Thursday, 4 April 2019

BUSY SPRING DAYS


BUSY SPRING DAYS

It sounded like a good idea at the time. The mild winter and warm dry spring gave the garden plants a great boost. Crocus was a good three weeks ahead of last year and the bees in large numbers were having a great time. So I ran with the good times and sowed seeds and planted potatoes three weeks ahead of my planned seed sowing schedule.
Planting Mayan Gold potatoes
However, now in the middle of March numerous jobs are piling up. Windowsills are bursting at the seams, but winter has returned for a few more days and many of my young plants need the warmth so I cannot transfer them to the unheated greenhouse. Tomatoes got pricked out into cellular trays and
Tares and clover green manure
are now happy on the windowsills. Tuberous begonias in deep polystyrene boxes are still indoors but really need to go into the greenhouse and get spaced out into more boxes as they can grow quite large before they are ready for outdoor planting. Bizzie Lizzies grown from cuttings last autumn have grown into large plants in full flower so they remain indoors as house plants. Later on I will take more cuttings from them to grow into small plants for hanging baskets.
Broad beans and onion seedlings
The snowdrops and aconites put on a great show early on, but now is a great time to transplant some “in the green” up at City Road Allotments flower border. Aconites are getting ready to disperse their seeds so these get carefully gathered up to sow in new locations.
A start has been made to weeding as speedwells and sticky willy are now germinating. These are usually the first weeds to grow after winter and this year they are ahead of the game.
Anna planting snowdrops in the green
Strawberries perked up with the mild winter so one row of Honeoye got covered with a low polythene tunnel, which should advance cropping by about three weeks. On sunny days the temperature can rise, so raise the polythene a little to ventilate the row to keep the strawberries from over heating. Strawberries under tunnels can dry out faster than those in the open so keep them watered. On rainy days it helps to pull back the polythene to let them have a good soaking.
Early potato (Casablanca) and second early (Charlotte) got planted at the end of February and now the maincrop potatoes (Mayan Gold and Maris Piper) can go in. I take out a deep furrow, line it with well rotted garden compost then plant the seed potatoes into this before covering up and dusting the rows with some potato fertiliser.
Now is a good time to sow green manure on land allocated for courgettes, pumpkin and sweet corn as these do not get planted for at least another couple of months. Tares, rye grass and clover all grow
Saskatoon seedlings
very fast giving a lot of foliage to turn in and the roots really break up the soil, penetrating quite deep. It is a great way of adding fertility to the soil. I avoid mustard green manure as it can carry over the clubroot disease of all brassicas including radish and rocket.
Seed sowing outdoors can now begin with leeks, lettuce, radish, spring onions and rocket. Some of these can go in between rows of sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower which take a bit of time to grow over the ground. You can also use salads grown under glass which are well on and may only need a few weeks before you start to crop them.
The greenhouse is just as busy as existing plants begin to grow and new ones such as sweet corn and all the brassicas get sown. Lettuce and saskatoons sown earlier are all big enough to prick out into cellular trays. Broad beans, sweet peas and onions have now all germinated so they need pricking out into larger pots and give them room to grow on.

Wee jobs to do this week

Taking geranium cuttings
Take more geranium cuttings. Cuttings taken last autumn were rooted in cellular trays on a windowsill then potted up singly into three inch pots in winter. These have been growing strongly and many have been potted up into five inch pots. It helps to remove the tops to encourage the plant to branch out, and these tops can be used as cuttings. Now we are heading into spring looking for warmer weather these later cuttings will grow fast, so before they get too tall take their tips out to produce a well branched stocky plant. Use those tops as more cuttings. Remove flowers as they appear so the plant can concentrate on growing.
END

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