May 2021

31st May - Tomorrow is the first day of Summer, and at long last the weather is much more seasonal, with today being the hottest day of the year so far! It has been a long, cold Spring though, and outdoor crops have been slow to grow, and I am really glad I have the protection of the polytunnels to give earlier harvests.

Harvest Monday this week has some "firsts" and some "lasts" on the table, so let's see what there is.

First up are the joint two newbies: Broad Beans and Mangetout, both totally delicious, and at their absolute best cooked very lightly and eaten unadorned 

 

This is the first "proper" crop of Spinach, enough to actually cook as part of a Meatball & Spinach Curry, rather than a few leaves to add to salad.

I still have some Spring Cabbage  in the polytunnel, and this one was really good steamed and served with butter and black pepper, a lovely delicate flavour

I managed to cut another few Asparagus spears this week, certainly the last for this year, and very tasty they were too!

Here are the first Potatoes of the year! I do have a confession though: they were not from my plot, but from another grower along another lane, who kindly gave them to me. He planted the tubers two weeks before my polytunnel ones, and kept them under four layers of fleece during that really cold time, taking this off on rainy days and replacing it each night. 

Very good they were too!

Other harvests this week include Radishes, Lettuce and Beetroot Leaves

Out On The Plots This Week:

Having suffered badly from the chill wind, the Climbing Beans, Tomato plants and Celeriac are showing signs of recovery now. The Bean plants were all at odd angles, and some leaves look as though slugs or snails had been busy, so I have tied their stems gently to the poles to life them up out of immediate further damage. I planted French Marigolds around the edges of the beds, which looks pretty, and I am looking forward to these small plants growing into neat cushions of orange and yellow during the Summer

The Cauliflower, Calabrese and Summer Cabbages however were perfectly happy and have grown away really well. Round them though, the weeds also grew apace, and with such wet soil, hoeing wasn't practical. Today though, with much drier conditions, I managed to clear the weeds from half the bed before my energy gave out, and the size of the plants is then really appreciated.

The reason I was so tired was linked to the situation with my compost bins, as Bin No 1 was still half full with compost while Bin No 2 is bursting at the seams with compostabe material. Bin No 3 is full of compost ready to use.

This has meant that all the recent weeds and other compostable materials have been sitting around the plot in large builders' trugs , with nowhere to go

So today, I dug out as much of the compost from Bin No 1 as I could, into two large builders' bags, a third full each... any more in each I would be unable to drag them along out of the way until I can use this. This meant the new front for Bin No 1 can be attached properly, so that even if rats do dig about inside it won't come off. Plot-neighbour Gary has kindly said he will do this for me later in the week. 

The follow up will be that all the buckets of weeds can be put in, together of course with plenty of shredded paper, and the "overspill" balanced on top of Bin No 2 can go in as well. The front of this bin can then also be securely attached, leaving only Bin No 3 with an ill-fitting front. This can be sorted in the Autumn when the contents can be shovelled out and used.

The compost in the builders' bags is destined for two beds over on #146, those for the Winter Brassicas, Squashes and Sweetcorn, as well as the spots where Courgette plants will go.

It was good to have plenty of home made compost though, to fill the new herb troughs. I topped it off with some bought in stuff, to try to reduce the germination of the inevitable weed seeds. 

These new herbs are all ones to make tea: Pineapple Sage, Lemon Verbena, English Peppermint, Chamomile and Five-Leaf Ginseng, plus a new Variegated Lemon Thyme to replace the one that died this Winter. The one I am unfamiliar with is the Ginseng, which, from the twirly whirly spring-like tendrils, I guess to be a climbing plant, so I planted in inside the Cucumber shelter alongside the Sweet Peas. There is still plenty of space for Cucumbers on the weldmesh frame.

If the Mint gets too hot being so exposed, I shall move the trough down into a more shady spot. There was also space on the stand for two deep pots of Dwarf French Beans, which was good, as I was looking for somewhere out of the way, so I wouldn't trip over them

It looks quite tidy again now, and there is enough space for the plants to spread a bit too during the year. Pleased with it so far

This year, the Bearded Iris plants are full of buds, and some are already beginning to open. These pale blue ones are from my Dad's garden, and they were always open in time for his birthday in mid-June. Over the years, they have started to open earlier and earlier, and even this year they have some flowers open on this last day of May

They have a lovely sweet perfume, which in the warmth of the sun can be appreciated several metres away. I divided some of the tubers two years ago, and with the extra plants this has given, I am hoping for a beautiful display soon

In the Autumn I planted lots of Dutch Iris bulbs, with the idea that I would cut these for a vase at home, but they look so good amongst the other plants that I may leave most of them there to enjoy. They are certainly proving to be good value, as the whole bag cost less than a pound.

The Bluetit family from the back of the shed opposite my front gate fledged this week, all fluttering boldly down into the Hazel hedge. Well, not all, as one seemed determined not to leave, holding on to the edge of the nesthole for ages, and being fed by its anxious parents, whilst a Magpie eyed them up... then I realised that the fledgling's leg was caught on something inside the nest box, trapping him hanging upside down, unless he gripped the edge of the hole

I carefully folded the little bird's wings in to hold him still, and managed to pull out the thread he was caught on, wrapped round his leg with my other hand. It was very fine, and although I snapped it quite easily, a tiny bird had no chance.

With some help from plot-neighbour Jane and my trusty little scissors from the multitool on my keyring, we managed to get the thread off and leave his toes intact. I returned him to the hedge by the nest box, where his parents were still frantically calling. The Magpie left when I went back, thank goodness, so I hope he was safe

It felt like a real privilege to be able to hold such a tiny creature, and was for both Jane and I, the "good thing" of the day

In The Polytunnels This week:

It has been so good to feel the heat in the tunnels when I open the doors in the morning, rather than anxiously scanning the thermometer to check how cold it had been that night. Plants are perking up and some of the Tomatoes now have open flowers, and the Diva Cucumbers have some flower buds too. I had two more Tomatoes given to me today by another plot holder, together with two Sweet Pepper plants and two West Indian Cucumber plants. These will go inot the other tunnel, to try to make sure they are far enough away from the Divas that they are not easily cross pollinated, so hopefully avoid bitter tasting fruits

The Okra plants look pretty sorry for themselves though, and I was in two minds as to whether to sow more. The donor of the Cucumber plants has just sown some though, and said I could have a few plants if I need them, which is looking very likely!! 

 

The early Potato plants are growing really quickly now, and I am giving them plenty of water. No sign of any flowers yet, but I would expect them to show in another two weeks' time

Pea plants are wasit high, and are flowering away, with plenty of pods forming. The Mangetout are more productive than they looked to be. All those tendrils do make the plants look rather scruffy, so unless they give a really heavy crop I may not choose these again. Have to wait and see

At Home This Week:

The poor weather has meant the Squash and Sweetcorn plants have stayed under cover at home, and the flowering plants are still in their pots. The Gherkin plants brought back home haven't really recovered from the cold spell in the tunnels. However, the change to fine sunny days will hopefully mean I shall be able to get on with renovating the sundial bed and surrounding space in the coming days. Plants and containers are ready to go!

The grass needs cutting, the path needs weeding, some shrubs need a bit of a trim, and the Hostas need re-potting, so now that the plots are feeling much more under control, there should be time to do at least some of this work in the next few days. I hope so!

The jobs list last week was actually to span at least two weeks, so I shall highlight what has been done, and add to it as needed in a rolling list.

- weed the remaining two + one Onion beds, the early Brassicas,the Asparagus bed, the permanant Kale bed and the space for Outdoor Cucumbers

- thin the rest of the Carrots and Parsnips

- sow more Amazon Spinach, alongside the Runner bean frame

- find a suitable spot to plant out the Sea Kale plant

- clear the bed where Squashes and Sweetcorn will be planted out, and add 5cm of compost: plant up

- add compost to bed for Winter Brassicas, plus some BF&B, firm soil well, plant PSB plants and rebuild tall netting cage

-pot on Winter Cabbages

- plant the new herbs into troughs

- find homes for remaining Chilli plants

- move remaining compost from Bin No 1 to a large builders' bag, and replace the front so it can start to be re-filled with compostables

- thin Beetroot & Turnips in polytunnel

- Sow Swede and Basil at home

- check progress of Okra at the weekend,  and decide if another sowing is needed 

and now add:

- weed Onions in polytunnel

- plant out Early Leeks

- pot on maincrop Leeks into 18cm pots, ten per pot

- plant out Sweetcorn in polytunnel

- plant out Winter Squashes and Sweetcorn in prepped bed

- prep areas for Courgette plants and plant these out

- plant out Hollyhocks and Cosmos on plots, and remaining Tomato plants in pots

- sow more Radishes in a spare space somewhere!

- plant Day Lilies and Doronicum in Sundial bed

- refill Alpine troughs and plant up, topdress with grit

- give Hostas new pots, add copper tape around the rim and fine mesh over drainage hole to try to keep of slugs and snails; topdress with grit

- repot Bay tree on top patio

- cut grass in back and front gardens

- make a start on weeding the path

So... lots to do, but it is always a challenge at the time in the year to keep everything well maintained, even more so this year with the very unusual weather we have had recently. Next week I'll take out the things highlighted orange, and highlight instead what I managed to do during the week ahead. It'll hopefully help me not forget anything! 

I'll be back next Monday so you can see how things have gone!

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

24th May - This May has so far been pretty chilli and very, very wet indeed, making juggling the growing and planting out of tender crops for the Summer a real challenge for us all, with Tomato plants turning blue with cold and Bean leaves crisped in the bitter winds. Every year is different, but the differences now seem to be getting greater with each year that goes by. 

Last week was a turmoil of hailstorms and thunder, just to add to the fun. I do hope as we move into the start of Summer next week, conditions for growing improve across the country

Harvests are changing though, with Sprouting Broccoli now finished and a wider variety of plants available for salads and stir fries

So... Harvest Monday, here we go:

Mixed Salad this week has included Oak Leaf Lettuce, Lollo Rosso, Wild Garlic Leaves, Purple Sprouting Broccoli,Coriander, Flat Leaf Parsley, Red Amaranth, baby Broad Bean pods along with Cherry Belle Radishes.

A new ingredient though is Ground Elder leaves, a plant rumoured to be brought to the UK by the Romans, today often  a pernicious weed in flower beds, rather than seen as a food plant. A conversation with my grandchildren reminded me it is edible, and their description of it's flavour as "like an unripe Mango" is very accurate. A few plot holders have been surprised how good it tastes, and it certainly makes an  unusual addition to a mixed salad. A quick bit of research showed it can be used in quiches, scrambled egg, stir fry and muffins too, so you may see it here again

Wild Garlic Leaves are coming to the end of their best, so I must remember to make sure I make some pesto pretty soon. This week's harvest went into these Wild Garlic and Cheese Scones, which were made from  a National Trust Recipe. They were really tasty. I usually just pat out scone dough, hence their rough appearance, but if you prefer yours with smooth tops, then use a rolling pin

Asparagus crowns take ages to get to a size where they produce enough spears to harvest ad still allow enough to grow on and build up to a size for large harvests, but as they can be productive for around twenty years or so, it is worth coddling them along.

This is is the first of the three fat spears from the oldest crown, which was planted in Spring 2019 as a "yearling". All the others are a year younger, and so I am letting all their spears/stems grow this year

It was delicious with sliced Avocado, Radishes and mayonnaise

Out On The Plots This Week:

The wind and hailstorms have take their toll on the newly planted Tomatoes and Climbing Beans. They needed to be either potted on or planted out as they wouldn't have coped in small pots for a further week, but they are not looking as bad as they might, so with the hope of warmer weather on the horizon, they might pick up soon

All the rain of course helped the weeds grow and grow and grow, far more than you would think possible in a week, so dealing with them is a priority now. The outcome is a vast amount of compostable material, which there is no space for in Bin No 2, whilst Bin No 3 is full of ready-to-go compost. Bin No 1 of course is still being unloaded. The grand plan is to move this into a large builders' bag so I can put the front back on and start the re-filling. The useable stuff can then go round onto the Squash & Brassica beds as soon as possible. It feels like I really need four bins, but I can't fit a fourth one in. I do have three Daleks behind the three pallet bins, so I shall have to investigate the contents to see if any could be emptied now too. Great probelm to have to be honest... lots and lots of lovely free compost to feed the soil and all its millions of micro organisms and invertebrates, so it can grow good healthy food

I weeded part of one of the Onion & Garlic beds this morning, and the Onions, which are Autumn planted sets, are just starting the bulb up. The Yellow Senshyu grown from seed are looking much more lush, and the Paris Silverskin sown about ten days ago have germinated. At least they have not been short of water!

The Strawberry plants in troughs on the table are full of flower. I just hope we have no more frost to kill these, as happened to lots of the previous ones

The supports are up for the Climbing Beans, and thank goodness I braced them well, or they may well have collapsed last week. There is space along the middle which gets plenty of light until the Beans reach the tops of the sticks, so I planted half a dozen Lettuce seedlings a couple of weeks back, which are growing well, and sowed some French Breakfast Radish seeds as well, and these have alreday germinated.

There is also space alongside the frame, where I can sow a row of Spinach. This will be well watered as the Beans will need plenty of water as they grow. The short row of Amazon is doing well, with plenty to harvest now, so I shall use the same variety here too.

One job I really don't enjoy is thinning out Carrots, Parsnips and Beetroot, especially when the also need weeding at the same time! I tackled the Cylindra Beetroot this morning, as well as half of the Carrots and Parsnips. Weather permitting, the rest should be done in the next day or two. If they are not thinned, there will be more roots, but much smaller ones, which may grow more slowly through lack of space, so.... thinning it shall be

The Asparagus is growing really well, and most plants have survived the Winter. For all except one, this is their second year, so I am looking forward to a small harvest to enjoy next May. One plant is now three years old, and has grown three huge thick spears to eat, which I hope is a sign of things to come. The next ones that grow I shall leave, to help the crown increase in size for a bigger crop in 2022

Last year I grew Tomatillos for the first time, and they were really successful, so this year I have gone for a giant variety, and three plants rather than two. I planted these ten days ago and they seem to have stood the weather better than the Tomatoes, and have some lovely big yellow flowers already

 

In The Polytunnels This Week:

The extra protection stopped the Tomato plants shivering, and the Aubergines, Peppers andChillies seem OK too.  Their roots should have settled in a bit now, so I expect to see some new growth soon

The Broad Beans are taller still, but the new growth is also flowering, and the lower flowers already developing pods, which is good news. I hope they give a huge crop over several weeks

In the other tunnel, the Pea plants are developing pods and the Mangetout at last are flowering. They have lots of tendrils and few leaves; not sure of this means they grow more slowly without leaves to feed the plants. Time will tell

At Home This Week:

The Squash plants seem to have weathered their rapid potting on just before I left last Monday. As soon as they have a couple more leaves I shall start to harden them off, so that in two weeks' time they can settle into their bed out on #146, together with the Sweetcorn. I hope by then temperatures are less challenging for them

When I was a child, I enjoyed newly grown, tender Sea Kale leaves from the local beach, but these days the area they grow is a protected Site of Scientific Interest, so clearl that would not be OK. However, when I visited Hardy's Plant Nursery today, really to see the display they would have taken to Chelsea if it had taken place this May, I spotted some small Sea Kale, plants. Of course one came home with me so I just need to find the perfect spot for it on the plots, so it can flourish

And this is a view of the show garden, which was absolutely gorgeous, and well worth a visit

During Summer 2019, my youngest granddaughter painted some garden snails' shells with pink nail polish marks, so she could recognise them again. She took them to different parts of the garden, so she could find out of they returned to where they were found to start with I saw a couple of them last year, near where she had let them go, but this week a different one turned up outside the back door, right where it had been collected from. It had travelled the whole length of the garden over the past two years!  Bearing in mind the all the snails were already adult size, so were at least two years old then,this one has to be over four years old now 

 

The Garden Tiger chrysalids are hatching out, although so far there has not been a male and female moth arrive at the same time, which has rather scuppered my plans for breeding these to boost the local population. There are a few left, so I am still hoping......

Jobs For This Week and Next Week

- weed the remaining two Onion beds, the early Brassicas,the Asparagus bed, the permanant Kale bed and the space for Outdoor Cucumbers

- thin the rest of the Carrots and Parsnips

- sow more Amazon Spinach, alongside the Runner bean frame

-find a suitable spot to plant out the Sea Kale plant

- clear the bed where Squashes and Sweetcorn will be planted out, and add 5cm of compost

- add compost to bed for Winter Brassicas, plus some BF&B, firm soil well, plant PSB plants and rebuild tall netting cage

- plant out Kale and Romanescu plants from Clive

-pot on Winter Cabbages

- plant the new herbs into troughs

- find homes for remaining Chilli plants

- move remaining compost from Bin No 1 to a large builders' bag, and replace the front so it can start to be re-filled with compostables

- thin Beetroot & Turnips in polytunnel

- Sow Swede and Basil at home

- check progress of Okra at the weekend,  and decide if another sowing is needed 

I shall try my best to get through this list, as everything seems to need doing at once right now! The weather is forecast to be a bit drier, which should help. Fortunately the list is wideranging, so I might be able to avoid further knee damage by having several on the go at once.  I can but try!!

Hope things are going well for you in this unusual weather. We all have to hope that at the first sign of warmer weather, crops will start to grow rapidly. 

See you next Monday!

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

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

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

www.ourhappyacres.com

10th May - suddenly the night time temperatures are well above zero, and more tender crops can start to be planted out in the polytunnels, or with some extra protection, even outdoors. The rain was welcome, because the soil was incredibly dry, but the hail stone storms were less welcome, especially if you were outdoors!!

Harvest Monday has a new addition with the first baby Spinach leaves. These look so good I am tempted to sow more, but as the year moves on, there is such a wide variety of leaves for salad, it may be sensible to wait until the end of the Summer, when there may be more space available too

Harvests this week have been a bit slim, with Purple Sprouting Broccoli on the very end of its bounty, and some old regulars finished altogether: Purslane and Tender Stem Broccoli for example. Rhubarb continues to give lovely juicy stems, Wild Garlic still has cuttings to come, but the most enjoyable for me has been the increase in the variety of salad leaves available now: Wild Rocket, several different Lettuces ,some Spinach, with just a few Red Amaranth leaves and Coriander Together with Cherry Belle Radishes , it makes a very tasty side salad

I am looking forward to those first teeny Carrot thinnings soon, as well as more Spring Cabbage and Spinach

This Week Out On The Plots:

The best laid plans sometimes fall apart in the face of unexpected happenings. This week the compost bins demanded attention, with the front of Bin No 2 coming adrift, spilling compost all over the paving slabs. I could hardly ignore it, especially as at the clearing of spent crops results in masses of compostable green material, which needs somewhere to go! I have already had to start unloading the adjoining bin due to the attentions of a rat, so with Bin No 2 now at crisis point, that all became a priority.

Now, Bin No 2, has a firm front once more, and is bulging with all the fresh greens and shredded paper added to the top. Looks good, and feels satisfying, but..... the contents of Bin No 1 are gradually being barrowed away and spread in different areas, and it doesn't loo especially tiday right now. 

Next on the list is the bed where outdoor Tomatoes, Celeriac and Sweetcorn will be planted, as well as the Tomato beds inside the polytunnel, so plenty of work there.

The compost is good, dark, crumbly stuff, just right for feeding the soil, amde even mre spcial because it has been created from what may have been perceived as rubbish: weeds, choppe dup spent crops, kitchen waste and shredded paper... fabulous!!

Our Pheasants are noticeable by their absence; now that they are paired off and nesting, they are keeping a low profile.

Other small birds however are busy feeding fledgelings, like this little Robin, who has a youngster on the ground, alongside this trug

It is lovely to see them all so busy, and I am sure it won't be long before they are laying for a second brood

Next steps for me, apart from moving compost, are weeding on both plots, and sowing some more Radishes to try to keep up the supply

This Week In the Polytunnels :

It always feels a little sad when the remaining Winter crops are cut down for composting, but the bare soil is full of promise, with plenty to look forward to. All that is left in this tunnel are some Spring Cabbage, some Celery and Parsley that survived the Winter, plus the gorgeous -looking Broad Beans, covered in sweetly scented flowers, wich, of course, are staying!

 

 

 

The Okra plants were ready for planting out, but the extra windy weather we are having isn't going to do them any good, whistling through the polytunnel vents, so I  made a fleece cloche to give them some protection until they start to grow again after their root disturbance

I've not grown Okra before, but I was told today that another plot holder, who I don't know very well, successfully grows these every year, so I shall be searching him out for some advice

There was just enough space left to plant out the module-sown Beetroot and Spring Onions. The Beetroot will need thinning... and these thinnings can be transplanted too... but I didn't have time for that today. They just needed to be out of the modules, as the roots had filled the space, otherwise they would stop growing and start to get spindly

At Home This Week:

The greatest effort this week has been the twice daily move of all the Tomato and Aubergine plants etc from the greenhouse to the garden in the morning, and back again in the evening. Necessary if they are to adjust to the conditions outside and continue to thrive, but the most laborious job of the year in my view!

It enabled me to do a bit of a stock take with the Tomatoes, sort out what I shall be planting out, and what was available for others: all now passed on to new homes, apart from my Son-in-Law's, which will go with my on my next visit That cleared a lot of space, meaning I can now pot on the Squash plants and have enough space for them on the staging. You can see they are ready for a move!

 

 

Jobs This Week

- pot on Squashes and Courgettes

- move bean plants to polytunnel to finish hardening off

- plant out the early Leeks (Oarsman)

- pot on the later Leeks, 8-10 in a five inch pot

- topdress soil in polytunnel beds for Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Chillies and Aubergine  with compost, and plant these

- plant out remaining Lettuce seedlings along the front of these beds

- Sow Basil and Swede in modules in the greenhouse

- Sow Radishes outside in centre of Bean bed, and alongside Lettuces in polytunnel

- clear and prep the bed for outdoor Tomatoes, plant these and erect temporary wind protection

-plant out any remaining flower plants in the polytunnel, including the Hollyhocks and White Cosmos

- weed Carrots, Parsnips, Beetroot and Spinach on #146, and the Autumn planted Onion bed on #145

The big jobs are those that involve barrowing compost: the others are not too onerous so hopefully I shall be able to get all this done this week. I'll give it a good go!

I aim to be back next Monday, maybe even with the compost all moved... le's hope so

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

This Week Out On The Plots:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

In The Polytunnels This Week:

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

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

 

At Home This Week:

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

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

 Jobs for The Coming Week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Start to plant out early Leeks 

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

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

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

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

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

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

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

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

www.ourhappyacres.com