Yippee, we have passed the Spring equinox, we are now getting longer days than nights, oh joy and the clocks change this weekend so we will have even more time for gardening, and its Easter so we have extra days off. And lots of chocolate eggs. Ok I'd better calm down. Just to temper the excitement, the weather forecasters of doom are suggesting this settled weather is going to break just in time for the Easter holidays. Lets hope they have got that wrong.
I hope you have all been making the most of the settled weather, I certainly have hence the blog getting neglected as usual. We have had some gloriously sunny days here in Huddersfield but also some grey days where the sun has never made an appearance and its stayed chilly but even those days have been good for gardening in. Especially if like me you have been barrowing muck. Myself and a fellow plot holder got a delivery last year, but it gets dumped in a communal area and we have to barrow it to our plots. I'd put what I needed on my beds and the rest needed to be piled up to store for next year. I thought I had taken my half but chatting to Marion she said she had taken hers so the rest was mine. Well I wasn't going to complain (though my back did a bit) and let anything go to waste so I set to on sunday to get the rest moved onto my plot. This pile never seemed to diminish and backwards and forwards I went, the pile on my plot was getting so big now that I was having to use a spade to put it on top rather than just making a run and tipping it on top. Anyway lets just say I earnt my dinner that day, and a sneaky early Creme Egg. The one good thing is I won't have to do this again next year, I have plenty to see me through for a bit. So the beds just need a bit of a fork over but already for planting when needed. The plot is looking slightly greener and less bleak now.
I did manage to do a few other more pleasant jobs over the weekend. I cut down the old stems on my monster artichoke plants. The fresh foliage looks fabulous in the sunshine.
I pruned the gooseberry and redcurrant bushes and mulched those. Cut back all the dead foliage on the strawberry plants. Gave the over-wintered onions a light feed and removed the few weeds. In the cutting patch I had a big mass of self seeded Briza maxima, which is a lovely grass for foliage in bouquets, it is also good for drying. Also known as quaking grass it has oval-shaped flower heads which dance in the breeze. I dug these up and split them and made two rows in the plot. So that was nice and easy.
I planted some biennials last year but sadly the slugs, which have been so active over the early part of the winter at least, have made a mess of the Sweet Williams and I'm not sure they will recover. The wallflowers look ok. However on a recent trip to B&Q I spotted some nice packs of bedding biennials. I'm never that sure about B&Q plants, they sometimes look neglected and not well watered. But these looked newly arrived and in good condition. You could get 4 packs for £10, so I bought some sweet william, some stocks and some forget-me-nots. They were in little 'teabags'!
So most have gone at my plot, but some of the forget-me-nots have gone into my garden.
Also picked the first crop of the year, some rhubarb. I have two big plants now so will have loads. Last year I had a go at making some rhubarb wine, it should be ready to drink soon....
I've also been getting busy in the greenhouse, potting on a few autumn sown annuals. I've started hardening off the Larkspur plants which have made nice big plants now, I also have some Orlaya grandiflora, some poppies, Ammi majus, Scabious, Echium 'Blue Bedder' and some Calendula plants. Plus some Sweet Pea seedlings. But I've also started sowing some Cornflowers and Nigella. My chilli peppers are growing well and I've just pricked out the Tomato and Aubergine seedlings. The Celeriac and celery seeds have germinated. But I've had a few disasters, the onions that I sowed way back in January have failed, they germinated well and I pricked them out but they've not thrived and most have died. Oh well thank goodness for onion sets. Plus I had some Aeonium cuttings in my greenhouse from my sister and a couple looked sickly and a bit of investigation found the roots had been eaten by vine weevils, yuck so they have been chucked. I've repotted the others and am hoping to get some Nemasys to try and save them, but who knows. I'm worried about other things in the greenhouse now.
I'm starting back working at Bluebell Cottage Nursery this weekend, the gardens are opening for visitors for the new season. The garden is a real showcase for the lovely plants that Sue sells in the nursery. I'm like a kid in a sweetshop when I'm there. Come and visit and say hello!