Growing in April

sloe blossom

I’ve finally starting my growing season… in more ways than one! Bump is steadily increasing week on week, and I’m now feeling the baby kick more and more. It’s a strange, fluttering, bubbly feeling that I absolutely adore. We’re officially half way through now!

Primroses and daffodils

The days are getting longer again and I’ve finally found the motivation to get on with growing. The daffodils are out in force and the tulips that I planted in the borders are starting to show through. I’m sure in no time it’ll feel like the accelerator is on and everything will just explode, but we’re not quite there yet.

calabrese

So I am trying my best to catch up on my extended winter hiatus and get ready for a summer of the Good Life.Β Rich has started to put in the polytunnel base plates so hopefully by the end of spring we’ll have a functioning polytunnel to grow in too. Meanwhile, I’ve been pottering around trying not to do too much too often (frustrating), but I’ve managed to sow some carrots under cover, got some peas and calabrese waiting to go into the ground, and some onion and shallot sets just taking root in modules in the greenhouse.

onion & shallot sets

I’ve already sowed some cosmos and mina lobata, and I’m hoping by the end of the week to have some sweet peas potted up. I see the social feeds of other grow your own aficiandos and I feel so behind… but gone are the days of beating myself up about it and really, now, it’s just motivation to do more!

I’ve also ordered some chick peas (garbanzo beans) to try and grow myself. It will probably work out cheaper just to buy them dried and pre-packaged in bulk, but I fancied doing something a little different this year… plus, the pretty delicate flowers the pea plants produce will look good in the plots too πŸ˜€

Lastly, I’ve also got a couple of gooseberry bushes to find some space for. I opted for hinnonmaki red as I fancied the idea of tucking into the sweeter, blushed pink fruits later in the season. Of course I’m not expecting a heavy yield, but it’s just a good feeling to be expanding my growing repertoire. And any extra blossom and flowers ahead of fruit in the garden is good by me – something else for the pollinators to feast on! The sloe blossom (blackthorn bush – see top pic) is already out despite the chilly temperatures, and the bees are loving it. Can’t ask for more.

Polytunnel Planning

I don’t have time to be bored these days. Not when there’s so much to do at the Smallest Smallholding. This weekend we totted up the hours working outside, but the time we’re putting in is really starting to pay off. I spent most of the weekend working on my hands and knees, using a hand fork to dig out several barrow loads of annual and perennial weeds. Using a hand fork saves my back – I would have been crippled after half an hour of digging with a fork.

Polytunnel ground work

We now have a nice neat and very brown bed of bare soil. OK, so it’s not the prettiest bit of garden to look at, but THINK OF THE POTENTIAL. Because that’s where our lovely sort-of-brand-spanking-new polytunnel is going to go. We must have got the polytunnel around a year ago, but we’ve struggled to find the time and capacity to clear the polytunnel site properly. And in that intervening year-or-thereabouts, the labels have washed off and the instructions have gone AWOL. Luckily, First Tunnels have some handy online videos, so we’ll have to do our best with those.

But first, we have to work out where the polytunnel beds and path will go. I’m thinking that we’ll need some weed suppressant membrane and then gravel… or if I can find a few extra pounds, some blue slate chips. The same for the outside of the tunnel, as we won’t be able to strim any stray grass easily around the outer sheet. Ideally I’d have some raised beds inside and move out my greenhouse staging for any seed growing I’m inclined to do. But this year because I know I have had so much back-to-basics work to do, I’ve tried to keep the growing simple – onions, garlic, potatoes etc – and keep the focus on getting everything properly sorted out, under control and ready for next year’s growing bonanza (because, you know, it will be a mega harvest and I will no longer be spending stupid amounts of money on sub-standard commercially produced pap from the supermarket grocery aisles).

I am hoping that we can get a ‘polytunnel team’ together from family and get the thing up at some point this year. My mum suggested an ‘erection team’ but then quickly withdrew her suggestion. Or at least, renamed it. After we sniggered a lot. Once the polytunnel is up and running, Mum will nab our greenhouse and I’ll use the greenhouse site for another much-needed tool shed, with room to grow little bits and pieces in pots around it. I’ll probably paint the shed some cheerful colour, stick a gutter and waterbutt on it, and try to grow a climber up it. Maybe even have a hanging basket off the front for some tumbling tomatoes. I’m trying to think of ways to turn everything into a productive space because I am so sick of doling out money. I just want to disconnect from so much consumerism and my polytunnel plan is a major step in that direction.

Onwards and upwards, as a dearly departed friend would say.