THE GARDEN AWAKENS
As winter weather recedes and we can feel some warmth in the sunshine, a trip around the garden lets us know that plant growth is on the move. The snowdrops have finished, the aconites are past their best, but crocus are now blooming and bringing life into the garden. All my roses, pruned several weeks ago, have small shoots growing, and in the greenhouse the greenfly and whitefly are in great abundance and in party mode. Recent dry sunny weather has brought out the pests. Greenfly on my chrysanthemums and whitefly everywhere were just waiting on fresh new leaves to enhance their diet. However a wee spray of Provado on a dull day stopped all their fun.
I had purchased some gorgeous pansies and polyanthus in full bloom so I could plant up my spring flowering hanging baskets and a few tubs. I kept them in the cold greenhouse to get them established as there is a strong chance they have all come direct from a polythene tunnel. They will go outdoors after a couple of weeks.
Sweet peas sown two weeks ago on a windowsill have all germinated and have now gone into my cold greenhouse as they are fairly hardy once they get growing. They were sown at three to four seeds in each cell in a tray and will get potted up in a fortnight.
Outdoor grape vines were pruned last month. The strongest of the pruning were used as cuttings (six inches long) placed in cellular trays in a propagator with bottom heat. They are now starting to grow so will get potted up into small pots but kept in the cold greenhouse.
Three new grape vines, (Rondo, Regent and Siegerrebe) have been purchased to replace those that died last year due to phytophthora root rot on the allotment. However they are growing at home in good soil against a south facing fence, with Siegerrebe going into my greenhouse.
Geraniums grown from cuttings last autumn and kept cool but frost free on a windowsill are now putting on some growth. The tops have been removed and used as more cuttings to increase stock. Geraniums are quite hardy so the biggest plants have now gone onto my cold greenhouse to harden off. This will keep them sturdy removing flower buds as they appear to keep the plants strong.
The sowing season kicked off a few weeks ago when I started my sweet peas, but now the last week in February is when I sow my tomatoes and broad beans, then a week later I will sow my onions.
I use the variety Hytech which is very reliable giving a heavy crop of large onions which can store right through winter into spring.
Apples in store are just about finished. Last years crop was not as heavy as normal due to lack of bees for pollination resulting in fewer apples. Bramley in store suffered some brown rot, but there will only be a few left at the beginning of March. Fiesta is the only apple still in store, but now down to my last five.
Down on the allotment the strawberries have had plenty frosty days to initiate fruit buds, so I have erected a low polythene tunnel over a row of the early variety Mae. I hope this will give me my first ripe berries at the end of May or early June depending on our local weather. Picked my first strawberries last year on 30th May, but it was a great year.
Wee jobs to do this week
Seed potatoes for planting in March are now in boxes in a light but cool room to let the shoots chit.
Potatoes and onions are still fine in store while kept cool, but I keep pumpkins a wee bit warmer. Winter cropping vegetables outdoors such as cabbage, swedes, leeks, kale, Brussels sprouts and parsnip should still be fine for using as required.
Beetroot left outdoors has now been lifted for use and was perfect even after a few frosts.
Rocket sown in autumn continues to provide plenty fresh leaves for salads, and flower spikes have been cut off as they appear to encourage growth.