Monday, 20 April 2020

A SUNNY SPRING DAY

                                                        A SUNNY SPRING DAY

Spring eventually arrived once we got into April, so it was warm enough to bring out the picnic table from store so we could enjoy tea on the patio. Isolation at home is fine for those of us with
gardens as there is always some wee job to sort out.
Anna plants the broad beans
As many folks will be confined to barracks for many weeks, I reckon by mid summer there will be some brilliant looking gardens around, but maybe not many folks to see them. Now that temperatures are rising garden plants are just loving it and spring flowers are popping up everywhere. The self
Mixed crocus
isolation can affect your mental well-being
if boredom sets in, but the lucky ones with a garden are kept busy working amongst fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers to keep us entertained. Then we have beautiful flowers to enjoy both in the garden and some cut flowers for the home. However the story is a bit different up on the allotment plots. For many plot holders who live in flats the allotment plot is their garden for exercise in the fresh air, a place for relaxation amongst nature and the production of fresh healthy vegetables and fruit, and most also grow flowers to make their plot attractive. These outdoor activities in the sun also builds up strong levels of vitamin D and home grown fruit and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep us strong and more able to fight off any attack of the coronavirus. The allotment movement all over UK provide a massive amount of fresh produce as
Magnolia stellata
many amateur gardeners are nearly self sufficient for half the year. I still have a few onions,
potatoes and pumpkins in store and outdoors there is swedes, sprouts, leeks, kale and my over wintered lettuce can now be picked. Anna’s freezer is still bulging with fruit and vegetables
harvested last year. Advice coming from government has considered the above and Michael Gove concluded that using allotments for exercise was perfectly sensible provided plot holders maintain the recommended distance from each other and also implement other precautions of washing hands and not forming any social groups. If any plot holder shows any signs of
The last stored vegetables
infection they must leave the site until they recover. Up on City Road Allotments, we now all wear gloves when opening gates on arrival and as our communal hut and toilets are shut down we bring along a flask of tea and our social chat is confined to shouting, Good Morning over the plot fence. Allotments are relatively quiet and even with over sixty plots there is usually only about three to six people on site at any one occasion. No-one can escape the new rules as notices are everywhere from the entrance gates, the new flower border, a blaze of daffodils and tulips at this moment, and on the communal hut outdoor noticeboard. The communal hut and toilets are shut down for the time being.
Time to bring out the picnic tables
The normal April showers have not yet arrived so the ground is perfect for seed sowing and
planting, provided everything gets watered afterwards. The hardy range of broad beans, sweet peas and chrysanthemums have all got planted then watered in. Turnip Purple Top Milan, Leek
Musselburgh and Pea Kelvedon Wonder have all been sown outdoors on the plot and African marigold, Livingston daisies and Nemesia got sown in seed trays indoors. These will be pricked out into cellular trays after a couple of weeks.
Amaryllis that had flowered in December is now growing strongly in the greenhouse, and will get fed regularly to build up the bulb for flowering next December. Spring flowers of pansies,
polyanthus and wallflower with tulips
City Road Allotments flower border
and crocus amongst them growing in tubs and baskets will also benefit from a feed. Spring flowers are now in full display mode with daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinths at ground level as well as many shrubs including Camellias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Magnolias and Forsythia. Flower power is helping to keep spirits high at this critical time.

Wee jobs to do this week
Remove flower shoots from rhubarb

Rhubarb is now growing strongly and pulling a few stems for the kitchen is very welcome.
To keep it growing add some fertiliser and a mulch of well rotted compost. Rhubarb can be a gross feeder and also needs plenty of moisture so water the clumps in dry spells. Flowering shoots appear early in April. Remove these as soon as possible otherwise they will affect growth.

END

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