Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Just a little longer

Let’s not forget winter still holds the upper hand and is only very slowly beginning to show signs of releasing her grip allowing spring to break through.

Heavy ground frosts continue to check the growth of my purple sprouting broccoli. Icy Rain and winds have delayed the growth of spring bulbs and fruit buds.

So when I saw several plot holders using last years planning diaries to forge ahead with the planting of their early potato seed and sowing carrot, parsnip and beetroot seed unprotected I had to laugh (at them not with them).

Why go to all the trouble and back-ache of digging your plot and buying seeds only to guarantee failure or at the very least disappointment from germination failure and bolting beets? It’s difficult enough to afford the time with the plot what with the family and the job as it is. Impatience to get going regardless of the season must be reaching fever point but don’t get suckered in.

There’s really no need to use a calendar to determine when to plant first earlies. If the grass in the garden doesn’t look like it needs it first trim of the year then don’t bother about planting anything in the ground until it does. You may get away with a few peas and broad beans if they are protected by cover. Onion sets can go in too but in my opinion anything else would be a waste of time and seed. I hope they prove me wrong.

Everything will be later than last year, but surely it’s better to grow under the correct conditions than to plant now whilst winter remains dominant. On the plus side - The bugs must have taken a hammering this winter so organic gardeners may find it slightly easier when the weather finally breaks.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Forking Finally

Popped over to the plot for a reccy on last weekend, expecting the usual flood plain of stagnated rain waters and frozen compost. I was in no mood to do anything other than dump the weekly contents of our food scraps onto the heap and head home. I'm not a SAD sufferer, but the last two weeks of February and beginning of March are grinding away at my resolve to be outside.

But what was this? To my surprise the skies were a wonderful hazy blue with the low hung sun doing its best to gently warm the super-chilled soil.

The rest-bite from a few days without rain coupled with some decent winds blowing through the mouth of the Thames Estuary had dried up the heavy clay on the paths somewhat. Enough so, that it didn't clump and stick to my boots as I ambled up the path to my patch on Plot 40.

I like to blame the weather on the state of my plot at the moment, but in truth I have been a little reluctant to starting the "big dig" this year. Overwintered perennial weeds are scattered all over. The heavy rains have brought untold stones to the surface. Its not a pretty sight!

So I found myself pottering and stood their pensively scanning my unkempt weed patch over what to do. After several minutes I dared to open my shed and pull out the digging fork.

Thinking it best to test the high ground I went to the top end of the plot. With the first stab, the fork sunk into the topsoil. I turned the earth and smashed the clump with the back of my fork, then pulled out a few stones and tap roots . Wonderful I thought as it broke into a mash of dark crumbs - the soil is finally improving after a couple of years adding all manner of humous, compost, manure and mulch.

Two hours later and several layers of clothing removed. I cleaned down my trusty fork having done the first couple of honest hours work on the plot this year.

The Vim has returned and I look forward to getting back over at the weekends until British Summer time kicks in and I'll have a few evenings a week to play catchup.