Ready, steady, sow
Well, Easter at the end of last month and the beginning of this was not the best for gardeners, but luckily since then the weather has improved and finally I think spring has arrived.
Whilst the weather was not good enough for many sowings outside I still had plenty to do in the greenhouse , pricking out (transplanting) seedlings, potting on chrysanthemum cuttings and plugs of various plants as they arrived and the greenhouses are now full to overflowing.
At this time of year I always erect a cold frame on the patio, this is home made from planks of wood (previously a fence) and three Dutch-light glass frames on top. Cold frames are very handy as plants can be moved into these to gradually harden off and at the same time keep the plants short and stocky until they are ready for planting. The frames are opened early each morning using a block of wood to create an air gap. If the weather turns cold overnight they are closed and if very cold or frosty covered with an old blanket to give added protection. I wouldn’t be without mine as they will be in use right up until early June when all the bedding has been planted. When it is empty once more I will take it down and store for another year.
Two weeks ago the soil on the vegetable plot had dried out enough to plant out my onion sets and seed potatoes. The well chitted potatoes were planted in trenches lined with compost and had a little potato fertiliser added. I also planted a row of Jerusalem artichokes in front of the compost heap as these grow tall and will hide this structure, plus when in flower will resemble small sunflowers.
The only seed I sowed on that same day outside was a row of radish , this was done as a test to check how quickly they germinated to know if the soil was warm enough, as sowing small seeds into cold soil only gives poor results.
I think finally the soil is now warm enough to sow some of the smaller seeds, meaning I am busy this week sowing beetroot, carrots, parsnips and salad leaves. I have pea Twinkle plants up and hardened off ready to plant out this week and at the same time I will sow another row of peas that will be ready to harvest in 12 -14 weeks and will make a tasty companion to the first potatoes that should be ready to lift around that same time.
In another week the early sown brassica and lettuce plants will be hardened up enough to plant out on the plot.
The last summer bedding has just been sown – cosmos, marigolds and zinnias – these have already started to germinate 3 days after sowing and are ready for pricking out into trays.
Out in the garden I have painted all the garden fences so they create a tidy backdrop to my borders. The daffodils, both miniature and larger flowered types, are blooming well at long last. The perennials in the garden are really moving and have benefited from the tidy up and loosening of the soil last month.
Hostas are just starting to shoot into growth in the borders and are slightly more advanced in the containers, which have all been top dressed with fresh compost with a little long-lasting feed added to it.
Polyanthus and violas are flowering nicely in borders and containers and the wallflower buds are just starting to break into colour.
This is certainly a busy time of year with so much to sow, plant and look after at the same time and I still have the lawn to scarify.