Mid March Update

Another four weeks have flown by. We’re still in lockdown but the easing of restrictions is getting ever closer. We have just passed the one year anniversary for most of us who are working from home. I know it’s been so hard for so many people, the mental strain of being apart from other people is overwhelming for a lot of people. I understand it and really sympathise with my friends and colleagues who are desperate to return to something like normality. Personally my new normal is much better than my old normal and I’m not planning on running back to office life, crowds or supermarkets any time soon. As all the first anniversaries are coming round in our Facebook timelines I’m reflecting on how much my day to day life has changed for the better since I started to be at home full time.

It’s good to take stock and notice the changes. They happen so slowly sometimes that it takes a little hindsight to appreciate them. I know my anxiety and stress are under much better control than this time last year. I haven’t increased the dosage of anything that I take to help with that. I have learnt the importance of taking time for myself, even in the middle of a busy day. Sometimes especially in the middle of a busy day. Even ten minutes in the garden catching up taking photos for this blog, for my Instagram account, or to share with friends is vital. A few minutes pottering about, even in the rain, pulling out those annoying little weeds is space in my head that I need to actively make.

It’s been interesting the last few weeks noting the changes in the garden. This time last year the whole pandemic tsunami that barrelled into us was all I was thinking about. I hadn’t really ventured out into the garden very much yet so this year I’m still aware of things I didn’t appreciate last year. The buds on that big bush at the back of the garden that I can’t identify, the grass slowly starting to grow again, the start of the bluebell bulbs in the lawn, all those little plants slowly coming back to life (there are way more of them this year!). The general awakening that is going on out there.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be able to start doing direct comparisons with what I was actively doing out in the garden from one year to the next but for now I’m documenting like crazy for this time next year. My planner is going well and I have seedlings everywhere. Lots of ornaments have been cleared away from their windowsills to make way for seed trays. We’re almost at the point of putting our first plants into the ground outside for 2021. I have over eighty Sweet Pea seedlings in trays that I hope to plant outside in the next few weeks. I’m currently putting them outside for a few hours each day to acclimatise them ahead of getting them into big pots early April. Remember the abundance of sunflowers last year? This year it will be sweet peas.

I’ve also started off some other flowers – echinacea, which I’ve never grown before. Just a few little seedlings poking their heads up so far. They seem to be slow growers compared to the sweet peas. I’ve also just planted cauliflower seeds which are the exact opposite of the echinacea. I may have to move house if they keep growing at this rate and I have no idea where I’m going to put them all outside – serious thinning out is going to be required. They were sown on 13th March. It’s the 17th today. I’m astonished. I just hope you can grow mini cauliflowers in pots because I don’t have enough raised beds if they all make it! I lifted the lid on the propagator this morning and they’d pushed all the soil out of their way to get through to the light. Feisty little buggers.

The onions are looking a bit, well, stringy. We haven’t had any luck at all with onions, indoors or outdoors. I planted some onions in the same bed as the broccoli last September/October time and while we missed the boat a bit with the broccoli (it went to flower while we were waiting for the heads to form) the onions in that same bed are very small and unless they’re going to have a massive growth spurt in the next few weeks I can’t see them ever developing into full onions, maybe just little spring onion type things. We didn’t get any last year either, just tiny little mini spring onions. The seedlings I started inside in February are very thin and certainly don’t look hardy enough to go outside any time soon.

Everything else out in the garden is looking amazing. The tulips and daffodils have started to flower, mostly the early ones I planted in October but the ones that didn’t go in until November are starting to show how beautiful they’re going to be. The crocus are definitely on their way out but they have been invaluable for the bees that have been visiting the garden over the last few weeks.

The lupins that I was quite underwhelmed by last year have taken the winter to have a think and make the decision to be very impressive this year. Already they are massively more substantial than last year and don’t look like the next big gust of wind will blow them away. I’m really looking forward to them this year.

Same with the delphinium that I took seeds from just in case it didn’t return. It has proved me wrong and has had a remarkable comeback. I’m looking forward to planting its seeds in a pot that I will put next door to the parent plant – like a family reunion of sorts.

I almost forgot to tell you about the potatoes. We really weren’t sure about potatoes – we’ve tried them a few times with little success but we’re going to have another go. I bought Charlotte (second earlies) and Desiree (main crop). We’re going to put the Charlottes into the main raised bed. We need to carefully move the perpetual spinach, which is most definitely living up to its name currently in the middle of the bed, then refill the bed with manure and new compost as it has settled quite dramatically since we filled it last year. But once that is done, in the potatoes will go. The Desiree type we’re going to try in bags. We have a big patio area away from the house that gets sun for a lot of the day but because it’s behind a couple of very large trees we don’t really use that area. So it will be Potato Bag Central this year. They can be left to their own devices for the next 6 months or so and will be ideal in this space. We will check them every day as they will be outside of the shed that we keep the bird food in but they won’t be in the main part of the garden getting moved around as we keep adding new plants.

So the next few weeks are going to be very exciting, hopefully with the chance of frosts diminishing every day we will soon be able to actually plant things outside and get our garden haven going again.

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