May 2021

3rd May - This is the coldest May Bank Holiday EVER, and it has followed the coldest April for nearly 60 years, with a frost very single night ...ouch! No wonder things seem a little later to get going this year, also impacted by several weeks without any rain, and really warm daytime temperatures,. Confusing all round

I am trying to allow for all of this is delaying sowing and planting dates by a few weeks, but nonetheless I still have a greenhouse bulging at the seams, and crops in the ground that feel as though they are just about ticking over.

Harvest Monday has  Radishes this week though, my favourite Cherry Belles grown in the polytunnel. They are so tender they almost need to be eaten as soon as they are rinsed off. Just luscious

Wild Garlic leaves are still nice and tender, although the plants are just beginning to flower, so I shall need to hurry up and make a couple of jars of pesto to keep on the fridge, before the older leaves start to toughen a bit

This picking is being used to make some more Cheese and Wild Garlic scones, which are delivious. I have already baked some with Chives in place of Wild Garlic a few days ago, and they went down very well too

The Wild Garlic bulbs I transplanted over into the Forest Garden are growing now, which is good, and I hope with the way they shed seeds around that this becomes a bigger area within a couple of years

The Chives are planted around the base of one of the Roses, as I have read this deters greenfly. The Rose has seemed fairly free of these littl pests, so perhaps there is some truth in this

 

The Rhubarb is in full swing now, despite the unusual weather, and I pull some stalks most weeks. These are for a basic Rhubarb compote, whilst the other half, which were the redder coloured stalks, was a gift for my daughter, for her first batch of Rhubarb GIn

This Week Out On The Plots:

Last week I mentioned the disaster that had befallen the precious Nine Star Perennial Cauliflower plants, which had been all but destroyed by Voles. Seven Voles and a Field Mouse later, the leaves have started to grow again, so if I can keep any further rodents from moving in around that bed, they may grow large enough to not be attractive to them any longer

The teeny transplanted Lettuces that I had to shade from brilliant sunshine, have settled in very well and begun to grow. Three are Oakleaf, a gift from Jane, and three Little Gem, all growing in the centre of the bed where climbing beans will be planted.  I have more of these small Lettuces, so will plant some in the polytunnels and some alongside the Summer Brassicas, as they will grow quickly enough to be harvested before these other crops need the space.

That Summer Brassica bed now holds 7 Cauliflower plants (All The Year Round), 7 Calabrese (Autumn Green) and 6 each of Summer Cabbages Primo (round heads) and Greyhound (pointed heads. I have build a tunnel of fine netting over the whole bed, and with the addition of some Nitrogen-rich chicken manure pellets, they should be fine without too much attention for a couple of weeks

Weeds seem to grow regardless of the weather, and this week I cleaned them out of the Spring planted Onion sets' bed. I was getting concerned that there were no self set Calendula plants on th eplots this year, but under the netting there were lots, mostly with two sets of leaves, just the right size to transplant. There are small clusters now planted around the ends of some of the beds, enough I hope for harvesting petals in the Summer, as well as some on the Community plot opposite my back gate

The Parsnip seedlings are starting to grow their second leaves now, which will make weeding a little simpler, as they are more easily identified

The recently sown Carrots (Autumn KIng) are germinating now, as are the Sweet Candle Carrots in the large tub

The wild plants in the Forest Garden are rapidly growing now. These Hedge Garlic plants are intended to offer a food plant for Orange Tip Butterflies to lay their eggs on, during the coming weeks, so I hope they attract their attention

And the early-fruiting Apple trees are in flower too, looking beautiful, smelling lovely and providing food for pollinators  like this Honey Bee.

The later fruiting trees, such as the Lord Derby, Bramley and Golden Delicious will open their flowers in a week or two, extending the season for insects feeding on these flowers

The plot behind mine has been taken out of circulation due to an extensive gravel pan, and is for Community use, for burning waste wood which cannot easily be composted, as well as to house deliveries of woodchip. Eight small trees were planted at the far end to create a copse for the future, as their roots should be able to penetrate the gravel as they grow, and this week I noticed they all have green leaves growing inside their rabbit-proofing protective tubes, which is really good news: Wild Cherries, Rowan and Crab Apple. The aim is for the rest of this side to grow wildflowers through the seasons, and the other side be kept as short grass, which will encourage Green Woodpeckers to feed

The plot does still look pretty scruffy though, especially now the daffodils are dying back, so yesterday my plot neigbour Gary used some energy and scraped the accumulated soil etc off the slab path running the whole length, carefully supervised by Jasper of course! Looks so much better, so good job done there

 

And my own plot had a bit of a makeover yesterday too, as another neighbour Mark set too, and strimmed all the path edges for me. Wow, what a difference. The plot looks so much more spacious without 30cm tall tufts of grass along the bed edges. Thank you to Mark!

In The Polytunnels This Week:

Weeding has been a regular this week, hoeing round the Onion plants and seedling Beetroot etc, as well as the early Potatoes and Peas.

There are quite a few spent crops that need to be taken out and chopped up for composting, to clear space for Summer plantings, and I made a start with the remains of the Winter Radishes and American Landcress, both of which were in flower, and with poor weather forecast for the next few days, finishing this undercover job might be good use of time

 

At Home This Week:

All the seeds sown recently, including those rather reluctant Tromboncini Squashes, have germinated, and are in the greenhouse. The Sweetcorn seeds germinated fairly quickly on wet paper in the propagator, and they are now planted in deep pots to grow on. 

I hope the weather is suitable for starting to harden off Tomatoes etc in the next day or two, as it will take a while before they are ready to move on to the polytunnel or their outside beds.

 Jobs for The Coming Week:

- Start to harden off tender plants in the greenhouse already potted on: Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Gherkins for polytunnel. Okra, Chillies Sweet Peppers, plus Celeriac plants

- Clear the remaining spent crops from the Polytunnel and add compost to the beds 

- Clear last season's Brassica bed, and prep for new plantings: (Tomatoes, Sweetcorn, French Beans & Celeriac)

- Pot on Squash plants, Courgettes and  outdoor Cucumbers and keep in greenhouse

- Move Winter Brassicas and Maincrop Leeks (Oarsman) from plastic growhouse in the garden to Polytunnel shelving, where they will be safe from voles

- Move germinating beans, Cosmos and French Marigolds into a lighter spot in the greenhouse once there is space

- Pot up hardy herbs into troughs and put out on the shelving at the plot

- Start to plant out early Leeks 

- Pot on Bizzie Lizzie plants into 9cm pots, and move to plastic growhouse

- Sow more Radishes in polytunnel and in Bean bed on #146 for succssion

- Plant out Beetroot and Spring Onion modules into polytunnel, making sure there is still space fr French Beans and Okra to follow

I may not get all of this done in the coming week, but jobs can roll over to the following week if necessary. It depends on both the weather and the state of my knees!

I hope you are all enjoying seeing your new plants starting to grow, and I shall let you know how mine have fared during the week, next Monday

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

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

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com