Welcome back to "Reads Retreat", and my weekly guide to growing your own veg in raised beds.
As you can clearly see, the grass is starting to put on some new growth - probably the best indicator there is that the ground is starting to warm up, and the garden is getting ready to grow!
Not that I'm going to rush out with the mower you understand, not for a good few weeks yet, but just that if the grass is growing, then most other plants will be doing the same. This also signals the start of weedgrowth - no matter how hard you prepare, they still seem to flourish, and its now that their progress must be halted. Thats a job that is now high on my list.
There's some flashes of colour too! These daffs are just starting to show, and together with the tulips in the pot, will brighten up this otherwise "green" corner of the patio.
Incidentally, the Rosemary seems to be flourishing, despite the cold, wind and rain that has been bestowed upon us.
I've been told that 7 years is a good life span for this herb, so I've a good few years left from it. When out shopping tomorrow, I'll get some Olive Oil, and add some sprigs of rosemary to it , along with some garlic, before putting the jar to the back of the cupboard for use later in the year. Seems a bit pointless to buy ready made when you can have a go yourself for just a couple of quid! Yummy with roast lamb mmmmmm.
My recent purchase of seed potato's have been laid out now for chitting, for just a couple of weeks, and already you can see new shoots emerging all over their skins.
To encourage the growth of the shoots at the "crown" of the seed, the shoots lower down have been scraped away with a finger nail. On the larger seeds, I've left more shoots than the smaller seeds - these can if need be, be split in half at time of planting, to give me more crop. This should be done with a sharp knife, and within a few minutes of planting, otherwise the seed may "turn" giving rise to infection on the cut and thus simply rotting in the soil .
My planting of Garlic (v. Fokyhama ) that were sown late November are really growing on well. After a few months of nothing visibly happening they are now all between 4 - 6" tall. During the last few months, they will hopefully have sent down good strong tap roots to soak up the moisture, whilst the frost will have encouraged the hidden bulbs to swell / multiply. Now its a case of making sure that they receive regular watering ( 2-3 times a week ) regardless of the current weather.
The Broad Beans (v. Bunyard Exhibition) are also showing good early spring growth. Time I think for a few slug pellets around the plot, and I'll also be using wood ash this year in an attempt to halt the blighters progress. I've been told to use the ash sparingly, as it may be slightly acidic and I dont want to damage the plants.
Last years Parsnips (v. Hollow Crown) have over wintered well, and with the flourish of new growth, it seems almost a shame to contemplate pulling them from the ground, although I know if i leave them too long, they will just become woody and un-usable.
This year I'm going to try growing them in cardboard tubes - left over from kitchen roll ! More on this soon !
Meanwhile, in the comfortable surroundings of the conservatory, my early seed sowings seem to be in full growth. I'm amazed at the peppers in particular, as all the seeds have germinated and are all growing well. In the next week or so, they will be planted on into larger pots, where hopefully this will stay and until they start to fruit! Lets hope we get a bumper crop from this little lot. I'll also be sowing a few more of each over the next couple of weeks, to provide some successional crops, and hopefully avoid a glut in harvesting .
And then there's the other seed tray that was planted early ! All the seeds are once again germinated.
The tomato(v. Moneymaker) are just starting to produce their second pairs of leaves and thus can be potted on.
The Basil (v. Dark Opal) are also flourishing and will be potted on into 3" pots, before going into the beds in a few weeks time.
And once the main frosts have passed, the onions and leeks will also be transplanted to their final growing positions.
So, it seems , a busy week ahead! It wont be long now until we can get into the garden proper, and get the main plantings underway.
A little tip for you, to keep you ahead of the competition: Keep a bag or 2 of general purpose compost INDOORS ! This will keep it's temperature up and assist with the germination of your seedlings. This will save you a considerable amount of time, as germination times will be speeded up. Thats about it for this week, except to congratulate the England Rugby Team on their emphatic win over France yesterday, and also to congratulate Southend United on a fine win, away at Yeovil Town, cementing their place nearer the top of the table ready for the promotion play offs. Well done all.
Take care all and see you soon. Enjoy your gardens,