Monday, February 23, 2009

Give peas a chance

The change of weather in the last few weeks has been remarkable. The big freeze gave way to flooding roads in Herts and Essex but now there's no sign of either. A new burst of growth has sprung forth thanks to the milder days and nights - you can almost taste the spring in the air. The vibrant red of the forced rhubarb is startling against the drab brown earth; the bright green shoots of the garlic seemingly appearing from nowhere. 
We're shortly to have building work starting on the house, which necessitates the relocation of 2 huge water butts. Since they will not be re-connected to downpipes until early summer (and we're predicted a bit of a hot one this year), I've been getting very nervous about the prospect of having no water available for the plot. So, we spent what seemed like hours transferring water, one bucket or watering can at a time, from one butt to another. Gradually emptying one, then moving it up the garden and refilling it...and repeated this with a second. I'm sure our neighbours think we're mad - it must have looked like some kind of back yard 'It's A Knockout!'.
But back to the veg report: broad beans approx 3-6 inches high - some kind of support will be needed soon; the garlic is going great - 11 of 12 cloves planted are racing ahead; and the weather was so good that I was able to plant out the purple podded pea seedlings. These have been seeing out the last few weeks in the greenhouse swaddled in bubble wrap. And they look great on it!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The white stuff

Wow - I will never doubt a weather forecast again. Snow - lots of it - landed on my veg plot on Sunday night. I wasn't around during the week, so could only worry from a distance about what was happening to my broad beans and spring cabbages. I spent a good half an hour this morning checking out the situation and excavating the veg from beneath their snow blankets. They look a bit squashed but not too bad. They're so tough! The sun came out just as I took a photo of the garden scene - broad beans in the foreground beneath the fleece, cabbages behind them. Let's hope this weather doesn't continue - I want to get out there planting things!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February flurries?

A couple of hours of work in the garden saw the last raised bed filled with top soil and rotted manure. We added 3 new beds in December to double our growing area from last year. The bean trench has been dug (after finally deciding to grow the runner beans up an existing sturdy trellis rather than battle to put up temporary cane supports again) and is now part-filled with kitchen waste.
So, everything is ready for plants to go in the ground now - but obviously that still won't be for a couple of months yet. 1st May is the projected last frost date so I'll have to bide my time until then. The seedlings are keeping me occupied in the interim - the photo here is of a summer purple sprouting broccoli seedling about 2 weeks old. They're currently living happily on my windowsill.
The scotch bonnet chillis are showing tiny tiny little signs of germination and I've sown some yellow pear tomato - they look so cute on the seed packet picture!
So now it's time to sit back and wait for the forecast Russian snow blizzards to arrive. It's certainly cold out there and there are a few snowflakes floating around, but no real sign yet of a full-on snowfall.