Spring is in the air!

We have had the most unusually dry warm weather; 3 weeks with no rain and in the last week day time temperatures have reached the mid 20’s. The garden and our surrounding forests have responded!

Purple sprouting broccoli now has lovely long stemmed smaller heads. The forest in the background seems to change every day, a purplish haze of new buds and splashes of green as the oaks, beech and maples start to come to life
I love this time of year! Plum Reine Claude flowering in the background and espalier of Williams Pear in the foreground

But of course, April is always a difficult month and this year is no exception, with some frost this morning and more forecast for this coming week. The danger, of course, is to newly emerging vegetables (like potatoes) and to grape vines and fruit blossom 😦

A violet carpenter bee (a solitary bee, like so many wild bees here) on apple blossom
One of our bees, laden with pollen, on kale flowers. I leave the kale to flower specifically for the bees – it seems to be one of the favourites of many different species of bees.

This week I planted the last of the potatoes, a row of Sarpo Mira, a red potato that is blight resistant. I always plant them as a backup in case we get blight, and they have proved to be a good all round cooking potato (though nothing like as good as a Maris Piper for roasting!) which keeps really well. We are still eating the Sarpo potatoes we harvested last year. So this year, 4 rows of potatoes: 1 Jeanette, 2 Maris Piper, 1 Sarpo

The first potatoes visible in the foreground, ridged with manure. The onions are doing well and the rhubarb plant continues to thrive

Planted out a row of pak choi Green Fortune, 2 each of cauliflower SnowBall, brocolli Calabrese, savoy cabbage and hearting cabbage. Craig made me more holder frames (not sure what to call them, but the frames made from reinforcing bar to hold the fleece/voile in place) so that I can cover the brassicas with fleece now, then with a very fine anti insect voile to protect them from flea beetles. No insecticide sprays used in my garden!

Over the years I have learnt to plant fewer brassicas at a time – plenty for my kitchen!
I’m thrilled with the fleece holder frames – using a forked stick to hold it up makes it so easy to work under the fleece. Leeks and carrots growing here.

The grape on the trellis and pergola are all sprouting vigorously.

On the trellis on the house the vine is already flowering. Growth rate is almost unbelievable this time of year and I will have to start cutting it back and taking off excess flowers soon.
Broad beans, Aquadulce, and peas (my own seed, from an original planting of Douce de Provence) are both flowering. Fortunately the red grape on the small pergola is slower to flower, so should not be too affected by the frost.

I will sow butternut, gem squash and cucumbers next week, but first need to get some of the seedlings that are crowding my windowsills outside!

Basil, peppers and chillies still inside, but growing well. Will keep them here until after the cold spell, then gradually acclimatise them to outside.
Other seedlings now being acclimatised under cover in the open barn, fleeced at night. Will bring the tomatoes and aubergines back inside for this cold week.

4 thoughts on “Spring is in the air!

    • The broccoli is superb this time of year when there is not a lot to pick in the garden. We love to eat it raw (one of the advantages of not using any chemicals in the garden is that we can pick and eat!) but also in so many dishes. My favourite is stir-fried.

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      • I love raw broccoli too. agreed about not using chemicals. over the winter, i enjoyed mine cut in little florets and dipped in a bit of dressing, raw. yummy and fast. :). I haven’t grown your purple type. Do you have the name of it?

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  1. The variety I use is Red Arrow, but I think Bonarda is also good. It requires patience – difficult for me 🙂 – I plant it in June and only reap in February. But it is well worth it! I always stake mine – the big plants can get top heavy.

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