March

1st March  the start of meteorological Spring, with weather to match! Unseasonably warm sunshine, although frosts at night under those cloud-free skies. Almost warm enough to be the end of May, not the beginning of March, but let's enjoy it while we can

Let's not forget that cold weather is almost certainly going to reappear, and only the hardiest of plants will survive outside for a good few weeks yet

This week's Harvest Monday has a couple of things on the table, although as I left my camera at my son's house over the weekend some of them have no accompanying photos

There was the first proper picking of Tenderstem Broccoli from the polytunnel, after the initial heads were destroyed by voles, plus some beautiful deep purple Sprouting Broccoli too. As it is likely more will follow, photographs will appear at a later date

There was also a very good green salad this weekend, of Mizuna flower stalks, Miner's Lettuce and Radiccio. This last was picked from the short row of plants in the polytunnel, most of which are the glorious deep red of the plant in the header photo, but one is a red-splashed green one. They both have that bite of bitterness to them, which really offsets the sweetness of other leaves and shoots. I have not had much success with this in the past, as the leaves tend to get damaged in wet weather, but in the shelter of the tunnel they have really thrived

These Leeks are the ones planted in a spare corner because there was not enough space in the designated bed, but they had the benefit of a net cover ...unlike the "proper" ones... so were undamaged by Leek Moth. Quite pleased with them considering they would otherwise have been consigned to the compost heap

Out On The Plots This Week:

Well the weeds are certainly starting to grow apace! Another job to add to The List. I tried to ignore them though, to get on with other jobs that needed doing, and were far more pleasant in the sunshine, namely painting the wooden planters and herb trough stand, to help them last a bit longer. They also look rarher smart again, which of course feels good

The wooden sheds on #145 look much more business-like now they are painted all round. With some help from Gary, the smallest one now also has new hinges too, so the door can open and close. Much more useful than when it was jammed shut! 

The longest part of the job of course was emptying that little shed and sorting the contents: large, very large in fact, pieces of debris netting (now rehomed to the Chicken Club) and masses of what was basically rubbish (gone into the grey waste bin at home) so there now an empty shed. The orginal purpose  was in for it to house toilet facilities, so some thinking round that is now possible.

The shed on #146 has already been sorted, and this morning i was very grateful, as The Rat in The Shed became The Rat in the LIvetrap!!! I should have take a photo of him, a huge, healthy looking beast, but an uninvited guest at the party nonetheless. I didn't really know what to do with him, but eventually took him right down to the far corner of the site where there are no plots, just wilderness, and released him. I then cleaned the shed as best I could... no rubbish to deal with this time of course... and re-set the trap.

I suddenly realised it is time to sow Carrots. I usually have some in a pot or a box already, and the outssdie bed ready to go by now. Having re-orgnaide my planting plan, I knew which bed was for Carrots this year so set to and cleared it this morning. I have some sand being delivered next week, weirdly with my shopping (!!) so I can add some to the soil then. 

This led on to pruning the Roses as the large climber with the huge hooked thorns is at the end of this bed, and I thought I might as well do the Floribundas on the endge of the Forest Garden too. The Rugosas are on The LIst now, as is the peach Shrub Rose on the boundary

Definitely time to get a proper sowing plan together, not only focus on those maintenance tasks

Other growers' thought are certainly turning to seeds and sowing, as a group are busy organising a Seed Swap Station on the central Community Plot. Excellent development!

In The Polytunnels This Week:

I did clear out the pile of pots and trays that had accumulated, and brought them home to wask, but unfortunately the shelving I thought I could use in that space is all boggled and won't stand up... not much good for trays of precious seedlings! A re-think needed there. At least there are wire shelves in the other tunnel to use, but more would be really useful at this time in the year

However, on a more positive note, the over Wintering crops are thriving in the extra sunshine, and I think there will be plenty of Perpetual Spinach and Mustard Greens to keep me going, as well as Sprouting Broccoli (especially as the outdoor plants haven't any sign of "sprouting" yet) and of course the beautiful Radiccios. This is the spotty one I mentioned earier: really lovely crunchy leaves. Odd there was one like this as I expected them all to be red, but a good surprise to have. There are also still plenty of Winter Radishes and various salad leaves too

The soil is fairly warm in there, especially where it has been covered, so I planted four First Early Potatoes... Rocket . Having dressed the soil with some Blood, Fish & Bone and given it a good soak, I covered the area back up to keep it warm and damp. Once the shoots start to come through I can earth them up and cover again, to try to keep them free from frost damage. There is always the option of putting fleece over them as well if necessary. Night time temperatures have been below zero all week, and may well continue like this for a while yet

The Spring Onions sown at home have been hardened off and planted out, a row in one tunnel, which will eventually be between two rows of Beetroot, and this short row behind the Potatoes in the other, where they will not be in the way of any follow-on crops. These three droopy clumps may look very unpromising, but should pick up quite quickly and the new leaves will be upright and perfect for eating

At Home This Week:

The greenhouse is lovely and warm in the sunshine, and smells gorgeous, thanks to the pink Hyacinths in bloom. Most seeds have now germinated, just the Rosa de Mallorca Peppers to go now. There are so many that need potting on I think I shall have to dedicate a whole day to it, making up a huge batch of compost mix and just getting my head down. Peppers, Chillies, Aubergines, Cauliflowers, Celeriac and Peruvian Black Mint all need attention now. Both lots of Onions are partially hardened off and ready to pot on. I had some difficulties in sourcing the size pots that I prefer for this, but now have managed to buy some, so these Onions are first on that extensive list

Pinks come in all sorts of colours

Fortunately all the Peas, Mangetout and Broad Beans can transfer to the polytunnels along with the Onions once potted on, plus the Sweet Peas too, and so make space on the greenhouse  stagingfor all those newly potted tender plants. Now's the time to keep an eye out for pesky  little greenfly, that just love these juicy stems and leaves!

I did find time to pot up the Korean Firs, give all the Bonsai trays a top-up of fresh soil, and also plant up my new Pinks plants which arrived this week as small modules. They are going to grow in the pots along the drive this year, as well as some at the plot. I really like their perfume so am looking forward to their flowers this Summer.  They are not called Pinks beacuse of their colour, but after the little zigzags along the edges of their petals, as though they have been cut with pinking shears. I think they look really pretty, and they make good cut flowers too

In the garden, I can now reach the washing line since I pruned the Fig tree. Luckily the sap wasn't moving yet, and so I didn't get covered in sticky latex from the cuts, thank goodness

I took all the dead leaves off the Hellebore plants, so that the pretty flowers are much more visible, and there, under some that had flopped over onto the path, I found a teeny tiny Cyclamen Coum plant in flower, having grown in a gap in the brickwork

I am not sure I shall be able to prise it out undamaged, so it may just have to stay there. Such a lovely colour! The seeds are dispersed by ants, which eat the sticky coating before discarding the seed itself, so one must have carried this one a fair way, because the other plants are over a metre away from this little one in the flower bed

 

The purple Crocuses are in full flower now, and are being much enjoyed by the bees. I look forward to seing these flowers every year, as their opening is a sign the seasons are moving on, with the sunshine reaching that part of the garden again

I feel I managed to deal with the majority of what was planned, especially the big jobs at the plot, but always, here is the next list:

Jobs For The Week

- sow Lobelia and Thunbergia seeds in the propagator

- pot on Onion seedlings into newly purchased pots and take these to the polytunnel, along with the Pea, Mangetout, Broad Bean and Sweet Pea plants

- organise the planting area for the Peas and Mangetout in the polytunnel, and plant if possible

- pot on all those seedlings from the greenhouse, and re-organise them to acommodate their pots/modules

- carry on with bed prep for Carrots & Parsnips on #146. 

- sow early Carrots and Beetroot in the polytunnel

Will there be time to weed the Garlic, Shallots and Onions? Probably not, but it can hover on the list just in case!

Hope you found this week's progress interesting: I am fairly happy with what I managed, it feels almost under control, albeit briefly. I hope I can say the same in a week's time. 

PS I have Frog spawn in the garden pond, at least three weeks earlier than usual!

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

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