Now that the soil has defrosted, it is time to get out into the garden and start on the preparations for the ‘vegetable growing season’!
Actually, I am quite proud of myself – I have some lettuces, radishes and onions in the greenhouse and some onions outside too – it will be a while before the onoins are ready, but one lettuce is nearly there! The leeks from last year are looking a bit sorry for themselves after the frosts, but the chard is picking up again quite nicely. So, in theory, I can keep some things in the garden going all year! There are still some beetroot in the ground too – not sure what they will be like…..
The very back of my garden is divinely rich soil, but has been given over to bracken and nettles, with a lovely show of bulbs in the spring. I had meant to dig it out in the autumn, but somehow life got in the way. Last year, I had daffodils flowering right the way through January. This year they are only starting to peek their green shoots above the ground and none of the other bulbs are venturing up much either. It just shows the difference having a few days of hard frost in November, December and January make to the timing of spring plants.
I made a start on digging up the nettles as the afternoon faded to dusk. I am always amazed at the length and tenacity of nettle roots. They just spread everywhere and seem to grip the soil with incredible strength. A mass of bulbs also came up, so as darkness fell I was finding other spots to plant these out amongst the wlidflower beds that line our back garden and throughout our front garden.
I had pruned the Scots Pine to allow more sunlight into the garden on a freezingly cold day a week or so back. Yesterday my daughter and I clipped the smaller branches and collected them in a couple of boxes to allow them to compost to make acidic compost for the heather and a little for the strawberries. Some of the mid-sized branches were burnt and the large ones kept to dry properly – perhaps will add them as long-term compost for a perma-culture bed.
The next job will be to sort out the compost – the well composted stuff needs to go out onto the beds and the fresher stuff needs to go down into the compost bay to rot more over the next few months. It is hard to time this right. At the moment the ground is really wet so digging is a bad idea (as is walking over it) and the compost may be leached by the time planting happens.
However, I need some more for my next section of strawberry bed – one year, I will have enough strawberries to make jam as well as feeding the ravenous strawberry-eating monsters (aka my kids). This year, I am half burying 2L milk bottles into the strawberry beds in the hope that this will help to get water to the right places during dry periods. Will let you know how that goes.
The wildflowers I planted in pots in the autumn have largely survived and soon will need to find a summer home. Mostly in the front garden, but some in the back and will also plant some in amongst the vegetables to attract pollinators and pest-predators there.
So, though my vegetable garden currently looks like muddy mayhem, it is in fact a plan waiting to happen.