Holding on for spring

Bunch of daffodils

Finally, there’s a warmth on the breeze. The world is waking earlier and earlier, and all over the garden the daffodils are singing, shoots are shooting, bulbs are popping their greeny growth above the soil and the forget me nots are sprouting up in every corner and crevice, ready to bloom.

And I’m not ready! E is now six and a half months old, and whilst we’re getting into a routine of sorts, I’m still finding it so hard to eke out a spare moment here and there. My seed packets were purchased in earnest in the darker months of winter, but there’s been no sowing, no planting, no potting on at all. My social media feeds are full of pictures of greenhouses bursting to the brim with seed module trays, sprouting onion sets and the lanky but lush growth of sweet peas.

But my garlic is still in packets, the potatoes are solemnly chitting on the windowsill and I have an abundance of spring flowers just waiting to be potted up to brighten the steps outside the kitchen door.

Hell, I even have trees and raspberry canes waiting to go in the ground. That is not good! Argh!

I really need to get a grip. Just an hour here and there should do it, but I’ve been so busy, and so full of cold. So I’m asking – as much as I want spring to arrive, could she please, please just hang on for a week or two whilst I (pardon my French) get my shit together.

I’ll do better, I promise…

Polyanthus, daffodils ready for potting on

In the meantime, look at these pretty little polyanthus primroses! These, along with the dwarf daffs and irises, will adorn the steps by kitchen door to create a little bit of spring cheer.

dwarf iris

I tend to opt for a more muted colour palette when it comes to polyanthus, steering away from the vivid purples, reds and bright yellows in favour of warm and soothing hues. And once the plants and bulbs have finished, I pop them out under the deciduous fruit trees, to help create a bigger and better spring display each year.

 

Dwarf daffodils in spring

Tete a tete daffodils emerging under the fruit trees each spring

The tete-a-tete daffodils now spring up in a carpet under the damson, followed by some later-flowering and paler-coloured varieties, as well as primroses, polyanthus, cowslips and oxlip. A couple of years ago I added some english bluebells, but have yet to see them flower. Here’s hoping.

Primroses and daffodils

Spring pots from previous seasons; warmer, serene colour schemes more in tune with nature

And here’s hoping to a spare hour and and there in the next fortnight.

Growing on a shoestring budget

Spring Border
As Spring arrives… sort of, between the grey and rain… I’m well aware that my maternity leave is approaching. And although I should have saved hundreds of pounds in preparation, the reality is that I know it’s going to be a tough slog getting through those months on statutory pay. So everything I’m doing now is in preparation for the leaner months, and I’m thinking about ways in which I can do things on a shoestring budget. Getting as much veg, herbs and fruit bushes in the ground now should help over the summer and autumn months at least.

I don’t mind doing things a little Heath Robinson… I remember watching The Darling Buds of May and loving Ma and Pa Larkin’s slightly rambling setup. And besides, I’m not a tidy person. Everything I do is always a little rough around the edges and that suits me – and the wildlife in my garden, I suspect – absolutely fine.

Last year I grew some lettuces in the big veg patch, and they were delicious… and weirdly enough, we had no slug issues. This year, I bought some bargain lettuce plugs from my local plant nursery and decided to pot them up by the back door in easy reach of the kitchen. I found a few old pots hanging about (who doesn’t have masses of pots hanging around?) and tried to use up as many large pots as possible. The bigger the pot, the less watering. I ended up having to use a range of sizes, but to be honest, with the amount of rain we’ve had watering isn’t my biggest issue right now.

lettuces in container

I placed them in a little spot in front of the conservatory that gets light for at least two thirds of the day in summer. It was looking completely ramshackle so I tidied it up and cobbled together a platform for the pots from some bricks and large slate tiles that we had to hand. Something I’ve learned over the years is that we can’t have anything like pots in direct contact with the ground, otherwise the black and red ants that love our sandy soil just move in.

I’m hoping to turn the slightly redundant space outside the back door and before the garden gate into a growing space. One side is really shady thanks to a privet hedge and and next door’s terraced housing access path. But I’ll just have to do a little research and figure out which herbs and plants will be fine in shade, and what I can fill up the sunny side with too. I’m quite looking forward to it, and doing it all on a tiny, almost non-existent budget seems like a fun challenge! She says. I’ll keep you posted…

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. 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 😀

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.