6 May 2017

April in the Veg Patch - End of Month




May already!  It's a time I subconsciously look forward to every year.  In my head it symbolises the turning of a corner weather wise, putting a first foot on the path to summer's lush colourful gardens and prodigious (or not) amounts of home grown food. It should be the start of being able to plant out. Did I mention that I was an optimist?

Back in the real world, the weather has been very disappointing this past week. I've unpacked my winter coat and pressed it into service. And my gloves. If I used an umbrella, that would have seen action this week too. I'm not complaining about the rain (after a dry spell, rainfall always makes me feel like dancing about) but I'd like the sort that's followed by sunshine (and rainbows, please).

I've remained resolute in the face of warm weather earlier in the month and sown seeds indoors only. No rushing around flinging protective fleece over plants for me. I'm trusting that plants catch up and have therefore only sown inside. (Broad beans being the exception as they're made of sterner stuff.)

Windowsills are now filling up with seedlings - I get almost giddy with excitement at seeing seeds germinate and check on my little babies daily. A few of the seedlings are almost ready to pot on before being planted out mid to end of May and I've started a cut and come again salad bar which will live on my balcony for ease of access. (There will be bigger salad leaves in the garden.) I'll be doing Facebook updates on the salad bar as I fully intend to embrace the Veg Plotting 52 week salad challenge this year. The original salad challenge took place in 2012 but I eat a lot of salad so I want to try and keep it going throughout the year and will be looking to Veg Plotting for guidance.



The veg patch garden is looking pretty lush with all the perennials that were transplanted last year.  I had meant to have a cut flower patch but that space was quickly taken up with several pollinator friendly perennial or biennial plants that I moved. A year on and I'm having second thoughts. As pretty as Centaurea montana is, I'd rather have swathes of California poppies ... and I'll have room in the middle garden for the Centaurea. It's essential to keep a few bee-friendly plants in the veg garden so I need to find a balance between annuals and evergreen perennials.  I'll park that thought until the autumn as both the bees and I are enjoying the colour fest of Cerinthe, Erysimum Bowles' Mauve, alliums and Honesty. Foxgloves will soon be flowering and achilleas, antirrhinums and geums are also already in flower.

On the veg front, kale, chard, wild rocket and purple sprouting are still providing supper ingredients; I've also shared a total of eight asparagus spears (with 3 more being cut tomorrow for a tart). I don't think they're entirely happy where they are as I expected to have more spears than that! I suspect regular watering is fairly crucial. Hopefully by next month I can add broad beans, peas and yellow podded mange tout to the list as I've been nurturing some very healthy plants on my balcony.


What I'm most excited about this month though is the appearance of fruitlets on the pear trees!  It won't be a huge amount (no surprises there, then) but I counted at least 12 pears just standing in one spot.  I'm not sure that the plum trees will rise to the challenge but soft fruit is looking very promising. The gooseberry bush is teeming with fruit (first time on a 4 year old bush!!) and the strawberries are covered in flowers so hopefully there'll be a happy tale to tell there in a few weeks. Blossom on strawberry plants is a good indication that it's time to mulch around the plants. I'm going to try Strulch this year; I'm told it's a mineralised straw mulch with a texture that helps to deter slugs and snails. Might be good around beans and other veg too.  It's not available everywhere but luckily there's a garden centre, fairly local to me, that stocks it.

This is such a busy time but I absolutely love seeing it all coming together and throwing off the winter drabness - it seems that the garden knows we're heading towards summer even if the weather can't make up its mind.

Apologies if I've got behind in reading other blogs - 
I often read but am too tired to comment! I hope to have a big catch up this weekend.



18 comments:

  1. It's brilliant at this time of year isn't it. Bees galore, blossom and tiny fruitlets everywhere. No plums for me either though. There was very little blossom on the tree again this year. The other day I saw a lot of damage to the foliage that looked like pigeons to me. It made me wonder if they ate the blossom. I didn't really look too closely at the time, but it occurred to me when I saw that they'd taken the new leaves that they might have had the flower buds too. It's been chilly here. My sugar snap peas have hardly grown at all and I made the mistake of direct sowing my runner beans. I planted the leftover six beans in the greenhouse and the difference is incredible. Six strong healthy plants versus a handful of tiny yellowy shoots. Living and learning! My sweet peas were put out too soon as well, so I've bought a couple of pots to replace them. Hope you have a lovely Sunday. CJ xx

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    1. Your thoughts about pigeons eating your plum buds have made me think too, Claire. I always see little blue and coal tits eating the aphids in the branches, especially in the plum tree. I think you may have a point about them eating the buds as there are usually plenty of tiny fruit buds to be seen ... but then no fruit! I think it's still too chilly for plants to thrive outside (certainly this past week in London) but they'll all catch up when the weather warms. I'll look forward to reading about fantastic progress at the end of May for you!! C xx

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  2. I have been trying achocha again - last year was a dead loss - and thought you'd be interested to know that the seed you sent me is still very viable!

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    1. I hope the achocha plants grow for you this year Lucy. I wasn't going to grow any last year but had two self-seeded plants from the previous year and they grew massively well, despite a lack of regular watering. Good to know the seeds are still good. I recently sprouted some seed from 2011 as a few people had written asking for some.

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  3. We haven't had any real rain but lots of windy weather. Even on sunny days the wind has kept the temperatures down. Let's hope once the weather improves we have some good growing weather.

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    1. Whatever the weather there's a downside. I was really pleased to get lots of good drenching rain rather than the occasional drizzle that we've had before. Even now it will soon be time to fill the dustbin water butts again for veg patch watering. Yes, good growing weather would be most welcome!

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  4. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. xx

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  5. The berries are so interesting!

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    1. Gooseberries can have quite a sharp flavour but I'm growing a variety that are supposed to be sweeter - and red, when they mature. I'm really looking forward to having some to eat this year although I've read that foxes also like gooseberries! There seems to be a garden pest for everything!

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  6. Caro, the flowers are lovely - what is the purple green succulent type flower please that has a bending type habit? I've seen it in a Cornish garden and always mean to knock on the door to ask the name! Veg sounds like it's coming on - has been a fairly slow start hasn't it - here too I have lots of seeds ready and peas are looking really good, flowering already, so fingers crossed. Where are your asparagus? Do they tolerate some shade?? X

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    1. The flower you ask about is one of my absolute favourites, Simone - it's Latin name is Cerinthe purpurea but it's also known as honeywort. Each flower has two fat seeds in its bracts which fall (or can be collected) once they go black. Bees love this plant and the veg patch has never been without it since buying one little plant seven years ago. It's very chilly here in London at the moment so I'm glad I've grown everything in modules - there will have to be a big planting day in a couple of weeks! The asparagus crowns are growing in the veg patch between two blocks of flats. They get about 6 hours of sunlight when it shines, otherwise the light is pretty good and open. I think watering is the problem and weeds. xx

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  7. That's all looking good and productive. I am in the 'hungry gap' and return from the allotment with nothing other than parsley. But seeds are germinating and fruit is visible and beans are climbing- I too love this time of year.

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    1. Ah, I wish I'd got my beans out and climbing but have still to do that - so many seeds to sow and so little time (as usual!). I'm about to pull out the last of the chard so will be down to kale then. Bad timing on my part as I should have had some salad leaves and radish by now!

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  8. The plants in your garden do look more advanced than here. We managed to have salad for 52 weeks last year. We went to a talk from Spring seeds a few weeks ago and it has encouraged us to eat salad every day since. Sarah x

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    1. I envy you your talk with Sea Spring Seeds - I expect it was given by Joy Michaud who is very inspirational. I get quite a lot of my seeds from her, especially the chinese leaves. At the moment I'm still eating bought in salad (apart from a few leaves from the garden) and really looking forward picking my own in a few weeks. x

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  9. I always enjoy catching up with what's growing for you, exciting time for sure! I am amazed at all the fruitlings this year, apple, plum and pear. I dearly wish it would rain though, we haven't seen rain for three weeks and the plants are suffering.xxx

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    1. It's unusual to complaining about a lack of rain this early in the year but, yes, I know exactly what you mean! I'm back to using the watering cans when necessary - so important to keep seedlings moist - but need to refill the water butts already. I'm really hoping that all this early promise of good fruit harvests is realised - it would make a nice change to be eating other fruit than sour cherries!! C xx

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Caro x

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