The sun is shining, the birds are singing, it's dry, and almost warm!
The Equinox is over a week away, but Spring has well and truly sprung, and I'm finally confident enough to sow seeds.
This has been the coldest Winter for a few years. Whilst there were no days when snow stopped everything, at least a little fell. We had more heavy frosts than the past couple of years put together. We had a couple of instances of consecutive heavy frosts, when the ice on the pond stayed solid for a few days in a row. The downside of this was that I had to eventually fish out a dead frog that was a little over eager to get back under water and stake their spot for the breeding season. Fortunately, other frogs were a little more sensible, and for the past couple of weeks I've seen other frogs in the pond.
My little snowdrop collection has put on a great show, from the delicate Wasp to the big & bumptious Rev.Hailstone, and so many in between. Once the last flowers have gone over, I'll start dividing and repotting them. The frost has damaged quite a few pots, so it will be a pretty comprehensive job this year. This year the double white Hellebore has been the most vigorous of my collection. At the moment my favourite one, the yellow, is looking a little weedy, so I may have to work on the soil in that patch.
But Spring has arrived, as usual very slowly at first, then suddenly over the past few days my crocuses and daffodils have burst into flower, as have some of the plants in the shade bed apart from Hellebores - the Brunnera Jack Frost is in flower, the dark flowered Scopolia is in bud and colouring up, and the dwarf Celandine plants are leafing up. On an edible note, I picked my first batch of Ransoms (wild Garlic) leaves for the year.
Not that was the first harvest of the year. In January, I was able to pick a few flowers from the trough of Saffron crocus I'd planted at end at Summer. I extracted the stamens and set them to dry, and by February was able to use them in a risotto. I've sown little pots of salad microgreens which sit on the kitchen windowsill and get snipped and added to sandwiches, salads and scrambled eggs. At the allotment, we had kale to pick throughout the coldest of days, when all other crops gave up the ghost. Ignore the tarring by the brush of earnest health charlatans, Kale is reliable, versatile and tasty. It survives the worst that Winter can throw at it. Grow it for that reason.
In fact, just last week I started the kale crops that will see us through next Winter. At the weekend I sowed more salads and the first batch of peas & beans. This morning I planted the first potatoes for the year, in potato planting backs, to be grown in the back garden for extra early cropping. Hopefully this week will be dry enough to get started with planting the rest at the allotment before the month is out.
Despite the doom and chaos in the outside world, what I can organise myself is looking positive.