Here we are in April. The spring bulbs have been glorious. I planted crocus, tulips and daffodils back in October and November and they have been so beautiful. They’re nearly all gone now but we’ve had 6 weeks of fabulous colour. I think we’re going to dig up the bulbs and store them away till Autumn and then plant some of them out into the lawn. There are a few late tulips which are just pushing through now, a month later than their companions, not sure why this has happened but I think we might be just about to get another wave of colour.
Nothing new has gone outside yet because it is still very cold with frost warnings several times a week. My window sills are still full of seedling trays. I don’t mind, I love to see them close up. I check on them all every day and it’s such a joy to see them starting out.
So here’s a round up of what I have in progress currently. First things in were the onions. I’ll be honest with you – I’m not hopeful they will ever make it outside. They’ve barely changed in a month. There was a rogue Cosmos seed in the soil with them. That’s now been put into a pot of its own and looks suspiciously like it’s going to flower any day soon! The onions are still just sitting there. Doing very little.
In stark contrast are my cauliflowers. They are amazing and very beautiful. I am determined to repot a number of them into little pots and keep them indoors so I can watch them develop on my window sill. I have far too many and they need to be thinned and planted out. Hopefully this week we will have our final two raised beds (more on that later) and I can plant 6 to 10 cauliflowers into a raised bed for a winter crop. Then the rest I’m going to have to cull so why not try a few indoors?
The Cosmos I deliberately planted from the seeds I collected last year are doing well. I think I have about 24 seedlings currently and I’m going to add another tray this weekend, as a backup, and hopefully to keep flowering through to December like they did last year. I think a few more weeks in the seed trays then it will be time to pot them up into individual pots. Hopefully we’ll be past the risk of frost by the end of April.
The Echinacea and Dahlias had a slow start but are growing steadily. Definitely end of April before they can go outside, again in individual pots.
The Delphiniums are not cooperating. Absolutely no sign of anything in either of those trays after about 10 days. Maybe they’re slow starters. I’m not giving up – there’s a long way to go yet.
The spinach is due to be moved early next week if it warms up – a friend is making us some new raised beds and I have a plan all drawn up for where all the veg will go. We bought a Family Favourites veg patch from Rocket Garden which will be here some time in the next month. We bought a lot of plants from them last year and it was all excellent so we decided to be brave and buy a huge collection. Probably far more than we have space for in the raised beds but you know, I don’t care. If it doesn’t fit in the raised beds, I’ll put it in pots. Or I might experiment with one bed completely over planted and see what grows well together. I know that crops that you cut and come back to can be planted much closer together as you can always harvest their leaves to make more space.
We have a lot of lawn space not being used and while a lot of it is in shade most of the day, there are pockets of sunshine outside the spaces we’ve reserved for the raised beds. I also have a lot of plastic boxes that can be easily moved around, I see them as little tiny portable raised beds and if I plant carefully in them they can be used for salads and such like.
The sweet peas are benefitting greatly from the pinching out I was advised to do. They are growing strong and bushy, still a bit tall and I can’t give them any support in their seedling trays, but I think next week I might try planting some of them outside. I have a lot of seedlings so I can afford to experiment with 10 or 15 to see how hardy they are. I’ve bought some trellis and we have tons of branches chopped from our cherry tree that I plan to make wig wams with for support.
We also filled two new raised beds this week. These are quite shallow and ideal for quick crops like lettuce and spinach. We put some leaf mould and cardboard in the bottom and lined the sides then filled them up with compost and manure. This year we’re going to let the soil settle before we start planting. Last year’s beds settled so much – we had no idea the level would drop to that degree so armed with that knowledge we’ve packed these beds down and will be topping them up again before we plant in them. This is the part of the reason the spinach needs to be moved so we can turn and top up the soil in the original bed. They’re also stuck in the middle of the sunniest bed (everything around them long since harvested) but I know they’ll grow in less sun so they’re going to be moving over to the empty beds behind them which are a little closer to the hedge and afternoon shade.
We’ve taken down the netting we had over the strawberries and broccoli. We need to re-think this approach – the netting needs to be much lower – it was way too high last year and very difficult to get in and out of which is not ideal for strawberries – I plan to be in there picking strawberries all summer so I need easy access. I might have a go at some home made cloche type things as the bed isn’t a standard size and I’ve struggled trying to find cloches that will fit over the whole bed.
This is a very exciting time of year – lots of new hope and plans and expectations for the growing season ahead. I feel so blessed to have this little pocket of nature to take care of. I will make mistakes, I will over plant, over water, forget to water, under feed, over feed, forget to dead head, curse the pigeons but above all I will learn. I will grow with my garden and get peace and joy from my garden. And that’s something to be grateful for.