Monday, 13 April 2020

OUTDOOR SUN LOVERS

                                                   OUTDOOR SUN LOVERS

It looks like we are getting a few days of spring weather to brighten up the gloom. Winter has passed, but not a single snowflake landed on my garden. Temperatures have hovered around
Anna waters the spring flowers
freezing for weeks so we were due some warm sunshine for both plants and gardeners. Folk with gardens are now the lucky ones as self isolation to avoid coronavirus infection has at least given us a place to go with plenty of jobs needing attention, and now spring flowers are in abundance it raises up our spirits. I had a day weeding the garden, but it has been too cold for most weeds to
Sweet corn seedlings
germinate, so it was not a difficult task, apart from a few speedwells, pennycress, willow herb, and annual meadow grass. Anna has been busy in isolation in the kitchen making our own loaves of bread. Small of fresh home made bread is fantastic, then there was a large pot of home made leek and parsnip soup. This isolation is not all bad it has a lot of merits. March has been a busy month for seed sowing. Sweet corn, lettuce, radish, beetroot, cauliflower, kale, Nemesia, French and African marigolds all got sown in the warmth of my south facing lounge. Windowsills are all used up, but others in pans, pots and cellular trays were placed on plastic tray and just left on a spare table. However as soon as I got a decent germination they got transferred to the greenhouse before they got leggy. That meant hardy greenhouse plants like sweet peas, broad beans and geraniums all went outdoors to harden off. I have always loved pushing the limits of what we can grow up in Scotland as climate change is increasing the range we can grow, so sweet corn, pumpkins,
Sweet corn
courgettes and Cape gooseberries which all like it hot and sunny are on this year’s list.
Unfortunately, although we are getting warmer temperatures we are also getting a lot more rain. That is a big problem with no answer. Last year my autumn strawberries Flamenco produced a very heavy crop of berries that all rotted as botrytis took hold. I hardly got any berries.
Over the years I have tried several varieties of sweet corn, but the variety Incredible was my real winner so I am growing it again this year. Germination has been nearly 100% so after a fortnight the plants in small cells will get potted up and kept in the greenhouse for two or three weeks before hardening of and planting out about the end of May. The land allocated for them as well as
Cape gooseberry
pumpkins and courgettes has all been sown down with a clover green manure. This is quick
growing so I will have a decent amount of growth to trample down and dig in about three weeks ahead of planting. Pumpkins and courgettes will get sown at the end of April. Two courgettes and five pumpkin plants will keep us supplied for several months. My last Cape gooseberries also love a warm sheltered spot with fertile soil. In previous wet years they have failed to ripen up, but we keep trying, and this could be their year.
pumpkin grown in 2019 was cooked at the beginning of this month. Both courgettes and pumpkins need plenty of space so are planted about three to four feet apart. I tend to let my pumpkins wander around hoping to get extra fruits.
Young cauliflowers
Other permanent plantings that enjoy the heat are figs, peaches and grapes. Figs have been very successful every year but outdoor grapes have varied. The variety Brant is brilliant though bunches are small, but last year the wet weather shrivelled up all the bunches of Regent and Rondo, though Phoenix gave me a small crop of ripe grapes for wine. Growing peaches outdoors in Scotland has its problems. They will grow, flower and fruit, but our wet climate encourages peach leaf curl disease even on those varieties such as Avalon Pride claimed to have some resistance. If you remove all the infected leaves the plant cannot grow and fruit. They all fall off before they ripen.
Pruning cornus and willow stems

Wee jobs to do this week

Cut back the colourful shoots from the cornus and willow in the winter garden as these are now
beginning to grow. After the winter show of bright red and orange stems, it is now time for the underplanted bulbs of crocus then tulips to put on a show. I cut back all shoots as far back as possible as they regrow again very easily. The longest shoots are retained for supports for rows of peas on my allotment.

END

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