April 2018

30th April - Goodness me, that Spring didn't last long, did it? Really chilly again, and I am so glad I hung back on planting tender veg like sweetcorn and courgettes in the polytunnel, as they would be very unhappy in these temperatures. Despite the lower temperatures, I took part of the bubble plastic insulation out of the greenhouse at home this morning, as the tomato plants are beginning to get a bit "leggy" and need stronger light. There is no danger of sunscorch, I can say for sure!!!

 

Space is getting very squeezed. The leek seedlings are now outside in their deep tray, and although they look a bit windswept I am sure they will be fine. Their space on the staging has been taken by pricked out Celery Leaf and clumps of large leaved Basil seedlings. Basil seems to like company and grows best in clumps, and now that these are potted on it should be happy enough for another couple of weeks. I might split the clumps in half when they're eventually planted out, as I read somewhere this week that they like growing in threes.... far be it from me to disadvantage them, as we can get through a lot of Basil, for pesto, tomato dishes, salads and so on, so the more can grow the better

The Celery Leaf is a real unknown. I read it could grow up to a metre tall, and then this week I saw  more articles that indicated more like 25-30cm. Quite a difference there. And having never seen it in the UK ever, today I saw some seedlings for sale in a Garden Centre, with advice to plant in clumps 20 cm apart. Well, these have been individually  pricked out, and I am still not sure which bed they will end up in, never mind how much space they will need, but one where they can be nice and moist will be good... more compost to dig in, I think.

This next photo is of a crop sown on the same day as the Basil and Celery Leaf: Salad Rocket, which takes us straight into Harvest Monday. These were potted on two weeks ago and are now large enough to cut a leaf at a time, and make a very welcome addition to green salads

Our other harvest this week have been:

Radishes : the last of the Cherry Belles from the polytunnel. The French Breakfast seeds sown with the parsnips as row markers germinated last week, and more seeds (Sparkler) are now in alongside the row of peas

Spring Onions: Two good harvests of these this week; I still haven't sown any more due to lack of space to stand the modular tray anywhere! 

Lettuce: This is the first of the Black Seeded Simpsons, and we really enjoyed it. There are several more on the way so we shouldn't go short on lettuces, especially as I planted out some Red LIttle Gem plants a couple of days ago

Wild Garlic Flowers: These made a delicious garnish to our steak and onions, and with plenty more still opening, we shall be eating them quite often for the next two weeks or so

Mustard Greens (not in the photo); The final harvest of these wonderful leaves, as the plants have now been taken out to make space for the sweetcorn plants. Such a high value crop, and they are in this year's Sowing & Planting Plan, to be sown for planting out in October under cover.

Rhubarb (another one not in the photo). Just one stem to make some compote to flavour yoghurt

Rosemary & Flat Leaf Parsley: The first with roast lamb, the second in green salad. I had planned to sow some parsley seed, but found several seedlings near where plants flowered last year, so have transplanted these instead... plants for free!!

 And that is the last of this week's harvests

Despite the cold and the rain, we have been busy. The second polytunnel will be needed very soon for those tomato and chilli plants, so Abi has taken up the tarpaulin which has covered the area for the past 18 months; underneath, the ground was free of weeds and grass, although it was obvious that the rats had created a whole city for themselves in the warm and dry.

He has now dug the trenches in which will be buried the ends of the cover... here it is as of yesterday. 

There were lots of these disturbed by the digging, but they were carefully put onto the adjoining potato bed. Lob Worms, are Anecic, and make permanent vertical burrows, which help to drain the soil. The one was around 25cm long, and had an orangey coloured "girdle" of eggs, which it will crawl out of and leave as a cocoon from which they eggs will then hatch. Fascinating creatures, earthworms.

The other backbreaking job this week has been weeding the two large flowers beds we established on #145 last year. The soil in these was still the original unimproved clay, which sets hard and cracks after a few hot days and turns to a sticky, waterlogged mass after a couple of days of rain, although it is relatively fertile.

Adding about 5cm of compost from under the woodchip paths has already made the soil more friable, and so transplating seedlings of Calendula and Candy Tuft was very easy. All the dahlias are now planted as well, and labelled too.

Last year, the triangular bed was edged all around with Verbena bonariensis, which looked fantastic but severly restricted access to the bed itself, so it was time for a bit of a re-think: removing some of those verbena and adding two paths of stepping stones has improved things a lot, whilst still, I hope, keeping the impact of those beautiful tall and airy purple flowers.

The unusually cold Spring does seem to have suited the fruit bushes; they are in full bloom now and there has been a low hum amonst them, as bees move from flower to flower feeding, and of course, pollinating them in the process. As long as we don't get a hard frost,  we may well have a bumper crop

  • Jostaberries

  • Blackcurrants

  • Blueberries

  • Redcurrants

Earlier I shared a photo of a Lob Worm, which some folk may not find that attractive. Here is another photo, this time of a cock pheasant in all his glory, and there is no doubt he looks very fine.

But one is a growers' friend and the other is a real pest!!! No prizes for guessing which is which. So many poltholders have notoced their garlic plants, or onions (or in our case, saffron plants) look as though they have been snipped off with scissors, two inches from the ground. Yes, our local pheasants are the guilty ones. So he is not welcome inside our plots, although he can strut his stuff on the verges any time.

Even though this weekend has been so cold, the white lilac tree outside our back door is blossoming, and the perfume is a reminder that is indeed Springtime, and that sunshine will surely be here soon

The apple blossom is just as beautiful, and smells just as gorgeous. If only we could bottle these exact scents!!

And on that note, I shall finish for this week. 

I hope everyone is coping with their various weathers... too cold, too wet, too snowy, or, in some parts of the wrld, too hot and too dry. We still all manage to grow something to eat though, which says something about gardeners' tenacity really!

I'll be back next Monday: who knows what the week might hold for any of us, but I hope enough of it is enjoyabel for you all

If you'd like to read more about Harvest Monday, have a look here at Dave's hosted pages

http://www.ourhappyacres.com/

and if you would like to contact me, you're very welcome, on:

info@alitttlebitofsunshine.co.uk

and I'll get back to you as soon as I can

23rd April -Happy St George's Day - Even if there isn't a knight in shining armour in the wings, we do have new prince born today. His birth date will always be remembered for sure! 

The change in the weather from almost Winter to nearly Summer, with temperatures reaching 31°C at the plots last Thursday, has really encouraged flowers to bloom and seeds to germinate. And not before time. The wettest March for a long time, then the hottest day in April for 77 years ... difficult to know what might be around the corner to be honest. All we can do is to sow and plant when we can, and cross our fingers there is no more extreme weather around the corner. From growers in other countries, it seems we have not been the only ones with "unseasonal" snow or drought, but it is what it is and so we press on. Nature has a way of catching up, so let's enjoy what comes

The Blackthorn blossom is billowing all along the rear hedgerow, making for a beautiful view form our back gate, and it is easy to see why this time in the year is called Blackthorn Winter isn't it? 

Fruit trees are blossoming in the garden and on the plots, and those in the orchard area on #145 are looking very pretty, with the white of the pear and damson flowers, and the bright pink of the apple flower buds.The Bramley tree in the photo above is on the boundary between the plots, right alongside our line of compost bins, and so gets extra nourishment from the soil there I think. 

The rhubarb plants are alongside the bins, which might be one of the reasons why it does so well. If you remember, I mulched the crowns with grass clippings last Autumn, and that may have also helped. It has reached triffid proportions already!

 

That takes us nicely to Harvest Monday, in which Rhubarb figures of course. I am going to attempt Rhubarb and GInger Soda Bread tomorrow, using a recipe from Jack Munroe. If it turns out well, I shall include the recipe so you can see it, plus of course I shall be able to find it when I need to.

We have had more Cherry Belle Radishes (salads, and snacks for a five year old grand daughter, who insisted on taking some home for her Mum & Dad too) Growing them under cover certainly leads to perfect looking roots. I have sown some more outdoors, so the comparison will be interesting.

Winter Hardy White Lisbon Spring Onions are still going strong ( potato salad and green salad), and the next batch have now been planted out on #145 between the garlic and the shallots, with the rather muddy help of the same five year old. Which reminds me, I must sow some more seed in modules to keep up the supply. As long as they get enough water, they do well all Summer.

And then there is Spinach. The leaves shown here were baby ones picked for salad, but I also harvested a large bunch of Mustard Greens and Perpetual Spinach, which our son took home for Spinach & Potato Curry. The Mustard will be coming out soon, as it is now over a metre tall and the stems are getting rather tough, but we have been eating from them, and the Perpetual Spinach, since before Christmas, so they have certainly been high value plants

We have also had lots of Wild Garlic leaves, which was used in a quiche before I remembered to take a photo of it

There was one other harvest I should mention : Dandelion flowers. There are 240 of them in this bag, and the plan was to make a small batch of Dandelion Syrup. I duly cut off all the green ends of the flower heads, put the yellow petal in boiling water and left it overnight to steep.

This morning I strained the petals out, and looked doubtfully at the yellowish liquid in the bowl> Not very inviting. I spooned out about a centimetre depth into a mug, stirred in some sugar and tasted it.... sadly, not what I was hoping for, but as slightly bitter, definitely non-floral flavour. 

Best poured away, I decided. So no Dandelion Cordial

 

It has been a very busy week all round, even without including the time it took to pick and trim all those dandelion flowers:

- New Strawberry plants are now planted in their troughs, so that they can be brought in under cover once the fruits are formed. I did this last year, and it meant we had a good crop, as they were less vulnerable to vole attack. Flowers are beginning to open on some of last year's plants: these are a very early variety so I am hoping to have some strawberries in a few weeks' time

- Pea plants (Hurst Green Shaft & Boddington's Soup Pea) and Sugar Snaps (Magnolia Tendril Pea) are planted out against wire supports. With it being such a windy site, every year the whole pea structure blows over, leaving pigeon-perching spots so they can peck off all the tender tops. This year I have chosen a shorter variety and so made a shorter, very stout structure, which I hope stays in place. I think the Soup Pea may be tall, but I shall try to train it along the wire, or perhaps put up some extra string to support it is necessary, but without leaving anywhere for the dastardly pigeons to sit. The tendril peas are relatively biddable plants. I grew a few last year from seed a friend sent me (Thank you, Beryl) and they were so good I saved enough for more plants this year. The space in the middle is for the Terrain peas, which have been a bit slow off the mark. Sweet Peas have been planted at each corner, which I hope supply us with bunches and bunches of flowers over the Summer

- Beetroot  is sown, in the space between the pea fence and the bean wigwam: Crimson Globe, Chioggia & Cylindra. As soon as they are up I shall start using chilli around them to try to put mice off eating them... I hope!! After last year's debacle, I have space the rows further apart to provide less cover for them, but I donlt know if this will make any difference.

- Onion & Garlic beds on #146 are weeded, and seedlings of calendula & candytuft transplanted to spots where they can grow unhindered

- Sown in modules are

           ~ Runner Beans: Prizewinner, Moonlight, Firestorm & Black Knight (Thanks to Hayley for

             this last variety)

           ~ Dwarf French Beans (Speedy & Orinoco)

           ~ Climbing French Beans (Monte Cristo, Monte Gusto & Carminat)

           ~ Calabrese (Monclano, a club root resistant variety)

           ~ Greek Basil

           ~ Chard ( Rainbow)

And sown in small pots in the propagator are:

             ~ Winter Squashes (Sweet Dumpling, Autumn Crown, Cornell's Delicata, Thelma

                Sanders, Butternut Hercules, Indian Ute, North Georgia Candy Roaster)

             ~ Courgettes (Coucouzelle, Sure Thing, Lungo Bianco)

             ~ Cucumbers: (Telegraph Improved, Zeina ( Gherkin Cornichon de Paris)

             ~ Malabar Spinach

             ~ Melon (Outdoor Wonder)

                

With the warmer weather, I moved all the pelargoniums and other overwintered potted plants out of the greenhouse at home onto a sheltered patio, making space for modules and pots of flower seeds: Zinnias, Cosmos, Bupleurum, Cerinthe, Sunflowers and more sweet peas. (Nasturtiums, Nigella & Calendula are to sow directly)

Tomorrow is dahlia planting day, as by my reckoning, by the time any of them poke up shoots, the chances of a frost will be remote. As I bought several new ones this year, I am determined to label them in a way that is still legible at the end of the season! Black Sharpie pen on wooden stakes?

Out along the hedgerows, wild flowers (not just dandelions) are blooming in every increasing numbers:

  • White native Bluebells are fairly uncommon, so I was pleased to spot these on a woodland walk this morning, in amongst the new Cow Parsley leaves

  • The hedgerows are lined with flowers, including these of the Greater Stitchwort, sometimes known as The Star of Bethlehem or Daddy's Shirt Buttons

This however, was my favourite of the day: Wild Violets. There were literally hundereds of them growing on a sunny bank, and I shall be visiting again tomorrow to gather a few to crystallise

Usually to end I have some interesting wildlife, or a flower newly in bloom, but this week I am ending with a view of #146, which is beginning to look a little more cared for at last. The seas of Forget-me-Nots do help of course, but after a long wet, cold Spring it is heartwarming to see things growing once more.

I hope you've enjoyed looking at our photos today. I shall be back next week, hope fully with dahlias in the ground and at least some of the seeds sown this week having germinated

 

PS Telegraph Cucumbers, Melons and Thelma Sanders squashes sown on 20th are already up!!!! They are now in the greenhouse as the light is much better than on the windowsill, even with tinfoil reflectors, so that they won't grow great long stems with tiny leaves at the top, but be sturdy plants

If you'd like to read more about Harvest Monday, have a look here at Dave's hosted pages

http://www.ourhappyacres.com/

and if you would like to contact me, you're very welcome, on:

info@alitttlebitofsunshine.co.uk

and I'll get back to you as soon as I can

16th April - Spring is Sprung at last!! After a long, cold and very wet start, Spring is well and truly here, and things are starting to grow again. Flowers are everywhere, and new harvests are here for Harvest Monday:

Radishes - Cherry Belle from the polytunnel, perfectly round and red, crisp, crunchy and peppery. A wonderful addition to salads. 

Spring Onions - Winter Hardy White Lisbon, again from the polytunnel, planted out before Christmas and now bulking up to a size ready to enjoy. Salads, including potato salad are really enhanced by their clean flavour

We have also had pickings of Perpetual Spinach and Curly Kale, both as young, tender leaves for salad

Since our return from a few days in Wales, there has been a flurry of activity. Tomato seedlings have been pricked out and potted up, and always, there seemed to be rather a lot of these, but homes have been found already for the surplus (Thank goodness) so I don't mind growing them on for a little bit longer. 

It is worth taking a little care over to plant tomato seedlings as deep as is practical, even right up to their seed leaves, as they then grow roots from along the buried stem, making for a stronger plant in the end. 

Here is a quick run down of what is currently in the frost free greenhouse, which is getting fuller by the day:

  • Aubergine & Chillies

  • Sweetcorn

  • Peas & Sugar Snaps

  • Dwarf French beans

  • Rocket, Basil & Celery Leaf

  • Tiger Nuts

  • One courgette

  • Tomatoes

  • Oca & Pelargonium cuttings

  • Spring Onions

  • Leeks

  • Yacon & Cannas

Euphorbia Diamond Frost was a discovery for us last year, and its dainty flowers gave us a lovely display for many months. I cut it back hard in the Autumn and it has grown back to be already covered in flowers again. It'll be coming out of the greenhouse soon, to pride of place on the garden table once more

We like it so much I sent for five rooted cuttings, which are looking very healthy. Next Autumn I shall try to take some of my own to overwinter in the greenhouse

As plants move out, space will be created for new sowings, such as the runner beans and climbing french beans. I am pretty well keeping up now with The Plan, and it acts as an "aide memoire" so that I can check I haven't missed anything

Direct sown on #146 are now:

Parsnips - Vulcan, The Student and Duchess. Afer last year's dismal germination I have sown them much more thickly, with a view to thinning as and when it is needed (Or if, perhaps I should say)

Radishes: Sparkler, sown with the parsnips to act as a row marker and give us more food from the same space

Carrots: Sweet Candle and Nantes 5

I also dug over the bed where the runner beans will go, and raked in lime to where the cabbages, cauliflowers and calabrese will be set out. These plants are in the garden at home in 3 ins pots, with the plan of growing them on to a good size before planting them out, hoping that this, together with the extra lime, will deter club root, which seems to have become an issue on this plot in the last couple of years.

The Autumn planted onions on #146 have been weeded, and amongst them are a lot of candytuft seedlings, which I shall resite somewhere more appropriate. I have already moved calendula seedlings from the carrot bed to beds further up the plot. Seems silly to pull them out when they can provide such beautifl flowers in a few weeks' time.

I do need to sow seeds of other flowers we are planned to grow this year. Perhaps the warmer weather will help them get off to a good start, but they are not going to grow in their packets!

This time last year, pear blossom was nearly over and the apples were in full flower, but this year.... pear trees are just beginning to open their blossom, and apple blossom is still tightly furled. On the plus side, there are a lot of insects about now, which can pollinate the flowers

Our youngest pear tree bore three pears last year, so this season, with the help of the bees, there may be a few more

New flowers in the garden this week include yellow Erythronium "Pagoda", which is building up into a good sized clump form the tiny plant we started with, having just one flowering stem, three years ago

Some new daffodils bought last year, planted with pansies in one of our stone troughs by the back door, is a splash of colour now. Surprisingly, the sparrows have not yet started eating the yellow pansies, which are usually one of their favourites.

To finish this week, is a photo of the quietest residents of Machynlleth in Wales. They looked completely engrossed and made me smile

I shall be back next Monday to share the progress we make during the week towards harvesting and eating this season's crops. Always unpredictable, but always with something to enjoy

Thank you for reading again, and for the kind comments, which are of course very much appreciated

If you'd like to read more about Harvest Monday, have a look here at Dave's hosted pages

http://www.ourhappyacres.com/

and if you would like to contact me, you're very welcome, on:

info@alitttlebitofsunshine.co.uk

and I'll get back to you as soon as I can

9th April - Harvests in earnest this week! Despite the rain, the weather has warmed up, and Harvest Monday is good to go......

Rhubarb: the first picking of the year. The rain has made the stems long and succulent, and the resulting Rhubarb Crumble was delicious

Curly Kale: The remaining three plants have spent the Winter semi-protected under the fine mesh of the Brassica bed, and have perfect unspoilt leaves. A huge bagful cooked down to just enough for four of us to have with Sunday dinner, anointed with butter and black pepper, it was a real treat

Leeks (of course!) : which, together with the first harvest of Wild Garlic leaves, made a well-flavoured cheesy bake

and a handful of sage and some thyme were cooked alongside the chicken

 

 

And there have also been generous amounts of Mustard Greens, to go in with slow cooked beef curry, and this evening's Bubble & Squeak patties cooked by our daughter. Still plenty left for next week, too. This has been growing in the polytunnel since last Autumn and has really earned its place on the list of vegetables to grow again.

Vole tunnels were under the plastic covers on the beds

That is the end of this week's harvests proper, although I did pick a very large bunch of Japanese Spinach, which had started flowering, for our daughter's chickens, who fell on it with great enthusiasm... hardly lasted any time at all! Seemed only fair, as we ate some of their eggs with our Bubble & Squeak, to give them a treat too.

It has been a busy week all round, as with a couple of dry and reasonably sunny days, I was able to dig out more woodchip-compost from paths on #146 and add it to beds on #145 for planting potatoes and onion sets

Second Early Potatoes: Kestrel & Maris Peer, with some extra Charlottes

Maincrop Potatoes: Ambo, Inca Bella, Pink Gypsy, Juliette & Kondor

Onions: Early Fen, Rumba & Red Fen

These three beds have been covered all Winter with black plastic, and the soil was dry enough to work; voles had clearly been living under the plastic though! Lots of barrowsful of compost were incorporated to help break up the clay a bit further, and some Blood, Fish & Bone added  extra nutrients. Masses of worms in the compost, mainly endogeic Green Worms, (which make horizontal burrows that help aerate the soil) although these were a pinkish blue variant. Good to see them.

The end result looks very neat and purposeful, so fingers crossed that everything now grows away well now

On #146 the main path and one of the side paths are now completely dug out, and since I took this picture, re-covered with fresh woodchippings, making for a safe walking surface again. It is a bit odd having "steps" in the paths though, between the old and new areas, so I'll need to make sure I look where I am going

The Globo Onion plants and Lincoln Leeks are now planted out in the polytunnel. The onion leaves flopped a little bit, but I anticipate new leaves will grow up straight. These leeks are a very early maturing variety, and I hope they are alright grown under cover like this. I have never grown these before, so it is a bit of an experiment.

I have opened some of the side vents in the tunnel now: as soon as the sun shines, the temperature rockets, and this certainly seems to have helped keep things cooler

  • Newly planted Globo Onions, sown at the end of December in deep trays

  • Bulgaarse-Reutzen-Lincoln Leeks are not fully hardy and should mature by September

Lettuce seedlings

Back at home in the greenhouse, the peas and french beans sown last week are just beginning to germinate, and the tomato seedlings now have their first set of proper leaves and are ready to pot on. 

The small chilli plants are recovering from the aphid attack and starting to grow again, thank goodness. Some of their leaves are distorted, but new ones are looking fine and I hope they will eventually produce good bushy plants. I shall be keeping a very careful eye on them for sure

The Black Seeded Simpson Lettuces are almost large enough to eat, even though they are still in their modules. There is not space to plant them in the polytunnel border, so they will have to go outside once this spell of very wet weather is over. If I put them out now, though, the rain will batter the delicate leaves.

Sunshine encouraged lots of insects out from their Winter quarters, and it was good to see several butterflies: Brimsstone, Orange Tip and Small Tortoiseshells, along with various bees and beetles.

Here are a few of our visitors this week. Most are very welcome, but the first Lily Beetle of the year means we need to be eagled eyed to avoid them almost destroying our lilies and fritillary plants over the coming months

  • Seven-spot Ladybird

  • Dark Edged Beefly

  • Large Bee Fly

  • Young Nursery Web Spider

  • Frog tadpoles

  • Lily Beetle

So far the fritillaries remain unscathed

The last photograph today is one that sums up the feeling that Spring is truly here, even though it is mainly still raining and for many people the ground is so wet they cannot yet sow a single seed: an Early Bumble Bee on cherry blossom. This tree always flowers so early that inevitably its blossom is damaged by frost, so it has so far never produced a single cherry. It is is however very pretty, and it enticed this bee to feed from it for over quarter of an hour. You could almost see it smiling!

I hope the coming week goes well for you all, and that we have a little more of that elusive sunshine to dry the soggy soil, after the wetttest March and beginning of April on record.

Thank you for reading this week's blog: I shall be back next Monday, hoping having had a few drier days. Who knows?

 

If you'd like to read more about Harvest Monday, have a look here at Dave's hosted pages

http://www.ourhappyacres.com/

and if you would like to contact me, you're very welcome, on:

info@alitttlebitofsunshine.co.uk

and I'll get back to you as soon as I can

2nd April - Allotments are saturated. After our week away I was looking forward to some time on the plot, planting out onion sets and seed potatoes, but NO.... rain of biblical proportions put paid to that plan alright. A couple of quick trips to check all was well was all I could manage, and from the state of the ground there has been a lot of rain in our absence too. Some plots have standing water, and it made me glad we opted for slightly raised beds, and have covered those which were resting back last Autumn, as at least we don't have puddles

Harvest Monday does show some rather nice leeks though, once the liquid mud had been washed off them. No sign of flower stalks inside them yet, thank goodness. These ones are Elefant, and I am glad we decided to grow them again this year, if they stand that well. These ones went into a dish of Parmesan Cheesey Leeks  (Recipes 2017- March) for Easter Sunday's meal, together with cabbage and French beans from our stores, to add to some purchased veggies and a very nice piece of roast beef, cooked in honey and ginger, with rosemary and cider. 

The rosemary bushes are in full flower now, and are providing an early meal to any passing bees, as well as looking pretty

For pudding, we had a version of Bread-and-Butter Pudding made with hot cross buns, which was very enjoyable, as well as being quick and easy to make (Recipes 2018)

Chitting?

I optimistically brought the first earlies through to the bench by the front door today, ready for their journey down to the plots, which of course didn't quite happen. They look a little bit tatty, but have good fat healthy chits, unlike this poor fellow that was languishing at the back of the vegetable basket

Having all the potatoes in the greenhouse at this time in the year is causing a real issue with space. As I couldn't work at the plots today, I spent a happy couple of hours in the greenhouse at home, to the sound of rain pelting on the glass. Having already organised the seeds according to the Sowing and Planting Plan, I could just pick up what I needed instead of spending ages searching through the seed tins. Fantastic!

So now, in modules in the greenhouse, are:

- Peas - Hurst Greenshaft, Terrain and Boddington's Soup Pea

- Sugar Snap: Magnolia Tendril and Quartz

Every year we have grown tall peas, and some of the have been excellent croppers, but on a site as windy as ours, keeping their supports upright always proves a headache, so this year we have shorter varieties and will align the wire mesh supports with the prevailing wind rather than being sideways on like a sail. Sounds a good plan, so fingers crossed it works

-Sweetcorn - Swift

I was going to chit these on damp paper, but it seemed a bit of a faff, as sweetcorn usually just germinates, so they went straight into deepish pots

- Courgette - Parthenon

This is a variety that doesn't need pollinating so is ideal for growing in the polytunnel for an early crop. One plant will be enough as there will be an outdoor crop to come as well

- Dwarf French Beans - Speedy

I grew these in pots a few years ago and they were  prolific under cover. The 5 ins pots were a bit small for them though, so these ones will go into the ground in the polytunnel, when the mustard greens finish

- Basil Sweet Green and Salad Rocket

Sown very thinly in modules, which can be planted out as little clumps of plants when they are big enough

- Celery Leaf

Not grown this before but the idea of celery flavoured leaves was very tempting. The seeds are incredibly small, and were sown sparingly into modules, covered with vermiculite and then put in the propagator. Had a bit of a surprise when I read the seed packet as apparently these are biennials that grow to around a metre tall, not celery-height plants as I had imagined. Hmmmm, a rethink needed as to where they will be planted out.....

The Autumn-planted shallots are growing away, but the leaves are looking very yellow, instead of healthy green, so I gave them a feed of Blood, Fish & Bone last Saturday, when the rain stopped for half an hour. 

The persistant rain, and the snow melt, may have washed nutrinets downwards, away from the roots, so when the weataher allows, I shall feed the onions and garlic too. If this doesn't help, then Sulphate of Ammonia might help, as it will provide an essential building block for chlorophyll, and helps the leaves to green up properly and be more efficient

 

Wild Garlic Leaves

There is "seasonal special" almost ready to harvest: Wild Garlic. This spreads like mad and now we have is springing up on the other side of the path as well, so I shall try to transfer some of these single leaf baby plants to a shady spot on the other plot, so we have another colony. 

The white allium flowers are very pretty, as well as being edible, so it earns its skeep on more thna one front

I shall have to dig out recipes from last year, as well as see if I can find any new ones. All suggestions are welcome!

Another new arrival are the golden flowers of Forsythia. There are several bushes in amongst the hedgerow adjoining our site gate. which are certainly eye catching, and we would love to have some by our own plots to add to our "insect friendy" plants in Spring  

I took four hardwood cuttings last year, three of which have taken and have fresh new leaf growth showing: two of these will be planted along our boundary, and the third is going to our daughter, to plant in the hedge along the side of the garden.

The primroses, gifted to us by a friend two seasons back, have now made large clumps, and their pale flowers shine out from under bushes and alongside the shed. 

This week, to end, here is a photograph I took in Tenerife, of a tree, Schinus molle, called the Pink Peppercorn Tree, which is planted as a street tree in frost free countries. I think it originated in Peru. 

It is not related to the actual pepper plant, which is a climbing vine, but produces hard berries than can be ground in the same way as black peppercorns, with have a fruity, peppery flavour. They are grown as a crop in some areas, needing both a male and female tree to produce fruit. Not our own harvest but one I thought you might be interested to see, nonetheless.

In the coming week, let's hope the rain lets up a bit, so that those of us in the UK can get on with outside planting

I'll be back next week so you can see how we are getting on.

PS I have marked Sow & Plant 2018  which crops have been sown etc so it can be followed more easily. Hope that helps!

OOoh, forgot to say that at long last, a Tiger Nut shoot has appeared. Just the one, but it is better than none. Boy, are they taking their time.

 

If you'd like to read more about Harvest Monday, have a look here at Dave's hosted pages:

http://www.ourhappyacres.com/

and if you would like to contact me, you're very welcome, on:

info@alitttlebitofsunshine.co.uk

and I'll get back to you as soon as I can