April 2020

 

27th April - Another week of sunshine, which has made our time in Lock Down, now moving into its fifth week, a little more bearable at least. The round is very dry and most growers have had the watering cans and hosepipes out, but rain is forecast in most areas of the South tomorrow, lots of rain, spreading Northwards from Wednesday, which will be welcomed by the plants, if not by those out for their daily walk.

This week's header photo is of the first Rose Chafer Beetle of the season here. I love these slightly dozy-looking beetles, which are harmless, feeding on pollen. Their larvae feed on dead or decaying matter, including rotting wood, so are one of Nature's "recyclers". They take several years to grow to full size, so I always imagine the adults feeling a sense of wonder as they hatch, transformed into a thing of beauty as they are. maybe that is why they look bewildered! I spotted this chap on the Tamarisk tree by the plot gate, as I was leaving today, and gladly unpacked my camera to take a portrait.

Usually these appear here from May onwards, so this year's "first" is a week earlier than usual

Harvest Monday:

This week, I took no photos of my rather meagre harvests, but I thought you might like to know what these have been:

Wild Garlic Leaves

Lettuce - Winter Density, outside leaves from young Cos, and Salad Bowl

Radishes 

Rhubarb (Of course!!)

Spring Cabbage

Spearmint

Parsley

Rosemary

Chives

Fennel Leaves

Calendula Flowers

On the Plots This Week:

Watering has been important, as seedlings are likely to die in baking sunshine otherwise. A good soak, rather than a sprinkle, is needed so the water goes down to the roots, rather than evaporate from the surface. I have also watered newly set out plants, such as some of the Chives,and of course Brassicas. I even gave the potatoes a good soak, as the soil was dry down to about two inches. That rain forecast will certainly be welcome!

The Tamarisk tree is at its best now, making a lovely sight as I drive up to the gate to the plots

And along the back boundary, the Hawthorn hedge is in full bloom now too, with their perfume filling the air for quite some way in such calm conditions. These plants were bought as a bundle of very unpromising sticks, taped together in a five inch pot, reduced to a silly price in an end of season sale a few years back. An extremely good buy!

And round by the seating area, this Columbine has a mass of pretty flowers

The newly planted Asparagus crowns are almost all showing a new shoot now (plenty of water for them too), and the three planted last year have two or three, albeit very skinny ones. I hope they continue to develop well during the season.

The dry conditions have meant the little pond has needed to be topped up regularly. As our water is from the bore hole, it is fine to use the hosepipe, and the tadpoles always look as though they are enjoying the cool fresh water

In the Polytunnels This Week:

Despite the windows being open all the time, the temperatures have rocketed, and humidity has been high, but at night, with clear skies, temperatures have plummeted to around 4-5°C. It has been tempting to plant out Tomatoes and Peppers, but I have hung on for a bit longer, in case frosts are round the corner. After growng them with such care, it would be such a shame for them to have a set back like that

The Peas and Mangetout have flourished though, and the little Cos-style Lettuce Lobjoits planted as tiny seedlings two weeks ago are large enough to harvest the outside leaves already

Both the Broad Beans and Peretual Spinach are growing rapidly, and most of the bean plants are full of flowers

And the Brassica seedling potted on a week ago are also doing well. Ideally I would have these outside, but at the moment i have nowhere safe from pigeons they can go... a job for the coming week to set up a netted coldframe, so these can have somewhere cooler to grow on.

And the first little mauve flower opened today on the Rocket Potato plants... I am resisting furtling for another week

At Home This Week:

There has been some re-organisation in the greenhouse again, this time to make space for the potted on Winter Squashes and other Curcurbits. Several readers have asked what I am growing this year, so here is the list:

Winter Squash: Sunshine, Autumn Crown, Butternut Hercules and Honeyboat

Courgettes: Zuchine, Golden Dawn and Sure Thing

Cucumbers: La Diva

The beans are all up and waving, but it is a bit soon for them to be planted outside, so I shall be giving them a dose of feed in the coming week to keep them happy. Hopefully it will be warm enough outside to start hardening these off. The Chinese Red Noodle Beans and the Edamame Beans are already in the plastic greenhouse, and seem to be coping just fine

The Aubergine plants will be staying firmly inthe greenhouse, nice and snug. They are looking heathy and I don't want to upset the temperamental little dears

The Tomato plants destined for the plot are ready to move to the plastic walk-in greenhouse during the day which will be a bit of a squeeze. Some of the current residents lie the Tarragon, Salad Leaves and Lobelia plants can come out though, which will help.

It really is one big juggling act at this time in the year!

 

In the garden, the Lily-of-the-Valley is out. It smells so good I brought some indoors to enjoy their scent. This was one of my Mum's favourite flowers, and there was a carpet of it in their garden underneath the Honeysuckle hedge. I remember being in dreadful trouble one year as i picked one of the large red berries which come after the flowers. These are very poisonous, and I had to wash my hands in really really hot water three times over as a result!

The big yellow Tree Peony (P lutea) is looking good with its lovely serrated lime green leaves and brilliant yellow bowl-shaped flowers. It towers over the Camellia, where flowers are beginning to fade now. It does need careful management to ensure it stays within its own space, but is worht the effort. It does caoe true from seed so I often have seedlings to share, which is good

The Tulip Challenge of tulip flowers out from February through to May is still a possibility, with thsi multiheaded Rembrandt-style one, in red and yellow. Just beautiful. I hope they will flower again next year

 

The main job this week has been to renovate the arbour in the garden, which had become very shabby, with the roof broken, rotting and weighed down with masses of Ivy, and the structure itself stained with algae, as well as the two-seats-and-a-table that lives in it looking the worse for wear and feeling very "splintery" to sit on

So.... here it is now, ivy free, with a new roof made from recycled fence wood, all painted with green shed paint, and the Victorian tiles scrubbed to within an inch of their lives, both with Pathclear and then with Jeyes Fluid. Their colours show up well now, and although there are still some black marks on them, at over 100 years old they look pretty good. I need to thank Clive for giving me some Pathclear and John from two doors down for volunteering to nail the slats on for me. The little white Moroccan-style solar lanterns are back up inside, now instead of shining through holes in the roof at night, the light reflects out into the garden. I need cushions now.......

You never saw such a mass of Ivy, taken off the roof and from behind the back. Some went to the Council's landfill collection, and the rest is piled at the allotment site until it rots down...which may take a very long time. I didn't want to burn it as Ivy contains toxic saponins, which I am unsure if these may be released

I have also emptied out the rather dismal looking pots by the front gate, and plan to grow vegetables instead of flowers in them this year for a change. After all Runner Beans were grown as an ornamental climber here before anyone in the UK ate the beans

I hope everyone is staying well and keeping safe. I shall be back next week, all being well.

PS A hedgehog has ben visiting the garden late in the evening!

 

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/

20th April -  Many people are finding new ways to spend their time, 28 days into lock down.  I have spotted neighbours painting soffits and barge boards,  bricklaying, fence building and clearing out of garages, with several people telling me they were thinking of making some veg beds in their garden or growing in pots. Our allotment site has rarely been so busy. All good, and making sure life remains as positive as possible. Everyone is of course ensuring social distancing is maintained, and hand santitation is the order of the day.

Life is quiet though, and like others, along with missing family and friends more and more, I have time to do quite a lot, in my case, mainly linked to vegetable production, but also sitting admiring the apple blossom...just look at the glorious Bramley tree today... drawing, painting, bread making (of course) and baking

Harvest Monday is a little thin on the ground this week though, as we are in that space between the Winter Crops and the late Spring/Early Summer crops, but nonetheless there are a few veggies to share.

 

First to the table is Rhubarb, a real favourite with me. This week I made some Rhubarb Gin, a tray , baked with crystallised ginger and some gently cooked and served with plain yoghourt. There is a bumper crop this year, and lots of neighbours are enjoying it too

Then there is more Five Star Perennial Cauliflower, a side shoot this time but still good to eat alonside soe chicken and roast potatoes

And Spring Cabbage is also good with roast dinner too. Although these haven't yet built up much of a heart, the outer leaves are tender and tasty, steamed and served with butter and black pepper

I have also harvested Perpetual Spinach, Chives, Spearmint, Looseleaf Lettuce,Wild Garlic Leaves and Basil

At the Plots This Week:

A day and a night of decent rain, and everything is growing strongly . The Potatoes are well up already, but as there is no frost forecast I have left them to grow on without further earthing up.

All the Onions are putting on a bit of a spurt, and so are most of the Shallots. A few have barely stated growing roots though, but I am leavng them in and hope they just make a run for the line later in the year. I took this photo yesterday.. there are no weeds now after my plot visit today. The Garlic is looking healthy too, but if they are to grow to a good size they will need regular watering if we have spells of dry weather

Usually I leave the Leeks growing in a  deep tray until they are planted out, following me harvesting the First Early Potatoes. It often means they are quite crowded, so this year I am trying growing them on in large pots for a few weeks. Hopefully it will result in larger Leeks in the end

I also potted on the Brassicas sown three weeks ago, as these will be planted out as follow-on crops later in the Summer: Monclano Calabrese, Lodero Red Cabbage, Cordesa Savoy Cabbage, Kilaton Ball-head Cabbage, Lancer Mixed Sprouting Broccoli (white and purple) and Darkmar Brussels Sprouts. 

I usually do jobs like this at home, but it makes sense to take them to the plot, where there is plenty of space, water on hand and clearing up much easier.

The clearing up ths time sort of expanded though, so emptying and cleaning the three cornered bath I use as a dipping water source, and it is now squeaky cleaned filled with fresh water, and all the surrounding flag stones are scrubbed clean too. Much less slippy when wet and much nicer to look at too

And there are stiil large numbers of bees in and out of the bee-tubes all day long!

In the Polytunnel This Week:

The big job has been to clear and prep the bed for planting out the onions grown from seed. It took a while to chop up the broccoli and kale plants for the compost bin, but not too long to incorporate some compost and seaweed meal into the top inch or two of soil.

Most of the plants are Ailsa Craig, and six are Globo, both of which are verieties that can grow quite large, so a comparison will be interesting

At Home This Week:

All the beans sown a week ago are on the move! They unfurl from under the soil like so many small aliens, and every tray has at least some that have poked their heads up. 

The Winter Squash plants, Courgettes and Cucumbers are now in the greenhouse too: I am expecting them to grow quite quickly and need new pots within a week. I have delayed sowing these this year to try to avoid large plants in the greenhouse, which inevitably get damaged, and I hope having smaller plants to set out means they settle in more quickly too

The Sweet Pepper plants are now out of the greenhouse and in a small plastic grow-house. The ones on the lower shelves don't really get enough light and so I move the trays outside during the day

The Tulip succession in the garden seems to be working well, and this next round is one that was Abi's favourite, so there is a sadness to seeing them, but at the same time, enjoying their crips beauty. Still the multi-headed ones to come

This is a much shorter blog entry this week, as the slightly frantic sowing time is almost over: Sweetcorn still to come next week, but plenty to do at the plot of course!

I hope you are finding time to spend outside in the garden, and enjoying growing lots of crops too.

Keep safe and stay well. I'll be back next week, hopefully with plenty more photographs to share

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/

 

13th April - As we move into the fourth week of Lock Down, the slower pace of like is bringing some positives, despite missing family celebrations at Easter time and the company of friends. Neighbours treated me to a barbecue meal delivered to my windowsill, chocolate eggs and little chocolate rabbits... all so much appreciated right now. One big positive of course is more time to spend on doing what you choose, witihn the limitations set to reduce the spread of Covid-19, and for many of us is gardening and growing.

Harvest Monday this week has some "firsts" of the year, as well as the "lasts" of some of the Winter crops. 

 

 

First to the table is a Spring Cabbage, perfectly timed for Easter. These are a variety called Durham Early, growing in the polytunnel and so protected from the extremes of weather, and are hearting up well. They don;t store well, so I shall be eating my way through them fairly quickly, which will also create a space for a Courgette plant to grow during the Summer

And then there is enough Spearmint growing now to harvest more than a few leaves for tea, and the fresh MInt Sauce was really delicious. All the various Mints that I have growing in tubs between the polytunnel and a shed are bursting back into life, and i am looking forward to having lots of choice in the coming weeks

I have some seeds of Corsican MInt, which is mat-forming variety, so I hope I can get it to grow well enough to eventually colonise part of one of the paths, and possibly the cracks sbetween the bricks in the path at home

I had a surprise haarvest of a small Cauliflower, not from a regular plant but Five Star Perennial Cauliflower!! I was gifted a few seeds of this fairly uncommon plant last year, along with some of Daubenton's Perennial Kale. They seem to have thrived during the Summer and here is a really tight little cauliflower. I am now wondering if the plant will develop tiny cauiflowers on side shoots, in a similar way to Sprouting Broccoli. I do hope so!  The plant is really quite close to those kales, so I might have to try to move them so that they all have enough space. I hadn't realised they would get so large

 

There have been some other harvests too:

The last of the Parsnips has now been dug and eaten.  I have however left three palnt in the ground to grow on and flower, so that I can collect fresh seed for sowing in 2021. They year that I inadvertently lift a root in the ground, which did flower and then set seed, there were Parsnips coming up all over the place the following Spring! Fingers crossed this works now it is a deliberate choice to grow them on to flower

Purple Sprouting Broccoli has had a last minute run for the line before desperately trying to flower, and there was a hige harvest this week, shared by several families. It may be the end of it... we shall have to see

The last of the Kohl Rabi were harvested this week too. They were certainly a bit tougher than early harvests, but cut inot matchsticks were good in stir fry

And of course Rhubarb, not just for me but anyone who would like some! Just having it genty cooked with a minimum of sugar, or roast with crystallised gnger, is taste of Springtime to me.

And MIxed Salad Leaves and Basil are still being cut regularly from trays and modules growing in the greenhouse

On the Plots This WeeK:

AS this week wore on, I started to feel the plots were mor elike mine again, with most areas looking reasonably tidy and crops beginning to grow... Carrot and Beetroot seeds are germinating, Parsnips started to come up, although the bed being somewhat mauled by what I think was a fox from the footprints mean they may not be brilliant, and the new Rosa Rugosas all showing fresh growth at last. The new Asparagus crowns are planted and the Wildflower bed has pretty much as many plants as is sensible

The Wren's nest is till occupied, so the birds haven't been put off by me working close by, and th emale sings his terretorial song from the top of a bush a few metres away. I managed to take a photo of him, which is of course the opneing one this week. They do not fly directly to the nest, but often arrive at ground level  and the silently hop up the slats of the trellis as though going up a ladder to the hole in te nest box

There was a mass hatching of Bees from the Insect Hotel this week, quickly followed by lots and lots of bees trying to access the holes to start laying the next generation of eggs There are several species of Solitary Bees using them, including The Rd Mason Bee, and the Wool Carder Bee, which can be seen here taking some fibres she has collected into the nest hole. Fascinating to watch them all at such close quarters

And opposite my plots, the Chicken Club Girls have been enjoying the sunshine, as well as relishing the discarded Tenderstem Broccoli plants I popped over the fence for them yesterday.  They are fairly elderly ex-battery hens, who are certainly enjoying their later years pootling about round their home plot, chuckling and chuntering away as they stare down into the pond at their reflection in the water

The sunshine has also brought out lots of butterflies, including one of the harbingers of Spring, the Orange Tip. They lays their eggs amongst the flower heads of Hedge Garlic, often known as Jack-by-the-Hedge, and also Honesty. I alway leave a patch of Hedge Garlic for them, and hope for lots of Honesty plants, and this year there is an abundance of their purple flowers in variuos places around the plots. This bank of them is in front of the Rhubarb, and I have spotted the butterflies feeding from the flowers, so I hope they also use them to lay eggs amongst

THis time in the year is often called Blackthorn Winter, and when you see the billowing displays of Blackthorn flowers in the hedgerows, this makes sense. This is the view from the plot gate

 

 

Drectly behind the other plot is an area in which plotholders have been putting their prunings, old bits of wooden pallets, part rotted timber etc, and there was a huge pile of it. nowing there will be no waste collections of any kind by the local Council, we decided that burning it whilst it was tinder dry, made sense.

Hosepipes at the ready, maintaining of course safe social distancing, it was ignited. Flames roared up almost immediately, but within a few minutes, with no smoke or drifting pieces of burning twigs, it dies down to knee high flames, Plenty of people continued to carefully feed it with old bits of wood they had lying around, but once everyone had burned anything they needed to, it quietly smouldered out. A good job well done,with no danger to property or to people's breathing. I noticed this morning there are already further random pieces of wood arrived on the black and ashy circle on the ground.

 

I took the time this week to paint the front of the shed facing the tunnels, as it was looking dreadful, and I hope this helps it last a bit longer. I still have the back to do, but other jobs rather overtook me, so it will wait for a few days

Every year, I am disappointed by my Damson havest, despite plenty of blossom. This week though I heard that they don't really start to produce a good harvest until they are old trees. I had thought of taking it out, as the whole point of having a Damson tree is to harvest Damsons after all, but as mine is only 14-15 years old, I shall remain optimistic and it has a stay of execution

As the wind starts to blow the white petals off the Pear and Plum trees, swirling like so many little snowflakes, the Apple blossom starts to open.

This little tree was on #145 when we took it over, but sadly not only leaning at a 45 degree angle, but also right  in the middle of the area where we wanted to build raised beds. Abi, ably aided by our Daughter-in-Law Catherine, dug it up, carefully rootpruning it in the process, and replanted it upright, alongside our new trees, in  orchard area. It was very well staked, with what on our plot have come to be known as "tree bandages", strips of teatowel material, tied so that the tree rootball would  not move.

It has been well watered each Summer, standing strong in gale force winds, but has had small leaves, few flowers and only allowed to carry two or three apples, which were quite small..... and now look! A beautiful display of pink and white blossom!! 

If it does set lots of fruit, I shall be thinning it right down so as not to over-tax the tree, or risk only having a harvest every other year. It is a really early fruiter, hence the early flowers with  a lovely big red and gold striped fruit. I hope this year there are some to share, especially with Catherine!

It makes me hopeful for the two trees I rescued last year from a plot clearance, that had been uprooted and badly damaged

Soft fruit is also starting to flower, eary Strawberries, and the Josta Berry, which is buzzing with attentive bees.

Which reminds me I need to weed that great long fruit bed!!

In the Polytunnel This Week:

The Broad Beans are starting to flower now, and growing it alongside the Perpetual Spinach seem to be making very good use of the space

The remains of the Winter Radishes are now out, and Raab planted in the bed. I left in the remaining Red Salad Bowl Lettuce, as they will be eaten before the Raab spreads enough to need to space

Beetroot, Spring Onions and five Cauliflower plants are also planted out now. There were several self-sown  Antirrhinum plants that had grown over the Winter, and I replanted these outside, although I have left the two plants, which look like Asters, as they are quite large and I am not convinced they woud survive a move

The Lettuces planted out a few weeks back, are starting to grow more quickly, and the Radishes, now that they are thinned out, should start to fill out their roots

The seed-grown Onions are large enough to be planted out in their bed now, so one of the main jobs this week will be clearing this and getting it ready for its new occupants

At Home This Week:

It is that time in the year when the greenhouse is already almost full, but things need potting on, more seeds need sowing and there is just not enough space, plus it is still too cold, especially at night, to take tender plants to the polytunnels. I took the bubble plastic insulation down, but it was so glaringly hot I immediately put up the shade netting, which improved things hugely, as did being able to open the windows again. 

Once the indoor Tomatoes, the Aubergines and Sweet Peppers were potted on into 5 ins pots, the outdoor Tomatoes into 3ins modules and all the beans sown, plus the Lobelia seedlings, Salad Leaves, Basil and Tarragon plants, this is what it the inside looked like. 

So... having bought a small plastic "walk-in" greenhouse last Autumn in a sale, I thought it time to put it together. It is quite flimsy, but I anchored it well at the bottom with heavy pots of dahlias (which might appreciate the extra shelter) and guy-roped the top to the fig tree and the clothes pole. The transparent cover also now has shade net on the inside to protect plants from the full heat of the sun, just like the main greenhouse

Each morning I do that well known growers' dance of "In , Out, Shake it all about" to move all the large Tomatoes, Salad and Basil out to the new accommodation, and then, in the early evening, back to the snug greenhouse.

This means the plants all get enough light, and can stay far enough apart, to hopefully not get too leggy. It will not be warm enough at night for them to be in the polytunnel for another three or four weeks at least. I am hoping they will not outgorw these pots before then. 

Once they have adjusted to this routine, They can sit outside during the day and the Pepper and Aubegines will use the little house during the day. Well, it's a plan!

Mass seeds wo too: Climbing Beans including some for drying, Dwarf Beans, Edamame, Chinese Red Noodle Beans, Cucumbers, Courgettes and Winter Squashes.

In the garden, I took out several years' worth of dead Kerria stems, then tied up the enormous yellow rose, The Pilgrim, with those famous tree bandages, using the stout trunks of a Viburnum as support. It left a large empty gap though so I am moving the now-renovated bird table there. It is just propped there so I could see how it will look... it will be straight when I have finished though. I do have a Winter Flowering Clematis to add, as the roots wil be shaded by the birdtable and it can scramble through the rose stems, so I shall plant it in the next few days

And this morning, when I looked out, the new red leaves of the Acer have started to open, making a huge dome of colour, just beautiful

 

Just as at the plot, the Apple blossom is starting to open, including this little tree which has small, brilliant red apples with pink flesh. I would give it space juts for the flowers!

This has been a long entry today, but it has been a busy week, with lots of sunshine to enjoy, bt very satisfying. THis coming week may be less busy, but I shall need to keep any eye on the squash seeds in the poropagator, as once they germinate they will need to move to the greenhouse .... in whatever little spaces I can find

Life is different right now, and may never be the same, but I hope you are well, stay safe and enjoy yout growing if at all possisble

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/

6th April - with Lock Down in place all we can do is get our heads down and get on with our isolated lives. Several people have asked about the signs on our site gates, so I am posting photos of them here so if anyone needs to use them they are welcome. It is definetely acceptable to take a short journey to the plots, as long as it once in the day only, and, as you can see, expectations of responsible behaviour are clear

Interestingly, despite the limited social contact (at a distance, clearly) most people are keen to make this work, and keep our site running smoothly in the absence of any external support. We have already set up an unused plot as a bonfire site, so that anything unable to be composted that can be burned, can be dealt with safely, and active encouragement to take home plastic waste such as seed trays and empty compost bags and put them in their own bins. The major leak in a water pipe was fixed in a fairly imaginative way by two plot holders, without having to leave anyone with no access to water, whie the gate and padlock must be the cleanest in Britain, with people being rigorous with ensuring these stay that way, both as they arrive and as they leave. All in all a better start than we might have had for our site

 

 

It has been suggested it would be sensible to take with us either our Allotment Site Card, or a copy of this year's invoice for rental, in case anyone else is stopped on their journey by the Police. So far, this seems to have only happened once, and as the journey was beng made was food related, it was perfectly alright

And as providing food is a large part of what allotments are about, so let's move on to this week's Harvest Monday. 

Carrots were my main crop this week. I needed the bed to plant out Calabrese, so out they had to come, a much better  "left over" crop than I expected! There were enough to share of course, but plenty to store in the fridge in a Stay-Fresh bag. I made sure they were properly dry before putting them in the bag, as I have found this significantly lengthens their storage life. I made a Potato & Carrot Pie , mashing them together and binding with egg before baking, although unfortunately the first lot of carrots were burned as I got sidetracked. Luckily there were more available!

I haven't taken many other photos of harvests this week, although Parsnips, Winter Radish, Curly Lettuce, Wild Garlic Leaves, Mint, Purple Sprouitng BRoccoli, Curly Kale and of course Rhubarb, have been gathered

On The Plots This Week:

 As well as planting Calabrese out, Summer Cabbage and Cauliflowers are now in the ground too. The soil was well firmed by treading, as this helps the plants grow healthily, forming hearts or heads, and each plant was set in a hole up to their leaves,  initially filled with water (called puddling in) with a few chicken manure pellets to provide extra Nitrogen. 

Each bed is now covered with fine mesh, to keep off insect and avian pests, and the plants have settled in and started growing already

Lots of the seeds sown recently are starting to germinate: Summer Radishes, Carrots and Turnips. I had a peek under the plastic covering the Parsnip beds and spotted what could have been two seedlings just poking up, so fingers crossed these are the vanguard.  

I focussed on weeding, and then on sowing flower seeds: Cornflowers and Calendula amongst the Roses and Daffodils,  plus Cosmos and a mix of annual varieties in the other two beds.

Today I put up four wigwams of sticks for Climbing Beans, maybe a bit early, but it is good to get organised

The deep box for growing Carrots is now in place, duly filled with compost mixed with vermiculite and sown with Sweet Candle seed. I bought this net cover in an end-of-season sale last year, and it fits reasonably well over the tub, and will keep out the dreaded Carrot Fly

 

The Plum and Greengage tree are now in full flower, looking really beautiful and feeding dozens of bees and other insects, which I hope will ensure a good crop of fruit to follow

The Pear trees are absolutely smothered in blossom, and this is now fully open. The very cold nights mightaffect it badly though, some flowers are alreday looking suspiciously black in the middle

In The Polytunnels This Week:

The Mangetout plants are now in the ground alongside the Peas, and the space for Dwarf French Beans prepared. Some small Lettuce seedlings are lined out there for now, as by the time the bean plants are ready to go in ...they have not even germinated yet... a lot of the Lettuce will have been eaten

The next job is to clear the adjoining space for planting Raab seedlings. This will be another fast-maturing crop, which will be followed by further Lettuce and Spring Onions, plus a row of Beetroot.

Sitting on the staging there are trays of Spring Onions, Raab and  Beetroot, as well as Onions in small individual pots, all looking healthy and slowly growing. I have to remind myself it is only the beginning of April and it is normal for

In the second tunnel, the Potato plants are getting on for 15cm tall under their protective cloches, and now need earthing up. GIven that temperatures at night in the tunnel itself have been below zero several times this past week, it just shows what extra protection is being provided by those cloches, as the growth is green and healthy, not frost-blackened.

Spring Cabbages are beginning to heart up, just as the Tender Stem Broccoli is coming to an end. There are still plenty of Purple Sprouting Broccoli shoots developing, with plenty to share

Now that the Summer planting plan is up to date, I know where Cucumbers and Chinese Red Noodle Beans are going, so I can put up their support nets in this coming week

 

At Home This Week:

The seedling Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergines have doubled in size already. I am taking off the side section of bubble plastic from the greenhouse during the day to increase the amount of light they have, which I hope helps them avoid growing too leggy. It also means I can access one of the windows to open it, and that, together with opening the door a little, keep the temperature down, especially when the sun is shining

The Brassica seeds I sowed last week have already germinated, and taking the time to space them out across the compost was worthwhile, as they have enough space to grow on for a while before needing individual pots

The outdoor Tomato seeds, which were in the heated propagator, have also germinated and are now in the greenhouse, where the light is better. This has freed up propagator space, so Squashes will be soon sown

With such lovely sunny weather, I have spent a lot of time in the garden, where one small bed has been completely renovated. It hadn't been dug over for at least 20 years, and had developed a large dense colony of Creeping Buttercups and Spanish Bluebells, and as you can see, plants that had been sitting on the patio waiting to be planted are now looking pretty good

Today's effort was to remove the Ivy part covering a small patio, creating a space where I can keep three of the grafted Tomato plants I have ordered, with some protection from a litle plastic "grow house". I have moved a bench and re-organised pots too, and the area is looking much more attractive and purposeful than it did this morning.  Photos will follow once the grow house is up

 

 

 

While I was clearing up at the end of the job, a large frog hopped out from the shrub bed, and across the patio. I was a bit slow with my camera, and ended up with this very odd photo, which I thought you might find amusing. She looks like she is wearing rather fetching striped pyjamas

I do hope that you are all managing to get outside into the garden, and enjoying sowing some seeds, anticipating delicious crops in the Summer.

Thank you for reading this week's blog. This Easter weekend is going to be very strange, as it is usually a time when we get together with family and friends, but this year, tat certainly won't be happening.  I am planning to cook a (fairly small) piece of lamb and have a traditional Easter lunch, even if it is by myself, and also make some hot cross buns, which I shall be able to share with neighbours, delivering via the garden gate food exchange point ... my gift received today in that way was Beetroot Chocolate Brownie mmmmm.

Try and plan ahead to give yourself little things to look forward to and enjoy (seed sowing, painting, drawing and finishing planting up the pots in the garden are on my list) Above all, stay safe and 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/