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

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Enchanted April?

Its not really been an Enchanted April this year, what a month, I think we've only had about 2 dry days. I've struggled to get up to the allotment as the days when I've been able to go its been chucking it down with rain and the days when it has been fine I've had other things to do. It couldn't be more contrasting to last April when it was completely dry and sunny. I wouldn't have minded the rain so much apart from the fact that it has been so cold as well. I managed a quick evening up there last week when I planted by Broad beans that I had sowed in loo rolls in early March. I'm planting my normal variety 'Aquadulce' which did well last year and also a crimson flowered variety. 

I also planted my red onions which I had started off in modules (that was not really needed this year, I did it as last year we had a really dry spell and they took ages to get going, thought I would speed them up into root). It was a refreshing evening with the whole site to myself.
The peas that I planted a week or so ago haven't faired too well the slugs have cut down some of the plants, I've sown some more so may have to replace them.
I've been doing quite a lot of pricking out, potting on and more sowing at home but I haven't sowed my squash or courgettes yet as I'm running out of space in the greenhouse and back bedroom! I need to move some things out but it seems too cold. I'm going to sow them this bank holiday weekend at the very latest.
The rain has been unbelievable though, some days it has rained all day, there have been some really heavy downpours which if you get caught in you just get drenched. Many of the Yorkshire weather stations are reporting record rainfall for April. 
This made me laugh the other day when I was walking home across the small park near my house, two ducks making a home on the football pitch. Its certainly wet enough for them.

If you want to forget this weather for a while then I thoroughly recommend that you read The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim. 
A book about two married women who completely out of character decide to reply to an advert in The Times, to escape from a gloomy cold London to a Wisteria-scented and sunlit Italian Riviera. They are joined in their adventure by two other women who have their own reasons for escaping the English spring. The place seems to work its gentle magic on each of the women in ways they never expected. They are transfixed by the beauty of the place and it has a soothing, calming effect. The descriptions of the gardens, flowers, scents and even the gentle breezes just make you feel like you are there yourself.
Escape today even if only into a book.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Normal weather resumes!

Well the snow has gone, didn't last much longer than a day but it was a surprise and caused much disruption on the Yorkshire roads.
This is a picture taken as the snow was going, when the sun came out.
 You can see that the rhododendron at the bottom of my garden is in full bloom now, well not quite, weirdly there is a stripe across the middle which is not flowering yet, not sure what is going on there.
So the long Easter weekend has bought grey skies and cool winds but at least it has been mostly dry here in Huddersfield apart from some drizzle in the air. Have been doing some useful jobs at the allotment, I've put a structure up for my first sowing of peas. I sowed pea 'Meteor' and 'Purple podded' on the 7th March and placed them in the mini-greenhouse. They all germinated and I've been hardening them off this week. Normally I grow my peas up a structure made from bamboo canes and pea netting but it always drives me mad putting that up, getting tangled up and last year it didn't feel very sturdy and collapsed a bit. So this year I have made a more substantial structure, still from bamboo canes but strung together with twine and taller than normal. Took a while to do but much less fiddly and I think it looks better than the bright green plastic pea netting.
I know some people say that peas are so cheap and easy to buy frozen, but for me, they are one crop I always make room for as I love the taste of peas straight from the pod. Its always exciting when the first plants of the new season go in. 
My broad beans that I sowed in autumn are flowering now so it shouldn't be long before some beans appear.
I also planted my potatoes. They were all ready and chitted.

The varieties I've gone for this year are Pentland Javelin (first early) and Cara (maincrop). In the post that I wrote when I received the seed potatoes in the post I discussed the varieties that I had grown last year, one of which was Vales Emerald. I hadn't enjoyed the taste or texture of this variety and they had broken up on cooking. This was mentioned on Gardeners World on Friday when Monty Don was planting his potatoes. He noticed that some of the varieties that he had grown had done the same and that though he'd blamed the variety at first and was going to do a potato trial this year. It turns out lots of people had this problem and that the weather conditions in late spring into summer last year were to blame. We had a very cold May and June and it was proposed that this had an effect on the structure of the potato. So maybe I was a bit hasty at giving up on Vales Emerald as it was a very healthy and clean crop. Maybe I'll try it again next year.
I've planted my spuds at the bottom of my plot in ground that I didn't use last year but I have given it a good dig over and added plenty of compost. We'll have to see how they do. You can see its still a bit weedy on one side! But I'm planning on putting some proper paths in, in the next week or two, all being well so will sort that weed out.
So a useful day at the plot today.
By the way talking about Gardeners World, is it just me or is anyone else loving the many appearances of Nigel the dog! He's the real star of the show....

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Whats going on...

Well I wasn't expecting to have to get my snow boots and ski coat out again this year but have woken up to a snow covered landscape this morning. Snow in April well that's weird, maybe not that unusual but it is when we have had record spring temperatures in Scotland just a week or so ago and the fact that we were all gardening under clear blue skies and warm sunshine last week. OK fair enough that was unseasonably warm but to go from that to this seems crazy.

The warm weather rushed some plants into growth so we had tulips and daffodils flowering at the same time, bet the tulips wish they hadn't been in such a rush and had stayed tucked under for a few weeks more. Its horrible out there, I usually like the snow but its very wet snow and the wind is just icy.

Other plants don't seem too impressed, my lovely rhododendron, which had only just started flowering.

My cherry blossom which cheered me so a week ago is sulking abit now.
What effect this weather will have on my plants we'll have to see.

Its still snowing too so who knows how much we will have, luckily I've no travel excuses today I'm working at home. Don't think Bob will be going very far either.