Monday, 18 May 2015

A Slow Start

After the fantastic weather throughout April, May has been a mixed month so far. By the time it did eventually rain in April the garden was in real need of it, there is only so much a watering can or hose pipe can make up for. Regardless of the lack of rain the early sun really gave a lot of plants a great start. My aim this year was to sow as much directly into the soil as possible rather than in seed trays or pots and April's weather was ideal for this.

Parsnip seeds were sown in rows with a catch crop of radish mixed amongst them, beans and peas went in at the bottom of the canes and carrots seeds were accompanied by spring onions in a specially prepared bed. Various types of salad leave have been successionally sown since the beginning of March and the potatoes and onions weren't far behind them. Of course all of these and more went directly into the soil rather than onto a windowsill or the dining table where I would have been able to keep an eye on them.

The results have been mixed really. The potatoes got caught by a late frost and for a time had me worried that they would never recover, they have and they now appear to be the star performers. The radishes were going strong for about four weeks until suddenly the ducks decided that they do actually like them and ate the whole lot whilst I was in work. They seem to have left the parsnips alone though which is a bit of blessing as they do take a while to get going.

An impulse buy at the garden centre saw me come home with some summer cabbage seedlings, these have gone out with the extra protection of netting whilst they settle in. I find that when transplanting it takes a week or two for the roots to adapt at which stage there will be no growth at all. If the plants can be protected during these early days when they are most susceptible to damage then they will really shoot up in the weeks that follow.

The beans and peas haven't lived up to last years high standards, this has prompted me to buy new varieties of each which I hope will do better. The runner beans never did germinate and only about fifty percent of the peas ever came through. These have now been surrounded by a load more directly sown seed so who knows I may end up with more than I think if they all come through, fingers crossed.

Meanwhile inside there have been highs and lows. It is essential living up here for me to get any warmer climate loving crops such as courgettes, squashes and corn started off inside so when they do eventually go outside they are good and strong. It also gives me a longer growing season, last year my first butternut squashes appeared around the end of September when there was no chance that there was enough sun left in the days for them to mature. Some dwarf french beans, another first for me, managed to escape my notice and seemed to shoot up overnight. I've put them outside for now but they'll likely end up on the compost heap and I'll start again with these.

It won't be long and I'll have my first meal from the salad bed, hopefully accompanied by some broad beans. For the moment everything appears to be standing still but all that will change once the sun begins to shine again, everything will shoot up around me and we'll be eating from the garden every day again.

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