Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Lessons learnt

As we move towards April plenty of lessons have been learnt in the garden already this year. It was always going to be a learning curve starting a veg garden from nothing and so far it has proved to be a very steep one.

The main challenge I have faced is the weather. After the incessant rain came the freezing cold all of this accompanied with harsh gales day and night. With the weather so changeable the handful of seedlings that I have planted out have barely made it through the day let alone gone onto establish good roots and growth.

I was perhaps over eager in February when planting out broad beans with minimal hardening off. These were reduced to just stalks by the harsh winds and hail.

One thing which really has come to my savoir is cloches. I have made these by cutting used plastic bottles in half and placing the neck end over the seedling.

I have been doing a trial on the lettuces which I over wintered with great results. They didn’t really need them, the ones without cloches are growing perfectly fine however the lettuce which has had a cloche over it for the past three weeks is the biggest and certainly looks the healthiest plant. So a small victory there, even if there is a way still to go with before I harvest them.

I have since employed this tactic with my chard. I only have two plants out at the moment with a couple more just starting off inside. The idea being that by successional sowing these I would avoid a glut in the summer and free up space to grow a greater variety of plants. The cloches have saved the chard from a pretty rough start and they have since begun to look a lot better. Once they get too big for the cloches then they should be big enough to stand up for themselves.

As a precaution to the frosts this week I have covered over the raised bed that I planted seeds in last week with a plastic sheet. This has done the job of keeping the frosts out but at the moment there is no sign of any seedlings. Fingers crossed on that one.

A good sign this week was some shoots appearing from the shallots I planted last month. The ducks had dug a couple up which I just pushed back in. At the time I noticed there was plenty of root growth so had been anticipating the appearance of these shoots. I may have been later than some planting the shallots out but they still have a long growing season ahead and plenty of time to bulk up. The challenge was to get a harvest from these before the onions were ready, providing food over a longer period of time. With the onions that I’m growing from seed still inside this still looks very much on track.

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