bit better. I’m hopeful (but it may be optimism) for the ginko, maple and magnolia to make a recovery but it’s fingers crossed really.   In “Jakes” orchard it seems like all but 3 of the trees have taken. I think it’s the two cherries and a pear that haven’t.  If so, we’ll replace them with better, more advanced specimens later in the year. All the others have new growth, though in varying degrees.  The raised beds have had their backbreaking compost delivery and are ready for potatoes and brassicas/legumes when the plug plants come (I’m going to put half in the polytunnel and half outside and compare the results).  Around the garden in general the daffodils are finally out, including a good showing of white daffodils, which didn’t seem to be coming through initially. I far prefer them to the yellow ones, but with the primroses everywhere it’s a good load of colour. The snowdrops have just gone away. The crocuses were killed by the last snow.  It looks like the strawberries may have survived in the big pot, but the rhubarb has been jumped on by Dude and I think I need to get more (and protect them) to get any edible rhubarb this summer.

The polytunnel looks like this at the moment  which may look a bit anarchic but there is method in the madness – seedlings are sitting there waiting for their day in the sun.

Finally, I transplanted a load of bulbs around the rowan tree under which we’d scattered my mum’s ashes, so that hopefully in the future there will be flowers throughout the season round the tree.


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