April 2021

26th April - Been taking a break as life all got a bit much, plus time away last week. Thank you to all those who asked if I am OK, it was much appreciated. One enquiry came from a photo poster creator in Sweden, which I found a little unusual, as most readers are gardeners or veg growers, but it takes all sorts I guess

I am not going to run with Harvest Monday photos this week (although I shall be back with it next week, all being well) as there have been no "firsts", but I should realy have photographed the Purple Sprouting Broccoli from last week, as it was the best I have ever grown, like a series of small deep purple cauliflowers, and totally delicious. A kilo and a half is now frozen away to enjoy as the year goes on

Instead, I'll give you a quick run down of where things are up to now, bulging greenhouse and all!

Out On The Plots Recently:

With no rain for weeks, watering has become a huge job, as even with several beds on #146 given over to permanent planting, everything still needs water, and not just a sprinkle now and again, but a regular good old soak!

Seedlings in particular need plenty of water. As you can see, the early sowings of Carrots and Parsnips are growing on nicely now. They are fiddly to weed, and I do this by hand, which is really worth the extra time as it gives the little plants more space and, of course, water is not being used by weeds. I have added the later sowings of both to stagger cropping a bit, with Red Chanteray and Autumn King Carrots and a sowing of Sabre Parsnips, utilising some free seeds. The Nigella sativa seeds are at last starting to grow... they have taken ages and I was beginning to wonder if they were perhaps not viable. This is the first time I have grown these Kalonji, so pleased that I may have a crop in the end after all

The cloches used to cover the early sowings have been taken off, and the fine netting to keep out Carrot Fly put right over the extended bed

Also sown directly and already germinated are Cylindra Beetroot, Olivia Kholrabi and Amazon Spinach, and all the Potatoes planted in mid March are poking growth up now above the soil surface. I am quite pleased they have taken so long, as the bright clear skies during the day, meant clear skies and night... and hard frosts! Saved their initial growth being damaged, or me having to constantly be trying to protect them. I shall earth them up tomorrow, and hope they don't decide to poke sideway through the mounds! (Tonight is forecast frost free here)

The Peas and Mangetout plants set out have been slow to start into growth due to this wide fluctuation in temperature, but hopefully will now settle down and start to climb their suppotrs

Onions, Shallots and Garlic, both Autumn planted and Spring planted sets, are growing well. I am really glad to have covered the beds, mainly against attack from Allium Moth and Onion Fly, but also to prvent the attentions of a much larger flying pest, which often hangs out on my plots, sitting enjoying the sunshine! Sometimes they are difficult to spot...

And even when I chase them off, they sneak back in again!

Yes, cheeky Pheasants, who love neatly snipping off the tops of Onions and Garlic with their scissor-action beaks, and also pecking up and seeds they can find unprotected too. We have ven more than usual, I am guessing because the usual shooting season did not take place last Autumn, and in the Winter they found plenty of food around deserted plots. Beautiful birds to look at, but not to share my growing spaces with thank you!

New season Cauliflower and Calabrese are planted out, safely covered from White Butterflies and PIgeons, and the additional shade from the netting has helped protect them from the bright sunshine unit their roots are settld in and taking up water properly. This picture was taken last week and they are alreaday twice this size

I also planted out the Nine Star Perennial Cauliflower plants in their permanent bed, alongside the Daubenton's Kale and some Wild Strawberry plants I was given. The very first night, voles chewed off all the leaves and carried them away... HUH!  I hope they are able to grow new leaves, now that the culprits have met their end. I shall be keeping a close eye on them, because if no new growth begins, I shall be sowing more, as this is something I am really keen to grow

There are also other crops sown directly.. and protected by sticks... that are not yet up: Paris Silverskin Onions, Dill and Calendula, as well as some mixed Annual flowers that I sowed amongst the herbs.

There are lots of flowers to enjoy now, including the Tulips I managed to keep squirrels from eating in the Winter, and of course the Apple blossom is starting to show its pretty pink petals

And the first generation of solitary bees is out and about now: Red Mason Bees. You have to look hard to see them as they were moving qo quickly I couldn't keep them in focus! 

The box started to fall to pieces in the Winter, so I have tried to rescue it with some odd bits and pieces, especially as lots of the tubes were sealed over and had overwintering bee pupae in them

In The Polytunnels Now:

Most of the overwintered crops are coming to the end, so the remains of Mustard Greens, Perpetual Spinach, Beetroot leaves, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Tenderstem Broccoli, Purslane, Winter Radishes and Winter Onion green will all be being added to the compost bins very soon, clearing space for Summer crops

The earliest sowings of Radishes, Carrot, Boltardy Beetroot, Turnips, Rocket and Salad leaves are all up, and the Peas and Mangetout are far ahead of the ones outside, as are the Broad Beans, which are developing pods on some plants now. The four Rocket Potatoes have plenty of top growth, although I have kept thm well earthed up, as night time temperatures have been consistently sub zero recently, Hopefully I shall have some nice tubers to harvest in late May or early June

The soil will need a good feed of compost from the bins before being replanted, so I shall be starting to clear away spent crops for this during the next couple of weeks


At Home During the Past Weeks:

I thought the greenhouse was full before, but in reality more has been squeezed in: The Tomatoes, Tomatillos,Cucumbers and Aubergines have all been potted on, Chillies, Sweet Peppers and Okra, having had a while without growing, have started increasing in size, enjoying the extra feed no doubt, and flower plants have taken up residence too: Pelargoniums, Bizzie Lizzies and  Lobelia

More seeds have been sown: lots of beans (Runner, Helda, Climbing French, Dwarf French, Borlotti, Spagna Blanca etc, as well  as Sweetcorn, Cosmos, Sunflowers and French Marigolds

The Outdoor Cucumbers, which you can see in the header photo, germinated in three days, and were moved to the greenhouse yesterday. This morning there are Courgettes and Winter Squashes showing their heads too, which is speedy... good!

The Winter Brassicas, spare Summer cabbages, maincrop Leeks, Orange Beetoot and Spring Onions in modules are all now in the little plastic house out in the garden

The garden is looking lovely, filled with fruit blossom in the little orchard at the end, and although a lot of the Camellia blossoms were browned a bit by the frosts, enough are not to give a colourful display

And the new leaves of the Acers are a beautiful colour, this red one contrasting very well with the white flowers of Bridal Veil


Some of the prettiest though are the smallest, with these Cowslips and Labrador Violas growing in  cracks in the paving of the rear patio. It isn't easy to uproot them and plant somewhere else, so I am just enjoying them where they have chosen to grow!

My jobs list for the next three or four weeks involves preparing beds out on the plots for Winter Squashes and Winter Brassicas , as well as Tomatoes, Sweetcorn and Beans, barrowing compost t feed the soil and organising various means of sheltering any plants that might suffer from adverse weather once it is time to plant them out. I remember this posed a real challenge last year and the Squash plants in particular really suffered, so I aim to be better prepared this time around

I hope you are all well, and enjoying the season so far. I shall try to be back next Monday, when normal service will resume


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 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can