Sunday, 17 April 2016

BUSY TIMES IN THE GARDEN



BUSY TIMES IN THE GARDEN

Spring seems to be a wee bit late this year. It has not been very cold, but the lack of a few really warm days is holding plant growth back. The ground outside is taking a long time to warm up so there is little point in making an early start to seed sowing and planting. However in some ways we still use the calendar to determine sowing times hoping the weather will behave and not drift too far off normal. Some plants are just fine but others can be very sensitive to low temperatures and lack of sunshine. Tomatoes are all now in the cold greenhouse, but seem quite happy and although most need potting up I will wait until we get better growing conditions.
Picking early rhubarb
Cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts have all been pricked out into cellular trays and are well established but not really growing well at present. Early sowings of lettuce are fine, but beetroot in cellular trays is looking decidedly cold and not really wanting to grow.
Onion Globo gave a brilliant germination on the windowsill, but then after transferring to the cold greenhouse look very unhappy. The tips are turning yellow suggesting poor compost or just not enough sunny days. I gave them a general liquid feed, and put on the greenhouse heater for a few days to cheer them up.
Sweet peas have all had the tops pinched out after three leaves and once new shoots put on a bit of growth they will go outside for hardening off.
Broad beans ready for planting
Broad beans have been hardened off for several weeks, and normally I would have planted them out, but the soil is still too cold to get them well established.
Geraniums retained from last year and potted up have been outdoors for two weeks hardening off, but the strong winds blowing them over and thunderstorms with hailstones is not doing them any favours. Smaller geraniums grown on from cuttings are now ready to pot up and should make strong sturdy plants for tubs, beds and baskets by mid May.
Last month a couple of nice days encouraged me to plant my row of first early potatoes Casablanca, but cold weather followed so no sign of any growth as yet. My other potatoes will all get planted whenever we get a few dry days as it is time for planting by the calendar, if not the temperature.
However all is not gloomy, as the rhubarb is quick to push out new fresh bright red sticks, perfect for pulling for the kitchen, and a row of rocket and over wintered lettuce are both ready for cutting. With the mild winter I have been able to pick rocket continuously since last summer.
Leeks and parsnips are still plentiful, though they will need to get used up before they run to seed.
Sowings of turnip, peas, outdoor salads, leeks, kale, chard and parsley are due for sowing once the rain stops, and the sun reappears.
Sweet corn gave a good germination of thirty plants from forty seeds, but will need to grow for another couple of weeks before potting up into bigger pots.
Once the ground warms up I will be sowing green manure crops on the land allocated to pumpkins, courgettes and sweet corn which do not get planted till early June. My favourite has always been clover which has very fibrous root systems that help to break up the soil and the nitrogen fixing bacteria on the roots adds nutrients once the clover rots down after digging in.
The fruit garden is also suffering from lack of warm days. Flower buds are swelling on the apples and pears, but my new peach, Avalon Pride and plum Victoria are only just beginning to grow.
Outdoor grape vines remain dormant, but under glass all the vines are in leaf.
The cool weather does have some advantages with spring flowers that seem to last a lot longer with dazzling daffodils and early tulips.

Wee jobs around the garden

Pot up chrysanthemum cuttings that have now rooted and continue to take more as the old stools keep growing. Dahlia tubers boxed up a few weeks ago are now growing and surplus shoots can be used to increase the stock.

END

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