After a busy week and limited gardening over the last month due to torrential rain and the fact it has been flipping cold I finally managed, this weekend, to spend some time in my garden and at the allotment. Much of the work at this time of year seems to revolve around my packed window sills and the 2 cold frames, shunting plants about trying to maximise growing conditions and hardening plants off, so it feels good to get planting and get my hands on some soil.
This spring has been in complete contrast to last year, when, after a warm April I had plants bursting out of pots and with no more space to pot them on and seeds didn’t germinate at the allotment because it was so dry. The cold temperatures recently have meant little plant growth and seeds haven’t germinated this time because it hasn’t been warm enough. My biggest concern though is whether, with a holiday coming up in June, some plants will be ready to plant out. Half hardies such as rudbeckia and verbena rigida have struggled and are little more than 5cm tall with only a few true leaves. Last year they were about 20cm tall and good substantial plants. Hopefully the warm weather that has been forecast for this week will encourage them to put on some growth, I really don’t want to have to take any plants on holiday this time!
At the allotment my Charlotte potatoes are shooting up and the shallots are looking good despite all the rain (they are not meant to like it too wet). The broad beans and peas have both recovered after their mauling by weevils, although the cold weather looks like it has affected pollination of the broad beans as some of the flowers so far haven’t set.
Quite a few flower seeds sown directly have refused to germinate so I’ve resorted to sowing in seed trays at home. It’s always a frantic time as I start to panic and think I won’t have enough to fill the plot, particularly with my cutting patch. I end up rummaging through my seed tin and digging out seeds and sowing more. Ammi visnaga, for instance, has proved disappointing in the germination stakes, not one plant out of 3 batches sown so far. In desperation for something that will create that light airy feel to my arrangements I found a packet of gypsophila and sowed those.
Some Russian red kale plants went in and I got the chance to use one of my Malvern purchases, metal hoops from a company called Plant Belles, to create some protection from cabbage white butterflies. The hoops simply have loops in them so that you can push through bamboo canes and by placing hoops at intervals along your bed you can create a tunnel over which you can drape fleece, environmesh or clear plastic, depending on your requirements.
I also planted out a patch of bupleurum, which is a bit like euphorbia but without the milky sap. It will, hopefully, provide some foliage for my flower arrangements, that’s if the slugs don’t get to it first like they did 2 years ago.
It’s looking like it’s going to be a good year for fruit with my blackcurrants, gooseberries and blueberries covered in small fruit. I’m particularly looking forward to sampling tayberries. Last year was the tayberry’s first year and we only had one fruit from it which we halved and ate, to be honest it was such a small piece of berry that it was hard to get a real taste sensation. However, this year looks much more promising with the canes covered in flowers, all about to open.
The biennial flowers I sowed last summer to provide some early colour are starting to bloom and my patch of sweet williams are poised. So all in all, things are looking promising and with predicted warm weather it’ll hopefully feel more like May this week than November.