Friday, 8 February 2008

Is it Spring yet?

I hope not! Still feel like there's catching up to be done.

But for Tuesday, this has been a rain free week, and the ground is finally starting to recover. As I'm dealing with previously uncultivated clay at the house, and long neglected clay at the allotment, it's still not the time to tramp all over with abandon. One of the reasons I'm putting in raised beds - the no-dig method will also mean less chance of aggravating an assortment of old injuries.

Had a very busy weekend. Had to dig up all the fruit trees and bushes from the old allotment and move them over to the new one. All done bar the largest trees, which we'll have to hire a transit for, and the rest of the raspberry canes. Also dug up my hellebores and other plants from my woodland patch. Have to hope that the Trilliums show above ground soon as I don't want to leave them. I want to take cuttings from the Elder tree as well. I've been making elderflower drinks for the past few Springs and I don't want to miss out. One of the other plotholders at the new site has an elder tree. I've struck a deal for this year to collect her elderflowers in exchange for one of my elderflower drizzle cakes.

For the second week of February, The Wartime Weekend Gardener recommends planting a few First Early potatoes to get an extra early crop. Rather than plant direct, I'm going to grow a few in large pots in the back garden, then plant the rest at the allotment mid-March.

Start sowing Parsnips. I love them, but they were always a pain to grow in the stoney soil at the old allotment. Hopefully raised beds and no-dig methods will allow me to grow something worth harvesting in polite company.

Also, sow radishes in trays. Radishes are overlooked these days in favour of other salad crops, but they have the advantage of being quick growing - a crop to encourage you when everything else is hiding below the surface.

Some of the most popular Mediterranean garden vegetables are omitted from WWG - there's no mention even for tomatoes. If you have a heated propagator or a sunny south facing windowsill, now would be a good time to start aubergines, tomatoes and peppers indoors. I bought some Padron pepper seeds a couple of weeks ago from Pennard Plants. This is a Spanish pepper, mostly mild, but about 1 in 10 fruits are very hot! Come September, I hope to be having fun preserving stuff in the kitchen - jams, chutneys, pickles, tomato sauces, and if the Summer is good enough, maybe experiment with sun drying!

Sitting here writing this, the birds are singing in the trees as the sun goes down. As dusk falls, I'm sure I'll hear the racket from the foxes that seem to have moved in a couple of gardens away, and once it's fully dark there will be shrieks and hoots from Tawny Owls in the woods. It feels more like the edge of the countryside than the edge of a city.

Maybe I can't wait for Spring after all...

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