One of my friends asked me for an update on the seedlings I posted about last month. So as I’ve been waking around 6am of late and it seems pointless to just lie there when there are a thousand and one things to be done outside and the sun is streaming in through the window and chasing me out of bed, yesterday morning I shrugged on some clothes, grabbed my camera and headed off across the dewy grass to show you how they were getting on. Picture heavy post…
Some of the seedlings out in their beds: this is mostly salad at this end and the netting is ugly but vital – chickens’ feet can dispatch a horribly large number of baby plants in a surprisingly short period of time…
At the other end of the bed are two crops of broad beans, aiming for successional harvests. I sowed the second crop in the plug trays as soon as I’d finished planting out the first in this bed and when they were seedlings they went out next to them. I didn’t think it would make a huge amount of difference as they were similar in size but since the warmer weather the first ones have shot away so it was worth doing apparently.
The “baby” cabbages that are in fact almost a year old (still haven’t explained this stunted beginning, I know) They are doing OK now though after a traumatic start in life.
Celeriac – under scaffolding nets to stop those scratchy scratchy hens feet again.
The spuds are coming. But oh dear, this is where the weeds are laughing at me. The battle commences…
Onwards and upwards. Literally. My lovely Golden Hop which I was given years ago and put in the wrong place. It fought it’s way through rogue raspberry canes and survived being dug up and split and generally pushed around every which way. It’s now growing through the bottom of a most inelegant black plastic bucket because I plonked it next to the garden hoop structure a few years ago and there it’s rooted so that’s that. And finally it was able to produce a decent quantity of hop bines last year which I cut and arranged across the mantle in my kitchen. Which was the whole point of getting the darn plant in the first place.
The onions seem to be doing OK despite it being the bed of choice for a bantam bust up on more than one occasion. How the chooks didn’t snap off the fleshy shoots I don’t know. And the “weeds” in this bed are some of Phil’s “moocher” potatoes. Hmm. Think I’ll leave them for the moment.
The soft fruit is doing it’s thang too. This past spring I actually did something about all of our soft fruit, dug out my pruning book and pruned appropriately for each plant (at least I hope I did) and tidied up around them and dumped a load of wood ash on each and every one. Nothing much daunts the redcurrants and whitecurrants though whether neglected or pampered. Every year they are laden with dripping jewel-like berries and every year the blackbirds get every damn one. Unless I net them in time.
I never forget to net the blueberries though. I love them. I love the flowers, I love the berries and going out each morning to pick some to go with my breakfast when they are in season and I love the stunning shades of red and purple the foliage turns in autumn. Blueberries, blueberries, the bees are all over them at the moment so lets hope for a bumper crop!
I also like to munch on alpine strawberries. A few years ago I grew some from seed and they fruited so well for several years. The last 2 years they’ve been spent though and I missed the tiny aromatic berries that taste so much more strongly of strawberry than any berry so tiny has a right to. I bought some more seed this this spring and in my eagerness sowed the entire packet of dust-like seed. Going to be interesting finding space for all these babies. But find it I will. Alpine strawberry jam. Mmmmmmmmm…
Herbs are doing Ok too. The coriander is in the beds, I have a few dill plants coming along and here are the all-important Flat Leaf Parsley boys should a certain brother come home for a visit. It is a vital ingredient in his cooking. And I wouldn’t miss his cooking for all the worlds, it’s awesome.
and I’m also really happy about this little chappie too – or chappess really. It’s Melissa or Lemon Balm and it’s self seeded from a plant I had a couple of years ago. I found it growing in the gravel on my hard standing area and carefully potted it on and it’s doing great.
The leeks seedlings have been pricked out and are growing on into plantlets and soon I will dust off the dibber and plant them out in the beds. I love leeks, all the fun of garlic and onion without the socially challenging after effects… ;0)
And so onto the next crop of seeds coming through. Runner beans (because my first batch of seed was really too old and failed) and the squashes. I’ve learned to hang fire with sowing these. They hang around all dressed up and with no where to go if I sow them too early and nothing grows faster than a curcubit with the promise of endless room to stretch it’s tendrils out it so now it’s sow ’em late, warm ’em up and let ’em romp I say. I grow two varieties of courgette – Nero di Milano which is pretty reliable and a dark green colour and Ok taste and Albarello di Sarzana which is paler and flecked with pale yellow speckles. It tastes divine but is less hardy and sometimes the blossom ends go mushy so I have to keep an eye on the fruits. But then you always have to keep an eye on the fruits with courgette because if you turn your back to sneeze you have monster marrows on your hands before you’ve turned back again.
Later brassicas. Calabrese – which most of us call broccoli when it’s in the supermarket and Romanesco cauliflowers which really look like pointy spiral broccoli and are lime green. They tastes awesome and I can’t decided if I like it more than calabrese. I definitely like it more than regular cauliflower which I do like but has an unfortunate aroma in the close confines of a kitchen…
Sweetcorn. If you haven’t had a home grown sweetcorn cob picked, peeled, wrapped in tinfoil and chucked on a BBQ before it’s had time to shriek “Nugget!!!” then you’ve not really tasted sweetcorn. Corn on the cob was my birthday meal of choice when I was a kid, my birthday falling in prime corn-on-the-cob season and liked it dripping in butter with salt and pepper. But if you BBQ it, you can eat it nekkid. It doesn’t need a thing with it (except oven gloves maybe…)
And a few sunflowers. I don’t think it’s really fair to have a competition for the tallest sunflower with these dudes. It’s pretty obvious who’s likely to win.
All this glorious sun over the past week after quite a bit of rain has made everything – plants and weeds – shoot away and it’s hard keeping up and that’s making for long old days but it’s lovely to see things growing. I once read that it’s better to do things at the right time than to do things well with gardening. Normally I’d be stressing about doing it perfectly but really, it’s so true. Better to bang them in and get them growing than to leave them languishing because it’s not all perfect. I’m really trying with that this year. So far it’s working!
I’m not the only one who’s pleased to see the sun. Miss Mousey better not stay rolling around in the sunshine too long though, there’s a rodent patrol to keep up with out there. Mice and rats decimated what little I was able to grow last summer so I really hope she’s got a paw on the situation this year!!
And finally the flowers. In the vein of “getting things out there growing” I’ve cleared as much of the grassy weeds on the flower bed as I could in two back breaking session and planted out the flowers that mum and I had sown and pricked out earlier – they were all getting a bit strangled and yellow. I am not a flower gardener although I love cottage flowers so it will be interesting to see how this turns out. Mum optimistically said it would be a riot of colour but I’ve paid scant attention to the final size of some of these so it could be a bit of a mess!! Next year. There’s always a next year. Some of these are scented too and are outside my bedroom window so I’m hoping that they will give some lovely evening scents in due course like the lilac blooms are doing right now.
And because a garden is nothing without insects (and more specifically in this case our honey bees) I’ve also been helping my mum by knocking up some frames for her. This appears to be a very swarmy year (is there any other kind of year with bees??!) and mum has had a couple of swarms already despite working carefully though the hives to try and keep on top of this before it happens. She’s not alone, a few of my beekeeping friends have also had swarms to deal with. I am keeping a low profile since I became allergic to them a couple of years ago and had to give up working them and now mum looks after them with help from a friend. I don’t really miss it, I have more time to so the garden, crafting, animals and building without having to chase bees up and down trees every few days. Luckily mum really seems to be enjoying getting back into beekeeping and I’m very happy to do the bits I enjoy – putting together frames and extracting honey. And eating it of course!! ;0)