Happy days (and reckless rats)

A day past the Spring Equinox. I love this time of year, a point of perfect balance before we rush forward into longer, lighter, warmer days. The second day of spring has brought us the first rain in March and the garden smells fresh and lovely. The ‘Early Onward’ and ‘Douce Provence’ peas are shooting up. What a sweet sight.

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The ‘Imperial Green’ broad beans  are looking good, too…

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…and already opening their first flowers to tempt the busy bumbles.

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We’re enjoying regular pickings of purple sprouting broccoli – mmm, just love it! –

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but the ‘Pixie’ spring cabbages still have a long way to go before they’re ready for the table. Hurry up, you lot.

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It’s that crazy time of year with tender seedlings everywhere and nowhere consistently warm to keep them (ok, partly my fault for planting too many seeds again). Roger has come up with a nifty plant transporter –  large board balanced on a wheelbarrow- which cuts down the trips between polytunnel for daytime light and warmth, and utility room for protection overnight. I’m determined not to repeat last year’s tomato trauma, surely 36 plants should do it?

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In the tunnel, rows of mesclun, mizuna and radish are all through the ground and there’s a good sprinkling of mixed ‘Salad Bowl’ lettuce in a tray to transplant at a later date.

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Green, purple and lemon basil are all up and thankfully, there’s little sign of slugs near them (yet!). The ‘Musselburgh’ and ‘Blue Solaise’ leeks are germinating nicely and I’ve evicted trays of ‘Greyhound’ summer cabbage and ‘Ailsa Craig’ and ‘Grenada’ onions to toughen up outside.

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I’ve also planted 50 sets of ‘Stuttgarter Giant’ onion to make up the numbers.

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The dry weather has made for some good days of digging and clearing and at last the saturated ground is drying out. I’ve scraped off the straw mulch, composted the top layer and dug in the rotted stuff as a soil improver. The worms have been having a field day working through a layer of muck and the soil has stayed pretty much weed-free. It’s all looking so much better than this time last year. Can’t wait to get planting.

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The heated propagator is back in action to nurture the latest sowings and yes, of course, I may have got a little carried away with all those beautiful seeds. Which reminds me: many thanks once again to all at vegetableseeds.net for my voucher, you feed my habit so well!  🙂

I have a few ‘Bonica’ aubergine plants, as if the 14 plants in three other varieties aren’t enough already.

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Then there are ‘Sweet Chocolate’ peppers, two varieties of courgette, a yellow ‘Goldena’ (Adrienne and I fell in love with them last summer whilst nosing around a local public potager and decided they just have to be grown) and green ‘Latino’; cucumber ‘Jogger’, an outdoor variety given to me by Sarah who’s trying them in her Welsh garden this year; and 7 (shhh, please don’t tell Roger) types of squash – ‘Hunter’ butternut,’Stripetti’, ‘Uchiki Kuri’, ‘Crown Prince’, ‘Golden Nugget’, ‘Sweet Dumpling’ and ‘Bonbon’.“Kiitos paljon” to Anja for her generosity and expertise in all things squash! 

It’s a wonderful thing to see those fresh new shoots pushing upwards. Look at how much the ‘Latino’ courgettes have grown in just the time it’s taken me to write this post. Amazing!

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The garden is looking very spring-like, full of colour with a heady  scent of blossom and pollen in the air. I’m wasting far too much time wandering about out there with my nose in the flowers.

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The ‘formal’ border of forget-me-nots and tulips which I planted at the back of the veg patch is starting to flower but I much prefer the carefree sprinklings of blue and white violets which have popped up unannounced in the grass in front of the border. Definitely more my style!

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So, all might seem rosy in the garden but, needless to say, there is one big fly (or rather, rat) in the ointment which seems hell bent on causing trouble. In the utility room, the said creature keeps dragging a bar of soap from the sink and dumping it on top of the chitting seed potatoes (I’m sure it has its reasons…), has had a good nibble at the top of several spuds and this morning had dragged an aubergine plant out of its pot and spread compost all over the floor. Not a great gardener, then. I shall leave Roger to do battle with the rodent and head out into the sunshine for a spot of rat-free weeding in the company of the far less destructive lizards…

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Finally, the warm weather has given us a tunnel full of salad stuff and fresh herbs, and sunny evenings in the garden. Nothing for it but to dust off the barbecue, tuck in  and raise a glass to spring. Happy gardening, everyone! 🙂

 

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2 thoughts on “Happy days (and reckless rats)

  1. You are putting me in a panic with how far on you are! I’ve yet to sow a seed and it’s only 8 days till April. The ground here seems too cold and wet to put the onion sets in – hoping for better weather in a week or so. Must get my skates on…

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    • Don’t panic, you’ll soon catch up (and who could say no to some Spanish sunshine, anyway?!).I don’t think there’s anything sensible about my timings – so much for my resolution to slow down this year and plant at the same time as the locals. It will all come back to haunt me, I’ve already run out of warm spaces for my tender babies. Enjoy planting your haul from Spain!

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