The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Annie's lost the plot....

Under a blanket of snow!
Its started snowing in the early hours of Friday morning and its been snowing ever since. I thought we had a lot earlier in the year but this is incredible, made worse by a brisk wind which is causing big drifts. I walked up to the allotment this afternoon as I realised that I'd left the spade there and we needed it to clear some of the snow! It is one pristine view, you are can't even see where the raised beds are.
It was up to our knees in places. This is the most snow I've seen for a very long time.
In the garden I got the ruler out (sad I know) and on the lying snow on the bench it was 8 and a half inches, ~21cm. But it is much deeper than that where it has drifted.
Poor Bob, I can't even show you any pictures of him as he is just not going out! But I can't blame him the path onto the grass is deeper than him. We've cleared a path to the side so he can at least get out. The snow is blowing into the back door making it hard to even get out of his cat flap.

 My poor sweet pea seeds, will be shivering in the mini-greenhouse.
The front garden is covered too.

Looks set to stay for a while as well as staying cold most of the week.

So I've lost the plot for a while so I'm taking advice from Bob and snuggling in for the rest of the day and he's an expert.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Spring has been postponed.

Where has Spring gone? The Spring equinox has now passed and it still feels like winter here in Huddersfield. Apparently we have had a colder March than December or January with average temperatures (day and night combined) in March of around 3C. Phew thats cold, well I think its just the fact that its been so constantly cold. No wonder the plants are taking their time peaking their noses out of the soil. I've still got lots of snowdrops in flower, the hellebores are loving this weather, but I've only got a few daffs out yet and the tulips are only just now showing the tips of their leaves above the ground. 
We have had the odd nice day, usually when I've been working and have had to look longingly out of the window ruing the missed gardening time. This time last year in the garden and the allotment we were having a lovely warm spell. I was sat in the garden sowing seeds and enjoying the sunshine. We must remember though that we had a very cool April with some snow
We gardeners do like to complain about the weather but I think we have been justified this year so far. Any weather that delays us getting growing is bound to get us down. Just like the plants we are bursting to come out of hibernation and get growing. We have been dormant for too long and want to get back in the garden. I have done a bit of seed sowing mostly things that I've started on the propagator upstairs in my back bedroom (oh for a greenhouse). Then starts the daily checking for the first signs of life. The Tomatillo's won the race for first seed to germinate this year. I never get bored with seed sowing, it thrills me every year.
I've sown some chilli seeds and you need to start these early as these are so slow to get going they need a long growing season. Last year I sowed 3 varieties 'Cayenne', 'Habanero Orange' and 'Basket of Fire'. I didn't get a huge crop so I decided to try and overwinter one of each and see if I could get an earlier crop this year. They are perennial plants so you should be able to keep them growing. I kept them in a bright spot, but reduced the watering, keeping them on the dry side. They looked a bit straggly so I cut them back a bit and removed any yellowing leaves. Then I repotted them and gave them some feed and they are now sending out new fresh green leaves and there are some flowers already. Whether they will fruit I'll have to wait and see. But I thought it was worth a try. 
Only time will tell whether I will have some early chillis.
I think I will wait a bit longer before I really get sowing properly. Its forecast a fair bit of snow here tonight, tomorrow and Saturday and for the cold spell to remain for at least another week. Our local weather forecaster on Look North did tantalize by saying that we could have some milder weather for Easter but that may just mean rain. You can't win with us can you!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

All talk and no action

I realise that most of my posts recently have been about garden visits and the like and not much about actually doing any gardening and to be fair that is largely because I haven't been doing much! Before last Saturday the last time I went up to my allotment was 3rd February and that was really just to pick up my delivery of potatoes. When I went that time I found that despite using netting the pigeons had demolished the last of my kale and all I really had left growing were some leeks. I certainly need to plan better for winter crops this year.
I have been doing some things to prepare for the growing season ahead, my potatoes are chitting, I've bought a new cover for my small greenhouse, I've bought my seeds and seed compost and I've got plenty of trays and pots ready for my sowing.
But last weekend we had weather that every gardener craves, clear blue skies and sunshine, despite it still being a bit chilly it was perfect gardening weather and it coincided with a free weekend as well so all the better.
You have to have a good imagination in February/March and remember that the plot won't always look like this, especially when the weeds start growing again.

We've had a relatively long dry spell in Huddersfield and the surface soil is quite dry but still very moist underneath. My main aim this year is to improve the soil. I shared a big delivery of well-rotted manure with a fellow plot holder in December but unfortunately there were a few things going on at that time and the weather has just been so bad so I didn't get chance to get it on the plot before the new year which was a bit frustrating. So I used this good weather to get this started.
Last autumn I had also sowed some green manure on one of the beds and that needed digging in so that was my first task. I first used hand shear to cut the foliage down and then dug it all into the soil. Here are the before and after photos.

Elsewhere on the plot, I dug up the last of my leeks.
The rhubard is coming on well and I'm looking forward to a proper first crop from this plant.
I gave it a good mulch as well as round the redcurrant and gooseberry plants and gave the alpine strawberries a good haircut.
Then spent all of Sunday afternoon barrowing my manure onto the remaining beds, warming work but very satisfying. Will dig in soon.
It was great to get two long afternoons in at the plot, even if I was aching a bit when back at work on the Monday, but I'm so glad I did as its gone cold again this weekend, there was a very thin covering of snow this morning and the wind is bitter today.
Anyway I have finally made my first sowing of the year. I've sown some Chillis, some Celeriac (which I'm determined to get right this year and will be protecting them from slugs), some purple flowered artichokes and some Tomatillos, which I grew on my previous allotment but not tried them here before. I also started my Sweet Peas, some Broad beans, plus a few salad crops and pea shoots.
Not gone too mad as I know its not going to get warm anytime soon. I also planted my onions and shallots in modules to get them started before I plant them at the plot. The Garlic that I planted direct at the allotment is nowhere to be seen and the over-wintering onions are looking a bit feeble. Can you even see them in this picture. Last year the over-wintered onions did better than the spring planted ones but not sure they will this year but we'll see.
Spring is definitely on its way but its very stop and start with all this cold weather. Its like the plants have a way of pressing the pause button and putting growth on hold till the sun comes out again. The snowdrops are still going strong in my garden and the crocuses are just starting to flower. That is very late for nearly mid March. The tete-a-tete daffodils in my wall pots are just starting to flower but the other daffodils are very much far behind. The tulips are only just peaking their leaves up above the ground. Oh well there is one thing that gardening does teach us and that's patience.
Finally I'd like to thank Jo from The Good Life for nominating my blog for blog of the month in February and thanks for all the new visitors I hope you'll keep visiting.
Also thanks to Chel at Sweet Briar Dreams for nominating my blog for a Leibster award.