Ah, Happy Spring Time foodie friends! The daffs are out. There isn’t a predicted frost for the next two weeks and it’s almost pancake day. It’s time to get planting.
I donned my wellies this morning for maybe the third time in 2019, but those other times were purely weeding and compost hefting so in spiritual terms, I consider today the first proper gardening of the year. I have quite the plan this year to up my efforts in self sustainability. This is partly cheered on by last year’s success stories of masses of rhubarb (best flavoured vodka ever) and my very own home grown potatoes on the plates for Christmas dinner. Due to some recent dietary changes and avoidance of all this pesticided, I’m also keen to try and grow as many of our own greens as possible at home. I don’t have masses of space, but I’m hoping to be able to stay stocked in chard and lettuce for much of the year with beetroot tops in a few months time plus bumper basil, dill and mint pots too. As always I will be throwing out some carrots, nursing my pear trees and singing sweet melodies to the gooseberry bushes. The big crap weedy patch will hopefully spring forth some mashed potato squash and I have a huge green container ready to attempt some horseradish………if only I can find anywhere selling some……
Jobs today started with a severe hair cut for the hazel tree to both give some light to the veg beds and create some lovely sustainable support poles for my tomatoes and sweet peas, which you will find more versatile and eco friendly than garden centre bamboo canes. Next up we thinned some weeds and bundled up some sticks to get the fresh compost bins on their way before the fun stuff- The Planting Of The Vegetables.
It might be ok to start planting outside at the moment, but British Springtime is unpredictable at best. It was 15 degrees last week with every liklihood we will still see some very close to zero temperatures before April comes, so I am sticking to starting my seedlings in the conservatory for now. You can check your seedpacks for instructions on most things but I find early March is the time to start off any herbs inside, with a mind to keeping them indoors for at least six weeks. I have carelessly run out of parsley seeds to am going with dill, basil and coriander for now in planters hat will go outside when it is consistently warmer. I’ve also done my first batch of tomatoes and carrots and also planted up a couple of pots with marigold seeds as companion plants (natural pest control) for said tomatoes. Seeds harvested from a mashed potato squash enjoyed over the winter then dried out on a window sill also got themselves buried in shiny new dirt today. Now, for the endless boring wait for the green shoots to break through.
There’s plenty of time left to start off your veg plans this year, seeds will do well if you wait to plant for another 3-6 weeks and still be good for a summer harvest. Or if you plan to buy starter plants you can wait for the better weather before you get going. Do plan, though. If I have learned one thing with my cultivation efforts, it is that you need a plan. A plan of what to plant, and where it’s going to go. If you do nothing else this week, get your seeds out, get a note book and sort out exactly in your head what you are going to do, and when you need to do it. This goes for pretties and non-edibles too because if you want the pollinators in for your veggies then you need to entice them into the area with some big, bright florals. Most garden centres sell wild flower/bee friendly seed mixes which you literally just have to scatter out then forget about. If you can’t handle the unruly prospect of wild flowers look at getting some potted lavender or petunias to add some colour and attract the insects. Blue and purple flowers tend to be the best bee magnets but if it flowers, then it’s a good idea, and you should grow it! But do plan before you plant. Jot a quick sketch at the very least, if only to remember what you put where. There is something rather gloriously elegant about sitting at the table going through one’s seed packets and noting down the efforts of the day and the patches of earth left to fill. It feels quite civilised and Victorian, even if you are still in your wellies and stinking of compost.
Having a plan through the year also highlights empty spaces that you could be filling with over-winter crops later in the year rather than just leaving your hard earned space for weeds. I’m pleased to see from this afternoon that my chard is fully back in action and good to harvest (from seeds planted last summer) and the jumbo garlic has thrived through the colder months and should be ready for digging up soon. Interesting pest control point- garlic plants seem to be highly effective at keeping the *&%^ing cats from utilising nearby bare soil areas as a toilet.
And on that note of the feline enemy, I’ll wrap it up here before we get sweary. Are you planting yet? What’s your growing plan for 2019 looking like? Let me know in the comments!