A HUNDRED WEE JOBS
At long last the cold weather has been replaced with a very late but welcome spring sunshine and some warmth. Gardeners can now catch up on numerous jobs building up while we wait on some planting and sowing weather.
The greenhouse has been overflowing with plants, as the frosty nights stopped me from hardening off my broad beans, sweet peas and some large pots of Barca Red chrysanthemums now over a foot tall. The frost has gone so now they are all outdoors.
Chrysanthemum stools have been stripped for cuttings and the old plants shredded and added to the compost heap. Cuttings are rooted in cutting compost in a propagator with some bottom heat.
Last years old grow bags were opened up and I added some top soil before sowing a crop of winter salad leaves in autumn. These have been very prolific giving us fresh young salad leaves all winter, but they have now been put outdoors as they are quite hardy and greenhouse space is at a premium.
Tomatoes, Jalapeno chilli peppers and my tuberous begonias have now being transferred from the warmth of my house windowsills to the greenhouse. I had to resort to putting on my electric heater for a few weeks as frosty nights would have done damage to many plants.
Other seedlings including lettuce, radish, spring onion and beetroot have also moved from windowsills to the greenhouse. They will only get about two weeks under glass then they are due for planting on the allotment under low polythene tunnels for an early crop.
Tomatoes saved as cuttings from last year have put on fantastic growth, though I kept cutting them back and using the tips as more cuttings, so I have plenty of excellent plants for my grow bags. I will also plant up Alicante and Gardeners Delight tomatoes into grow bags now the spring weather has arrived.
Dormant fuchsias have now started into growth so they have been potted up, watered and spaced out in the greenhouse.
A batch of sweet corn has been sown individually in cellular trays and placed on my windowsills to germinate as there is no space left in the greenhouse. Cape gooseberries are also on windowsills awaiting space in the greenhouse once something else can be moved out. I think that will be my fifty geranium plants.
There were just enough dry days to allow all the soil to be roughly dug in late winter. The dry weather with frosty nights has helped to break down the clods to give me perfect seedbeds. All fruit bush pruning has been completed and prunings shredded and added to the new compost heap. Raspberry canes are now tied in along the top wire with a string running knot which is a lot faster than tying them separately, and the canes do not move in the wind.
New fruit bushes including Aronia Viking, white currant White Versailles, Raspberry Glen Fyne and my three new outdoor grapes, Phoenix, Rondo, and Regent have all been planted on south facing fences. This could be a very interesting year.
Land set aside for sweet corn, pumpkins, cape gooseberries and courgettes wont be needed for a couple of months so it has been prepared as a seed bed, fertilised and sown with a green manure crop of red clover. Hopefully this will grow away strongly and get dug in prior to the land being needed for planting in June.
Spring cabbage planted last summer has hardly grown at all, though there is still time. Last years cold weather never did the young plants any favour and the prolonged winter has really held back any spring growth. They got full protection from pigeons, slugs, clubroot, caterpillers and rootfly maggots, plus ample compost and Perlka fertiliser, but we cannot control the weather.
Plant of the week
Tulip Scarlet Baby is always very welcome as this Tulip kaufmanniana species is the earliest one to appear. This year may be running weeks late but this tulip started to flower in the first week in April. It is a fiery red with yellow centre and once planted comes up every year with the group slowly increasing in size. As this is a species it naturalises very easily without the need to lift in late spring, drying off the bulbs in summer and replanting in autumn as with most other tulips. My group is planted alongside a drift of yellow saxifrage which flowers at the same time making quite a nice splash of early colour.