The garden is changing every day now, with plants finally starting to break into leaf, coaxed by the warm sunshine that makes everything and everyone feel better! The spring bulbs are still looking beautiful with the white Anemone blanda creating a carpet of bronze, parsley like leaves that set off the charming white flowers. They are seeding gently and I will never knowingly pull up the seedlings – they can do no wrong in our garden! The multi headed Daffodil ‘Thalia’ makes a cool picture beneath the spring flowering Viburnum carlcephalum soon to unleash its sweet scent from flat clusters of greenish white flowers which the bees love! The white Grape Hyacinths too are poking through the soil – knobbly green buds deep in the centres of the grassy leaf clumps.
Many of the evergreen shrubs are still sulking after the damage from winter gales but there are signs of life with tiny leaf buds swelling, so soon I will be able to prune off the worst of the brown twigs and feed the plants with some chicken manure to encourage their new growth.
The allotment is drying up at last and I have been able to do some digging which is testing my back! The onion sets are still in their bags at the moment- I usually manage to get them in right at the beginning of April, but this year will be a little later and it will be interesting to see if a later planting will make any difference to the harvest time. My potatoes are still chitting in egg boxes in the spare bedroom and have sturdy shoots but will need to wait a while longer before they are planted out!
Although I like to grow my vegetables from seed, I would like to get ahead with some crops to make up for lost time once the soil is ready. Last year I bought some ‘Iceberg’ lettuce from my local Notcutts and they did very well. I do not usually grow these, preferring the loose leaved ‘Lollo Rosso’ type which are quicker to mature and can be harvested by picking a few leaves at a time – ideal when there are only two of us! My local branch of Notcutts again has a range of vegetable plants which have been grown in packs (similar to bedding plants) and this range changes all the time depending on the season, so I will buy some broad beans, lettuce and maybe a few others to experiment with as well!
I always buy my courgette plants - a packet of seeds would give us too many for the space that we have and Mrs McGregor would never keep up with using them all! Runner beans do not like to be sown in cold soil so now I sow them in pots at the beginning of May and keep them in the greenhouse or utility room until they have germinated. They are then moved onto the patio (with plenty of organic slug pellets!) to grow on until they are large enough to plant out at the end of May when hopefully there will be no more frost!
For now, it is too early to think about courgettes and runner beans so it’s back to the allotment to carry on with the digging!