A DAY ON THE PLOT
After a very dry April when the garden hose was in constant use, the rains finally arrived in the last few days of the month. We can now start to plant up our onions and other hardy fruit, flower and vegetable plants, and no doubt weeds will make a comeback.
The cool dry spell
was great for weed control as very few weeds were germinating and
hoeing was easy for killing them as they just shrivelled up under cloudless
skies. There is so much work to be done with seed sowing, planting
and the start of the change over as the spring flower show begins to
pass over and we concentrate on the summer bedding plants that the
problems of the coronavirus can be put at the back of our minds.
Unfortunately there are so many people affected and death rates so
high and wide spread over whole communities that many people are
aware of losing close friends and relatives. Gardens and allotments
are becoming places of peace where the flowers and growing crops help
to keep our spirits
high. As measures are being considered for how we start the
lockdown rules and with so many people now taken to
gardening, there is a great need to open up the garden centres, but
with social distancing rules still in place, so folk can buy in some
compost, plants, seeds and other gardening aids. Plants brought on
early from seed on my indoor windowsills have now all gone into the
greenhouse and so far I have not needed to put in a heater over
night. However my Pumpkins and Courgettes are still a bit tender so
they have the windowsills all to themselves. They have been sown
individually in cellular trays. The greenhouse has been a hive of
activity as plants are moved out for hardening off to allow more
space for other younger plants needing the room.
|Watering young crops|
|First grapes appear|
|Earthing up the Casa Blanca potatoes|
Sweet corn seedlings in small cellular trays got potted up into individual pots to grow on under glass for a couple of weeks before hardening off and planting out at the end of May. African and French Marigolds, Nemesia and Livingston Daisies all needed pricking out but will stay under glass for a couple of weeks before hardening off once threat of frost diminishes. Geraniums have all been outside since beginning of April, but growth has been poor as weather has been cold all April.
Tomatoes are growing strongly under glass but so far none are flowering so planting will be delayed till mid May. Grape vines under glass are growing just fine. Seigerrebe and Solaris have all got plenty flowering shoots and some may need to be thinned, but Black Hamburg is surprisingly poor with many shoots without any signs of a bunch.
Outdoors the tulips and daffodils are going over so removing the seed pods is a frequent task.
|Grafting some apple trees|
However as one show ends the next one begins as Rhododendrons and Azaleas begin to flower, as well as my numerous young geraniums grown for borders, tubs and hanging baskets. All through winter I remove all flowers so they can concentrate on growing, but once they go outdoors for hardening off I let them all flower. I keep track of the different colours as reds go in square pots, pink in black pots and white geraniums go in clay coloured pots.
Potatoes are now all above ground so earthing up is done just in case we get a late frost. Sowing has started for turnips, salads, peas, dwarf French beans, runner beans, parsnips and swedes.
A friend up at City Road Allotments has two apple trees with unimpressive apples, so I grafted a few shoots with Discovery, Falstaff, Fiesta and Red Devil, and if they all grow she will have an
interesting family tree. Once you read up about grafting it is a fairly simple operation with a good success rate (provided you have a sharp knife) and gives great satisfaction when the new varieties begin to grow. So fingers crossed.
Wee jobs to do this week
|Early strawberries in flower|
Early strawberries under low polythene tunnels had the benefit of a long sunny April. Although it was a dry spell it is always necessary to water plants under tunnels so they never suffered. They have now responded and burst into bloom, but the flowers need to get pollinated by bees so the tunnels get opened up. Last year I picked the first berries from my tunnelled crop on 11thMay, but the cool spring this year may delay picking a few days.