New solutions (and potatoes and onions)

Once again Craig has come up with a great solution for my garden. Not a keen gardener himself, he remains actively involved in my hobby, designing and making the structures for the potager and coming up with the innovative ideas to help make my gardening easier .

I cover plants with fleece for the cold, and later with mesh against insects. It’s always been difficult to keep it in place – rocks or pegs work but can fall off or damage the fleece. But now he welded reinforcing rods to slot onto the frames of the beds and it is fantastic! So easy to lift up to weed etc, and a tight fit to stop the pesky flea beetles etc from getting in, yet heavy enough to stop the wind blowing it away.

S0 much more effective and neater than this!

The lengthening days and milder weather (mostly – we had a cracking frost this week which reminds me that winter is far from over) makes my fingers itch to get planting. Transplanted some lettuce (Craquerelle du Midi, my favourite, small, crisp lettuce) dill and leek seedlings last week. Also seeded beetroot (Cheltenham Greentop and Burpee’s Golden)

Ready to be fleeced; for small seedlings or seeds like this I place the fleece directly on top.

Inside, my pepper and chilli seeds have all been transplanted into small pots and moved to the sunny windowsill of my laundry and the seedling trays on the heating mat refilled with tomatoes and celery and celeriac.

Yesterday, 10th March, I planted out all the shallot and onion seedlings and onion bulbs. This year I have shallot Cuisse de Poulet. ( I love the name – means chicken thigh, but usually refers to what we would call a leg of chicken – perfect description for the shape of the shallot) Onions I planted are Snowball (white) Spirit and Contado (both yellow) and Red Baron (red)

Also planted a half row of early potatoes, Jeannette and a half row of Maris Piper. Experimenting this year with spreading the potato planting out over a few weeks.

Rhubarb in the foreground. Remainder of the pumpkin patch stays under plastic to keep the soil warm and weed free for a later planting of butternut and sweetcorn.

The fruit trees are full of wonderful fat buds, ready to burst. The first is always an almond -which I planted because it is early and I love the flowers (this is not almond growing area, so I don’t expect fruit) It also provides an early source of food for the bees

Bumblebee on the almond.

Our bees, and the numerous solitary bee species we have here, are all very active now. I have been fascinated by our bees who love my moist seedling trays. They certainly seem to prefer “dirty” water this time of year – preferring water pooled around rotted leaves to the clean water they seem to favour in mid summer. But here they almost seem to be digging into the soil, so I presume there is some nutrient they are after.

Difficult to see from this photo, but their rear ends are up as they actively dig into the soil.

Grapes on the trellis and pergolas pruned 2 weeks ago; I should have done it earlier as the sap was already rising.

It is incredible how fast they grow. Hard to believe that just over 5 years ago it was just a 30cm stick!

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