Beautiful Days of Spring

After what felt like a never-ending winter, spring sunshine finally arrived in bucket loads. The warm weather encouraged us outside, allowing plenty to be done in the garden including planting more fruit trees. The garden is very wide and open towards the centre, we decided to give the garden a more enclosed feel to give a little more privacy and what better way than planting trees! The orchard gives the chickens lots of safe places to dart should a bird of prey watch them from the air.

Pink apple blossom are beginning to open on our older apple trees while the soft white blossom of pear and plum are just finishing, fading to brown. The blossom attracts lots of bees and of course the fruit will feed an array of wildlife, not just us.

Other planting has taken place too including the potatoes, hurrah! I’m a bit lazy when it comes to potato planting and have planted them for many years a bit no diggy, just a wiggle with a stick really. I place them out on the surface of the soil and then using the handle of a broken spade (you can use anything you can find that’s similar) I create planting holes by pushing the stick in the soil and wiggling it around. I drop a seed potato in each hole (chits up!) and cover over. Easy! Earth up as the leaves appear, I just simply mulch the surface with compost. Job done. Due to the weather we’re a bit late planting our second earlies this year, they went in just days before our maincrop.

Peas raised in modules were planted out at the end of March with more going outside a couple of weeks later, a covering of fleece at night for a bit of protection from frost and cold winds. Frosts and cold night time temperatures have been frequent this month, more than I can remember for April. Carrots and parsnips have only just been sown in the last week, much later than we would normally, but again, temperatures haven’t been favourable. We always cover rows with tunnel cloches until the seeds germinate which works well, so they should be fine. Beetroot seedlings multi sown in modules are outside now after being hardened off, they were very leggy and didn’t seem as strong as usual so I wasn’t very happy with them, back ups have been sown in the greenhouse in case they fail to thrive.

The soft fruit area was extended recently but won’t be ready for planting this year, there were a couple of gaps in the older area so we planted a new blackcurrant bush, variety ‘Big Ben’ and a whitecurrant, variety ‘White Versailles’. Inside the greenhouse I planted dahlia tubers into pots at the beginning of the month, most are sprouting (just a couple not showing any signs of growth) so at night I cover them over with sheep’s wool garden felt which keeps them extra snug and safe from slugs that may be lurking in the deep and damp corners of our rickety old greenhouse!

This year we sowed our tomatoes much later than we usually do (bit of a late theme going on in this post), April 6th to be exact but I think this has actually worked out much better. We have only just potted them on, usually by now we’re grappling with tall plants with flowers that are hungry for more nutrients and in desperate need to go in the greenhouse, which is still too cold at night at the moment. We keep our tomatoes in the house until night time temperatures are favourable, usually end of May. This years plants will be much easier to look after and hopefully happier, healthier specimens that haven’t been knocked back by being pot bound and starved of nutrients in the weeks running up to late May. They always fruit well for us in the end but they do suffer a bit at the beginning, just to get that head start. It’ll be interesting to see how our tomatoes do this year.

The prolonged cold spell at the start of the growing year put us off reaching for the seed packets, so this is what we plan to do more of this week even though cold winds and rain have returned. The greenhouse is cosy and everything will catch up, including us.

Wordless Wednesday

apple tree garden hen ex battery hen eggs in a wicker basket hens in a garden light sussex veg patchImages from our garden smallholding.