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.ย 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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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 โ€“ 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.

Thank You – and an Update on my Veggies

I just wanted to start this post by saying thank you to everybody that left me comments after my last post. I do take the time to read them, and although I may not always reply individually, I am so thankful that there are people out there that take the time to say kind, thoughtful and supportive things. It means a lot. I often read out comments to Rich or phone my Mum to tell her what people have said. It’s partly what my blog is about – sharing my experiences with other people so that they can decide whether doing whatever I do (I guess you could call it a stab at The Good Life) is for them. Whether it’s writing to inspire others, to help people by sharing my experiences, swapping tips and advice, spreading awareness or just providing someone with a bit of mindless ramble to read on their coffee break – it’s the comments that keeps spurring me on to do this.

So thank you to each and every one of you. And thank you also for sharing your experiences too – as henkeepers, united we stand, divided we… eat our eggs!

ANYROAD…

Yes. Things have been a bit odd around here. The hens were such a focus for me and now it’s a bit strange having all this time where I’m not having to think or worry specifically about something else. I’ve now got the time to go for an evening walk in the nearby woods – we skirt the fields as the sun dips in the sky and then take the main path back through the woodland itself on the way back. The wild bluebells are starting to appear, and yesterday I found some wild garlic growing. I really wanted to plant some in my ‘woodland’ garden but I won’t be taking it from the wild. I need to find a supplier.

Speaking of which, at the weekend, being hen-less I decided I couldn’t just mooch around. So I tried to make the most of some reasonable weather and got sowing. I managed to put in some more onion sets, although one bag had been left out in the warm conservatory and had withered and gone soft. Bah! I also divided up some Cristo garlic cloves and plonked them. OK – I know – completely wrong time of year. But to be honest, if I don’t get them in now, I don’t know when I will.

I also sowed some Autumn King carrot seeds and a parsnip seed blend that Victoriana Nursery Gardens had sent through late last year. I know by now that the parsnips will take what feels like an age to germinate, so I’ve laid a load of chicken wire over the big veggie plot to stop the cats digging and the birds scratching. I WILL keep my seeds in rows this year!

I also mowed…or was taken for a walk by the mower, aka The Beast That Walks. Big job. Crap back. Rich had to take over halfway through.

Then there was the woodland garden seed sowing. I’d bought a woodland seed mixture (ragged robin, oxslip et al) and, running out of daylight, was a bit lazy in my sowing. I roughly raked over some bare soil, sowed the seeds, raked them over again and gave it a quick water. Who knows whether it’ll work. It hasn’t in the past, so I don’t know why I did it again. I’m hoping with perhaps a little more attention (like watering the seeds at least once more) and the fact that many of the plants are suited to dry shade, perhaps Lady Luck will do her thing.

Next on the list is sowing a mountain of sunflower seeds along one of the back borders. We want to encourage bees and hopefully, if we have a good summer, the sunflower heads will provide the birds with some ‘free food’. We’ve got the archetypal Giant individual sunflowers, as well as a dark-red and orange mix that grow around three foot tall. But before I can sow, I’ve got to clear a whole lot of nettles. I hate that job.

So what else?

Early potatoes are starting to get going now, but I’m erring them on to grow faster. Hopping from foot to foot and gesticulating at them and hope they’re taking notice.

My Cosmos are looking leggy because the rabbit keeps going on sitting on my seed trays and making them grow sideways. Rich, please can you make my greenhouse staging now? Cosmos = lots of bees.

Victorinia Garden Nursery’s Calabrese (Cabbage? I can’t remember!) selection are sowed and germinating nicely. Romanesco broccoli have done fantastically well in germination, and primo cabbages are super-fast at growing. Only 5 runnerbeans germinated, but seeing as I don’t really like them, and Rich only likes them raw, I think 5 plants are fine.

The butternut squash have been crap – the packet is a year old and I don’t have a heated propogator, so I reckon its a no-go. I might have another go, but I think I might just give my Mum some seeds and ask her to do the honours. Then later I’ll transplant them into some straw bales (stay tuned for more!).

My leeks look utterly unimpressive – like frail bits of thread, but as it’s early days I’m hoping they’ll come good. I’m also growing rosemary to add to my herb garden…the herb garden that I haven’t even started sowing the rest of my herbs for. Oh geesh. So much still to do.

THEN there’s my assortment of chillis and peppers. These are just growing in the conservatory and being complete buggers. But I seem to do this every year – forget that they too take an age to germinate. Patience, Lucy, patience.

All this food. I just can’t wait to start EATING it! That, I think, is possibly the best part. Or the bit where you pull the carrot/parsnip up and it’s huge and it just smells so good. Or where you take a look at your cabbages and are so surprised by how much they’ve grown in just a few days. Or you come back to the house with a trug stuffed with fresh food for tonight’s dinner. MMmmm.

I’ve still got so much to do, but am fast running out of space. So this is it. this is where I start telling you about my attempts to make the most of less space. This is, after all, the Smallest Smallholding. Even if we do currently lack any bi-ped, feathery residents. Later this year. I promise. After I’ve had a holiday. Good grief, I need a holiday!