March 2020

23rd March - This has been the weirdest week ever, with schools closed, people asked to stay at home whee possible and if you go out, stay at least 2m away from each other.... and then, at the same time as the anxiety this brings, the loneliness and fear, allotment growing goes on pretty much the same, for which I am incrediby grateful. I can stay at the plot all day by myself,with time to sit and read, time to talk on the phone, and of course, time to work quite hard, which is of course a Really Good Thing. INterestingly, in our new poistion of "Lock Down", we shall be allowed to leave home to exercise once a day, as long as it is by ourselves and not near others. Aha! So we shall still be allowed to go to our Allotments: there was no restriction on how long the exercise period should last only that your should only do this once in the day. OK, so no second visits but I reckon I can cope with that, and being outside in the fresh air, surrounded by trees, vegetable plants and birds has to be positive

Harvest Monday is quite different to last week, although still with plenty to gather from the plots. The header photo really shows the  diversity of plants there are to harvest at this time in the year: a whole box of salad picked to share as well as enjoy myself. The list of ingredients included leaves of Wild Garlic, Fennel, Mint, Lettuce, Rocket, Baby Kale, Baby Perpetual Spinach, Baby Beetroot, Parsley and Chives, together with flowers from Violas, Primroses, Kale and Calendula. 

Kohl Rabi provided some extra crunch ,although as you can see, the middles are starting to show little gaps in the flesh, as they get near the point they will grow flowering stalks. Still pretty good though, and there are a couple left for the next week or so,

 

Purple Sprouting Broccoli is still in full production, and very much enjoyed by friiends as well as me, handed over by leaving on the doorstep for collection of course!

And the Parsnips are still as delicious as ever! Enough to eat several times a week, roasted with honey, made into soup with some chicken stock, mashed with butter and black pepper: such a versatile root!

On The Plots This Week:

The sunshine and social distancing meant I have spent more hours on the plot than usual, and at long last it is starting to feel much more like mine again, so I can sit and read without needing to constantly get up and fix things.

The Pea plants have survived the week with a little help from the snappy traps, and now the Mangetout are planted out on the second half of the support mesh. The extra mesh around them stops pigeons from pecking the to pieces, as well as preventing small birds from landing on the snappy traps

 

Once I had dug out more Parsnips, there was space for the De Monica Broad Bean plants to be set out. Pigeons rarley seem to bother with these, but mice are fond of trying to remove the remaining bean seeds: snappy traps are inside that bait box to try to protect the plants from their attention

As you can see, there are still a fair few Parsnips in the ground, but I shall have to take them out pretty soon, as otherwise the central core will start to get quite tough and will need to be cut out before the roots can be eaten

I at last managed to completely empty Compost Bin No 1, using the last few barrowloads to mulch over the dahlias, and with the front now screwed back on, I have somewhere to start the next lot of composting. Bin No 2 is also ready to use, although it can stay in the bin for now, and Bin No 3 is full, covered anf starting on its rotting journey. Always a sense of achievement when the bin front goes back on and the process begins anew! I have been able to empty all the buckets and boxes of compostables I had here and there, which made things look overall much tidier too

The sunshine has woken up lots and lots of insects how, and a wide variety of them are enjoying feeding from the Muscari flowers and the large number of Daffodils and Primroses on the plots too. I planted out some Viola plants this week, in the flower bed alongside one of the tunnels, as well as in a basket and a box near the seating area. I hope they develop into biggish plants, as they always look so good with mounds covered in flowers. 

I also planted out some Gladioli corms for cutting, plus I am keeping some for a later planting to try to extend the season

And then today the Pear tree blossom opened, so I am really pleased to see so many insects around, as there is a good chance of pollination. The Plum tree blossom is not far behind. The only issue could be frosts, as when the skies are clear at night temperatures drop vey quickly. This morning the tops of the garages and sheds were white with frost, and although it soon meled away as the sun rose, blossom could easily be damaged and then not produce fruit

The Potato beds, which were planted up on the 17th of this month, are still covered with black plastic, to keep the soil warm and protect any top growth that might grow really quickly and poke their heads up

The soil though is generally warm enough for sowing seeds of hardy varieties of vegetables, so this week I sowed:

-Carrots: Two short rows each of Speedo... bought specially as it reminded me of Abi, and anyone who knew his well will recognise why... Early Nantes 2 and Amsterdam Forcing, one row of eeach under a cloche and one in the open ground

- Parsnips; Gladiator and White Gem. This last is new to me, but as it was a free pack of seeds I thought I'd give them a go alongside my favourite. As last year, the drills were soaked first, seeds covered by dryish soil to avoid a hard pan of soil forming, and then the whole bed covered with black plastic. The aim is to keep the seeds moist and warm, to encourage germination. I shall take a look in two weeks' time

- Turnips:  a short row sown along the edge of one of the Potato beds

- Coriander: to follow on from the sowing last week in the polytunnel, straight into the ground in front of the Pea plants

 

In The Polytunnels This Week:

The growth of Potatoes under cover (Rocket) are now above ground, so I have taken their plastic covering off, although the cloches are still in place. The temperature in the tunnels dropped to just above freezing over the last two nights, so I am glad I took this extra precaution.

 

The Radish seeds have germinated, and it is always good to see that row of little leaves, a sign of good things to come!

I am still trying to work out where to plant the undercover Mangetout plants.......

 

At Home This Week:

 Those Tomato seedlings that were horizontal this time last week have recovered in the greenhouse, and although they are a little too tall , they are starting now to grow their first true leaves so are almost large enough to pot on: I shall then plant them quite deeply and then hopefully they will look normal again!

In fact there is masses that need potting on, so later in the week I shall have to spend a complete day at home and knuckle down to the job. I have re-organised the greenhouse to accommodate all the pots, so I really have no excuse! 

The other job for this coming week is more seed sowing: Tomatoes for outdoor growing, Courgette and French Beans for under cover growing, and anything else I come across in the seed box for March sowing. I am sitting on my hands with the Winter Squash sowing, aiming to avoid those huge lanky plants that never transer to the outdoors particularly quickly, sulking for ages before deciding to actually grow again

 

I am sure you remember the super-early frogspawn... well this has now hatched into tiny dark tadpoles, wriggling together in a mass in the shallow water above the weeds. Here they are in all their wiggly glory!!

I do hope that wherever in the world you are, you and your loved ones are safe and well. I shall be back next week, hopefully with a greenhouse full of potted on plants and a plot where all beds are either planted up or good to go!

 

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/

17th March - At a time of health and economic crises, where many of us have to stay isolated from family, friends and neighbours, perhaps for many weeks, having an allotment is an absolute Godsend. It provides an open air sanctuary from the same four walls, as well as opportunties for exercise and growing good food. I feel very fortunate I have somewhere safe and tranquil to go at such a challenging time. It has been interesting to see how mnany growers are looking upon this time as an opportunity to work on the their plots and in their gardens, which of course helps maintain mental as well as physical health

 

 Harvest Monday is, as always, a chance to share with others across several countries, information about our harvests. This week I have a wide range to share, not just virtually here on my blog, but in real life with neighbours, as there is more than I can eat myself. Putting paper-wrapped parcels on doorsteps maintains social distance, as we are asked to do right now. Maintina the distnace I mean, not wrap vegetables in newspaper

Today's header photo gives you an idea of how much I harvested. There has been much more than this, this is just today's haul! Here is a rundown of what these yummy vegetabkes are being used for:

Purple Sprouting Broccoli: Lots given away by the handful, but plenty to enjoy. Stir fried, it maintains its great colour and is deliciously nutty in flavour. Steamed, it is an excellent side vegetable, it is great in a vegetable curry and in pasta dishes

Leeks: These will start throwing up flowering shoots soon, so I thought I had better eat them first. They are excellent in cheese sauce, a white wine sauce or gently steamed. Some of these will be joining PSB in a pasta dish tonight with salmon, together with some chopped Flat Leaf Parsley. I do have a lot of Parsely, it grows in clumps in the paths and pops up in several of the veg beds too. I always leave some to go to seed, so that there are plenty of seedlings to follow on

Carrots have survived the Winter in the ground incredibly well this year, and there are still a fair number to harvest. Growing them under fine mesh has protected them from damage by Carrot Fly larvae, reducing the chance of them rotting, which coupled with the mild weather, had provided this start-of-Spring bonus. I add them to soups, and eat them in all sorts of other dishes too

I don't remember ever having such a large number of Parsnips still in the ground half way through March before, but it is certainly appreciated. As well as roasted, mashed and made into soup, I know now these make an excellent dhall. One of my neighbours explained the recipe to me, from a distance of about four metres of course, and i shall certainly be giving this a try later in the week

 Winter Radishes are a new addition to this year's Harvest Table. I sowed them a little late last Autumn, and so they are not as large as in previous years, but they are at least an edible size. Finely sliced, they add a welcome crisp pepperiness to salads, and the leaves wilt down to be beautifully buttery in texture, much like Spinach

Kale continues to grow fresh leaves, although the Cavolo Nero is slwing down now it is starting to flower. The Dwarf Green Curly Kale though, still has lots of lovely perfect leaves to harvest. They are both good in stir fries, sliced finely, quickly fried, then scattered across soup, as well as used in place of Spinach in Indian dishes

On the Plots This Week:

 I had to dig up quite a lot of the remaining Parsnips today, to get the area where Peas will be planted out ready, with supports for the plants in place too. Our site is very windy, so ensuring whatever is set up is secure is vital, or it all comes crashing down, one of the reasons I have stopped growing tall Peas, as they fell down so often and had to have guy ropes to keep them up!

Here is this year's support: weldwesh set in a curve with its back to the prevailing wind direction, held up by fence pins, to which it is attached with cable ties. The plan is to use one section of the bed behind the curve for Broad Beans and the other section for Edamame Beans, which I have never grown before. Peas (Early Onward) and Mangetout (Sweet Sensation) are almost ready to plant out in their modules: hope to have them in the ground by the weekend

The Primroses are at their best now, thriving in the slightly shady bed alongside one of the sheds

And there is a plethora of daffodils now flowering amongst the Rosa rugosa, perfect for early bees to feed upon, as well as looking lovely

And these blue Hyancinths smell luscious when they get warm in the sunshine: another good one for insects. They have grown in this spot for several years, after I planted out some spent bulbs from a basket display I had been given. A little bit of Blood, Fish & Bone when the apple tree next to them gets fed, and away they go each Spring

The Tulips have multiplied since last year, to give a brilliant splash of colour in a windowbox above the tap. Fortunately the squirrels didn't spot them up here: often they help themselves to Tulip bulbs, which is so disappointing come the Spring, when there are no flowers to enjoy

In the Polytunnels This Week:

The Onion seedlings potted on last week have started to stand up straight now, and look a little more promising, which I am relieved by, and there are signs of growth from the Vulcan Onion sets at last.

The area where the early Peas are going to be planted out is clear of weeds, and I shall make a similar support for them as the one out on the plot, using a smaller piece of weldmesh. This might be easier to manage than a tall vertical net, which is what I usually provide for them, and if the Peas are still growing when it is time to plant out Cucumbers, each can then have its own space

At Home This Week:

Before I went away for a few days last week, I sowed the Tomato seed for plants which will grow in the tunnels, but ended up going out in a bit of a rush, and I left the reflector on top of the clear lid of the propagator instead of along the side where it should be, so when the seeds germinated, they developed elongated stems in the poor light leaning right over almost horizontal

This is not the disaster it first seemed, because when the plants have their first true leaves I shall pot them on, planting them deeply, right up to those seed leaves, and all will be well. Here they are, in all their etiolated glory, so you can see what I mean!

I am especially pleased that the nine out of the ten seeds of Cyril's Choice have germinated, as they were given to me in 2008. 

They are all now in the more even light in the greenhouse, and have already straightened up quite well.

Lots had changed in the greenhouse on my return:

 

  • Basil has germinated.

  • And so has the Tango Celery

  • The Raab plants potted a week ago, with no proper leaves, now look quite lush

  • And both these Sweet Pepper seedlings and the Aubergines are ready to pot on

  • Cauliflower, Raab and Lettuce also need potting on into individual modules

  • Mangetout and Pea plants almost ready to plant out into the polytunnel, and into the outside bed too

 

Last year I bought a dwarf Nectarine tree in a sale, and I am so pleased to see it has flower buds this Spring. I think I might need to cover it somehow to keep the rain off, as this is (I think) how the Peach Leaf Curl disease of the leaves is transferred.  I can probably rig something up to do the job and still allow access to insects for pollination

And that is where I am up to this week. Who knows what the comings days will bring,  I shall continue to do my best to grow good clean food to eat, and to share with others too. I hope you all remain well and cope with the "social distancing" and "self isolation"  expected of us right now without letting it get you down. Gardening will help, I'm sure. Do everything you can to stay well

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/

9th March - What a Difference a Week Makes!! We have actually had some dry days, and even some sunshine, and it feels as though Spring in really just around the corner. AND on Sunday, as well as it being my ,ate husband's birthday (It seems very strange writing that phrase "late husband" as though he is lagging behind somewhere) it is our plot's birthday: We arrived here in 2008 to a sea of hevay clay mud and stones, laced with massive pernicious weeds. And now, the soil is friable and rich, weeds are mainly annual and there is a constant rolling on of crops throught the seasons and from year to year. And a lovely place to be it is, as well!

I'm starting, as usual, with Harvest Monday, which this week is pretty much the same as recently, as we move towards that time called The Hungry Gap, when Winter crops end and Spring ones haven't quite started yet. I am glad I have so much still in store, in the garage, in the freezer and preserves in jars.

First to the table this week is luscious Rhubarb, which, as I said before, is both early and huge, with plenty to share as well as keeping me well fed. This monster-sized plant came from my Dad's garden, where it grew in the same spot for more than forty years. 

The usual suapects are still cropping well:

Curly Kale, Tenderstem Broccoli and Purple Sproutng Broccoli


  • Dwarf Curly Kale has been a great success in the polytunnel through the Winter. It will start to develop flower buds soon, as it ends its season


  • This is the first time I have grown Tenderstem, from a strip of plants on the reduced table at a local Garden Centre. Definitely one to repeat


  • And Purple Sprouting Broccoli has masses of shoots still forming. It does have a very long growing season but is well worth the space it takes up

The curly Lettuces have sat all Winter in the tunnel, hardly growing, but now that the days are longer they are starting to thicken up and some are large enough to harvest. I hope they contiue to grow and do not  start to grow flower stalks, as there are about a dozen still left.

On the Plots This Week:

It has been lovely to spend time out on the plots in the sunshine, and this week I have worked on and around the Onion beds on #145, removing the layer of composted bark on the paths and replacing it with fresh woodchip, covering the beds with fine netting over the blue water pipe hoops to keep out pests and making sure they are well weeded. Onions do not like sharing their beds with other plants! 

The shallots and onion sets that overwintered in pots in the polytunnel had grown plenty of roots, and as the soil is relatively warm, it seemed time to plant them out

The Shallots went in alongside those that were planted out last Autumn, and it was interesting to see that those outside all Winter have brighter, lighter green leaves than the darker ones of the plants under cover, and they are also taller. The gaps are where bulbs with no top growth yet are planted: they have plenty or roots though

The Onions grown on in pots though have taller leaves than those growing outside

And to complete the set, this is the Garlic. I planted cloves from plants I grew last year, which I hope means they will thrive as well as their parent plants

I was given some Welsh Onions last Winter, and I poked them in the ground in the tunnels. During the year they  multiplied quite well, but they don't need the shelter of the tunnel really, so I dug them up and planted them alongside the Perennial Kale, making future planning easier with the two perennial crops in the same bed. There were enough Welsh Onions to share with my friend Jane, so I hope she will enjoy those flavourful green onion leaves as much as I have

 There was a new bird on the site this week, which I noticed because of its sweet trilling song. I thought initially it was a Linnet, but it is less streamlined than a Linnet, although quite similar in colouring of a female bird. I think it is a Twite, which I have never seen here before, and as there were three birds, I do hope they stay around and maybe breed here

It was tricky to get a clear photo against the sky, but if anyone has any other ideas about the birds' identity, please do let me know

In The Polytunnels This Week:

I potted up the seedling Ailsa Craig Onions into small individual pots, as they seemed very crowded in the modules where I sowed them and didn't seem to be growing. Outside, the rain bashed them around a bit too, so I hope they recover enough to put on some new leaves now. I did find it tricky potting up plants with one long root a hair's thickness in size, and thirty seven took me quite a while!

I sat down and carefully planned where each crop will be grown in the under cover space this season. I have enough home made compost to add about 10 cm to the beds, which will help the soil maintain a decent structure. I have taken into account what has grown in each section both this past year and the year previous too, in the same  way as I would when planning for the rotation in outside beds. I did suddenly realise I had left no space for Cucumbers to grow... 

Once the plan was done, I sowed some Coriander along the front edge of one bed. I grew it like this last year, and it worked incredibly well, being easy to keep it watered more easily somehow than in an open bed or a pot. 

I also popped in a short row of a Radish called 18 Day. I think this may refer to readiness to harvest at a warmer time in the year than early March, but I am keen to see how it compares with the Cherry Belle seeds I sowed a week ago, which are just starting to germinate

At Home This Week:

On the days where the rain tipped down, I made up another batch of potting mix, so I could sow some more seeds:

- All the Year Round Cauliflower

- Raab

- Sweet Green Basil

- Lettuce Lobjoits, which is a cos lettuce that takes a while to mature

- Lettuce Black Seeded Simpson

- Beetroot Boltardy

- Celery Tango , with green stens

- Mangetout Sweet Sensation

- Mixed Salad Leaves

In the sales back last Autumn, I bought some greenhouse staging, to extend the amount of space in the greenhouse for seed trays in the Spring, so it seemed the right time to put it together. And there were TWO sets in the box, so I can make two staging units!!!!  The second one will go in the garden to give a temporay space for hardening off plants: excellent.

As you can see , it didn't take long to fill up this first unit

There are also pots of sweetpeas just sown, plus the potted on seedlings of blue polyanthus, from seeds collected last Autumn by my youngest granddaughter and sown that same day. Once they are settled into their new pots, they will be hardened off to grow on to flowering size, mostly of course for her garden at home

The second sowing of peas are now germinating, and I think there is some movement from the Broad Beans too

I had another sowing session too, this time with Tomatoes which will be grown under cover. In the propagator now are seeds of:

- Black Opal (dark cherry)

- Sungold ( small yellow/orange)

- San Marzano (red plum) 

- Koralik (large cherry; bushy plant) not grown before

- Honeymoon -  (large pink fruit) not grown before

- Cyril's Choice -  red; short, stocky plant) old seed, so unsure if still viable

 

Flowers are brightening up with garden at home, with daffodils dancing in the breeze in the windowboxes outside the kitchen windows

 

 

 

And outside the backdoor, the large Skimmia plants are smothered in strongly scented flowers once again

While further down the garden, the first flowers are opening now on the red camellia, a beautiful colour that absolutely glows in the sun

 

This selection of hyacinths are all from bulbs given to me last Spring as presents, and left to die down naturally through the Summer.... and here they are again, with a beautiful display of blooms in a sheltered spot in the driveway. Their perfume is glorious

 Yesterday, for the first time this year, the sunshine reached the upstairs windowsill on the back of the house for a short time as the sun rose.... the year really is turning. Even if there is still a lot more rain than we would expect,or indeed want, and uncertainty about the impact of a new virus on our lives, and the lives of others across the world, Nature still takes the year forward regardless

 I hope you all stay well and are able to enjoy your growing

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/

 

2nd March - It's All About the Soil!  Anyone who knows me well knows my main goal is to ensure the soil is healthy, as then it can support healthy plants growth, which of course means plenty of tasty vegetables and luscious fruit.

In order to help this along in a major way, I compost everything I possibly can, with three cubic metre pallet bins, which is barely enough to be honest to cope with everything I want to put in. I have one being filled, one doing its own thing, and one just resting, waiting to be put to its main use, adding organic matter to the soil

Last week I mentioned that Bin No 3 is so full I can barely cover the bulging beast, which signals time to open Bin No 1... and here it is in all its glory, filled with wonderful dark crumbly compost, just perfect for mulching round fruit trees, roses etc and adding to the soil of the veg beds. This helps it drain well when weather is wet, retain enough water when times are dry and provide  a good dose of all the wonderful organisms that go to create a healthy, living eco-system so roots can access nutrients and thrive.

I read all sorts of articles about composting, what you can and can;t put in, how often it should be turned etc. Hmmmmm. Sometimes it is hard to know what to add and what might be a bad idea, and so often I see fellow growers barrowing away perfectly good ingredients, which, I have say I do sometime snaffle if I know them well

Here is my very easily understood list of what to add: anything green and anything that was once green, plus any soil that happens to be attached to it, unless you happen to have some dreadful soil-borne disease such as onion white rot, or brassica club root.

Just chop things smallish and add in layers as you go along, one layer of kitchen waste, sot green weeds etc to one layer of shredded paper and mix thos two layer together... just keep going.( You can add tron up paper, egg boxes, cardboard as well as the paper if you have them available.. remember these used to be green ie trees) 

 

As long as you keep these layers in roughly equal proportions, it'll be fine. The green waste provides Nitrogen, the "used to be green" waste, often called "browns" adds carbon and the soil adds essential bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms to help along the rotting process.

It itseems very dry, water it well. This also makes an environment unattractve to ants nesting in it, or rodents etting up home too. Keep the heap covered so it doesn't get too wet or dry out too quickly, plus of course it helps kep everything nice and snug so it rots down more quickly

You can see the proof it works in the photo, and really as long as you have two bins of any kind, so one can really get to work while you are filling the othger, it is dead simple. It gets pretty warm, maybe not hot enough to kill weeds seeds but hey, we can all manage weeding if necessary.

Perennial weed roots get drowned first in a bucket of water, then added water and all but sometimes I don't even bother and they don't survive. Potato and tomato plants with blight can indeed be composted as the spores only survive on living potato or tomato matter, and once rotted, they are certainly dead! I really do chuck it all in, old leaves, grass clippings mixed in well so they don't clag up, bean haulms cut up, everything except cooked food, meat or animal faeces

OK,compost lesson over: JUST DO IT!!! Your soil will thank you a hundred times over

PS All for free!!!!!

 Although I consider compost to be a major harvest, it is of course an indirect one , so here are some immediately edible contributions to this week's Harvest Monday.

 This is the first harvest of Rhubarb this year, early and with quite long stalks already, but very, very good indeed. I stewed this with a minimum of water until it was barely cooked, left it to cool and then ate it with plain thick yoghourt and a drizzle of honey. It kept its shape and texture like this and was absolutely lush

 

Another "first" for the year is this pretty frilly Lettuce, which has overwintered in the polytunnel, slowly growing unitl one is large enough to pick now. There are several more so it looks like I shall be able to have lettuce every week for a while now, and then the next lot might be ready!

And then there are the two current stalwarts: Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kohl Rabi. The skin on these last is getting abit tough now, but as I peel them anyway it doesn't really matter. They are so good in salad as well as cooked dishes like stir-fry so I am really glad to still have some available

And there are still lots of Parsnips and Carrots in the ground, in good condition despite the wet weather. I have almost finished the Carrots in store so those in the ground are now importsnat despite them being quite small. 

I have never had so many still edible at this point in the year, and it seems strange to think it will soon be time to sow both of these vegetables for the next crop. I do hope the method I used last year for aiding germination of the Parsnips works again, ie covering them with a black plastic cover for two weeks after sowing. Was it chance, or was it a reliable method? Have to see what happens this time around

On The Plots This Week:

The weather is so wildly unpredictable it is difficult to plan ahead with work on the plots, so I just have a jobs list to work my way down, as and when I can be there and not freeze solid. That wind has been icy, the first week of meteorological Spring or not

I have done a few bits though, such as fixing up the wire fence to repair a small hole before it gets big enough to admit a rabbit, weeding the second Autumn-sown Onion bed on #145 , as well as making in-roads into compost bin No 1. Several barrowsful are now piled on the end of the bed where climbing beans will be grown. I cannot yet spread it properly as there are still some savoy cabbages growing in it, but they will be eaten in plenty of time for full prep of that bed. The nearby rose bed is now clear of unwanted Japanese Anemone runners, and the Chives along the front, which were struggling through some dead nettle, as now free to stand up straight... and then a 3cm mulch of compost has been added which will do them all good. I plan to fill the space around the roses with Chives, as they do grow well together. It will also mean I have plenty of Chives to snip for leaves, without over-cropping any single clump.

I have also thickly mulched around the Rhubarb plants while the ground and good and wet, leaving the crowns free, as they do not thrive if covered. I hope this means the plants are better able to stand any possible droughts this Summer, as the last two years have been hard on them

Plenty of compost left, so I have re-covered it so it both stays dampy but also will not get washed away in any downpours. The beds most in need are the Dahlia bed and the funny shaped flower bed near the top end of the tunnels, so weeding them and barrowing compost over is next on the list

Another not-very-exciting-but-essential job every year is working out which beds need to be covered against pests, with which type of net and how these will be supported. As this year I aim to cover the beds where Oniosn are growing, and then a little later also the Leeks to try to avoid damage from Onion Fly and Allium Leaf Miner, a serious stock take was needed, followed by ordering some extra fine netting, which should arrive in a week or two. I usually support this with hoops of blue water pipe in true allotment style, so counting up how many are needed for these extra frou beds to cover took a whiel. Quite a relaxing job in this afernoon's sunshine though. In the end i have enough hoops, but not enough stakes to hold them up straight, so I shall be off to the shop in the morning

The Brassica beds need butterfly-proof netting, at least one bed with a tall enough cover for the Purple Sprouting Broccoli to grow up straight. Frames all available, but some netting has rips in it, which I have attempted to repair for the past four years, so that is on my shopping list too.

Fruit and Blueberry cage and Strawberry table netting is all OK and supports in place already as they are faurly permanent. 

As I said, not very exciting, but essential to get sorted before it is needed, and one I can highly recommend before sowing and planting really takes off

In the Polytunnels This Week:

Last week I planted some Broad Bean plants, and added one of the Sork bulbs which are claimed to repel moles and field mice. Usually I remove the remains of the old seed before planting, but I left them on, and also put down four snappy traps , in case any mice did fancy a snack. So far the plants are untouched and no mice have been caught. Is this a sign these strange smelling bulbs actually work? I do hope so! 

The potted Autumn Onion sets and Shallots are ready to move out onto the plot now, as their 5 inch pots are full of roots, even for those where the top growth has hardly begun. They have certainly got larger roots than the ones planted straight into the ground at the same time, which I hope means they develop larger bulbs during the growing season

 

At Home This Week:

I have re-sown the early Peas and the second lot of Broad Beans, following the first sowing being munched up by mice in the greenhouse. Fortunately I re-set the snappy traps, as one invader was foolish enough to visit last night

I now have a largish pile of seed packets here ready for sowing in modules in the coming week, which were straightforward enough to sort through. A much more challnging job was sorting out which Tomatoes to grow this year, given the challenge of growing any varieties not resistant to Late Blight during the past two or three years, even in the polytunnel.

So... the plan is to grow BR varieties outside on the plots and have some smaller fruited (and therefore quicker maturing) in the tunnel, with a small number of plants in containers at home outside in the garden, with three in pots in the greenhouse.

And this week has seen distribution of the vast weight of frogspawn laid in the pond, with shares being given to ponds at the plot site as well as locally. As most of the tiny tadpoles are eaten by fish in the home pond, and greedy blackbirds, I hope this means more will survive to become froglets

Jobs for the coming week include cutting back the long stems of brambles from behind the greenhouse at home before they reach the ground and take root, re-staking one of the Italian Cypress trees which has come loose from its ties in recent storms, both of which I noticed while I was giving the grass the second cut of the year yesterday. The section of garden alongside the garage is in need of a re-vamp,as some plants have outgrown their space whilst others are really past their best. This area is in full view of the house and I would like it to look good throughout the year rather than only in the Spring. And of course there are seeds to sow!

I hope everyone stays well and able to get out into their gardens and onto their plots as we move into Spring

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/