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Archive for the ‘Sowing’ Category

I  sometimes think I should change the name of this blog to the Lazy Gardener, (watch this space actually….)  My gardening efforts have been regularly rescued from disaster by my husband, a well timed shower of rain (thank you British climate, I could never survive anywhere else!), the sheer persverance of nature and sometimes just pure luck.

It is now on the brink of May and I have so far done absolutely NOTHING towards this season’s crops.  And although there is part of me that feels terribly guilty, there is also a part of me that knows that in the UK, this doesn’t really matter.  Not terribly much growth happens earlier than now, except indoors, and there are always plenty of crops you can get in.

So, my saving graces this year have been:

My amazing darling husband who has been keeping the plot mowed and ‘sort of’ weeded.  He loves his perennials like asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb, so at this time of year he is there more often than me.  I do look after the kids meanwhile, so perhaps I am doing my bit?

The fact that someone tipped me off about the tradition of sowing potatoes on Good Friday.  Inspired by this folk tradition we sowed them Good Friday morning before the heavy thunderstorms of the afternoon.

Also, hubby has been planting his crops of the year, cherry tomatoes (he’e gone for Gardener’s Delight) and butternut squash, as well as some rocket.

As for now, I am frantically sowing sweet peas and beans.  I am also setting up a herb and salad box outside my back door, now we have a space with some light at the house.  I am planting lots of flower seeds accumlated over the last year.  Hoping for a good year of flowers for the house.  And I have bought some fabulous perennials for the garden.  All very exciting.

The lemon tree at the top of the post is now in our conservatory.  After many, many, many years we have got a conservatory which means we can grow citrus plants and indoor bananas.  There really is no way to express how exciting this is for us.  Twelve years ago, Jamie and I lived in a small flat with a huge south facing window from ceiling to floor.  The whole of our very small living space was filled with tropical and indoor plants of many types.  For the last ten years we have watched our once impressive indoor plant collection dwindle.  We still have one hardy yucca and a Musa Cavendish banana from this era, being kept alive in a greenhouse at Jamie’s work.  After a very long wait, they can finally come home!

And now as I sit down for my evening scan of everyone’s blogs, I fully expect to get lots of inspiration for this year. It’s time to put the knitting down and get outside!!!!

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Well into May, and lots to do.  The patches needed weeding, and a lot of sowing and transplanting to do.   Mind you, it’s not just weeds growing, the crops are coming on nicely:

Potatoes growing well

Potatoes growing well

The potatoes are looking great, the peas are growing steadily, and the tomatoes seem to have benefitted from their early season cloches and are well advanced.

Tomato plants with a chilli in the foreground

Tomato plants with a chilli in the foreground

Next step, planting more seeds.  It is now perfect soil for direct sowing.  We put in some parsnip, carrot and sweetcorn seeds, which should provide a late summer crop after the peas and beans have finished.

Peas and beans

Peas and beans

Another pleasant surprise each year is always how well the flowers do.  This year we got our first peonies, and Eden’s rose is doing really well too:

Eden's rose

Eden's rose

All the Dahlias were lost in the frosts, so we have put some more in, along with some lilies for late summer perfume.

Lastly a bit of maintenance was needed.  The tarragon looked as if it might bolt, so we trimmed it right back.   Incomplete harvesting has led to a profusion of ‘volunteer’ potatoes (that’s what you call potatoes left in the ground from the previous year that sprout in unexpected places).  These had to come out but left us with a handful of mini potatoes which will be an intriguing addition to a salad.

Tarragon destined for the freezer...

Tarragon destined for the freezer...

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Jamie has worked so hard since we got the improvement notices, and I think the results will speak for themselves. I didn’t think the plot was particuarly untidy anyway, but I feel as if we are entering some sort of gardening competition within the next 28 days.

Apple blossom in the girls' plot

Apple blossom in the girls' plot

Potatoes

Potatoes have already gone into Stanley Road (Picasso). We chose this type because Paul gave us some of his crop last year and they really did roast well as described. He had got the tip from Doug, and so we guessed they would work well on our soil as well. They were a nice balance between a floury and waxy potato – not too extreme in either direction.

The Perry and George system in action

The Perry and George system in action

Jamie has put them in using the ‘Perry and George’ tried and tested potato planting system. They dig a trench and a mound, ready for earthing up the potatoes. Once the initial plants show through, you just heap the soil over the plants. Apparently this leads to a better crop, and it keeps the frost off the small plants.

Legumes

The second annual planting of the year went in – the pea and bean beds. This year is going to be a rainbow of colour, as I have saved last year’s seed and have bought some new ones to try. There are purple-podded peas and French beans, a rare yellow-podded pea from the Real Seed Company, as well as the green Sugar Snap Pea ‘Cascadia’. As well as the purple peas, I have acquired some interesting French beans, again recommended by the Real Seed Company. These have the rather fascinating name of ‘Cherokee Trail of Tears’ and are an old Native American heritage variety.

Not much to see yet really....

Not much to see yet really....

Sweet Pea ‘Fragrantissima, grown for flowers, finishes off my legume beds. I just can’t wait the month or so till they start to flower. Although I am leaving it quite late this year, I can’t say I am sorry after the spring we have had. I am sure any plants that had gone in earlier would have died or been stunted with the combination of cold and rainy weather we have had.

All that remains tomorrow is to put in some catch crops of salad and beetroot to make the most of the bare soil. Jamie’s tomatoes and peppers are doing brilliantly under cloches. The only worry is whether they will outgrow the cloches before the frosts are over….

Tender plants under cover - is this too early for them to be outside?????

Tender plants under cover - is this too early for them to be outside?????

Planting plan 2009:spring-20091

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Asparagus shoots

Asparagus is one of those plants that it is worth having an allotment for. It is very expensive to buy, and better as fresh as possible. There are two ways to start yourself off with a row. Firstly you can plant the crowns, or it is a little known fact that you can plant the seed as well. I read a tip somewhere that said seed will produce as quickly as crowns, because they are the more vigorous F1 hybrid varieties. Always eager to put a theory to the test, we bought some asparagus seeds.

Two weeks later, hey presto:

Sucess!

Sucess!

I have also created a list of all my seeds, and when they need sowing etc.

flower-seed-plan

vegetable-seeds-plan

Herb and salad sowing plan

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Jamie has been at the allotments all weekend. A pattern is emerging where I tend to look after the girls while he does the hard graft in the cold/rain/wind, but he is keeping me up to date on progress – photos to follow.

Stanley Road – he has uprooted most of the raspberry canes, which were too close together through overenthusiastic planting last year. These have been transplanted to the Warren which will have most of the perennial fruit. This leaves blackcurrants and the Christmas tree in the back bed at Stanley Road. Stanley Road will have the crops that need more maintenance, and strawberries are the main fruit on the patch.

The Warren – the row of raspberry canes has been planted in much more space, and in honour of this, our first fruit support structure – I will have to wait and see this next weekend. There are already three or four well established damson/plum trees on the plot (we will wait and see exactly what they are), along with a gooseberry.

Seed planting: We need to get going on the seed planting. The coldframe at the Warren will be really helpful to get things started. I am waiting for this latest cold snap to pass, just in case we get a repeat of the severe frosts that have been commonplace this year.

Coming soon:
A plan of the whole two plots, with crop rotation diagram.

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