Sunday, 11 April 2010

Spring has Sprung!

I think Spring has arrived!  It's certainly been warmer this week and now the daffodils are in bloom with their sunny yellow cheerfulness!  The crocuses aren't much to chase away the winter blues but sunny yellow always brings happiness to me!

With this warmer weather it's also time to think about getting into the garden - tidying it up, pruning, digging, planting.  All things I can't bear to do if it's cold, wet or windy outside!

When we first moved into this house I was keen on growing my own veggies.  Did not attempt much in our first year.  Our second year led to the construction of two raised beds for veggies.  Last year, I started gardening in all keenness and enthusiasm.  By late summer interest with the garden had waned as I discovered a new hobby - craft workshops.  They are mainly around card making in different forms, stamping and embossing mainly but I have learnt parchment craft and beading too.

Was looking forward to an afternoon of beading today (we learnt to make a lovely bracelet in class yesterday.).  Hubbs had mentioned how nice the weather was outside and I figured I'd best go out and get my free fix of vit D. 

We keep three chickens in our back garden and they are garden destructors!  They nibble most things green - which is fine if they only stuck to grass but they ate the tulips last year and we did not get a single flower!  They also dig and scratch the flower beds so there are bark chips and soil in all places but the borders!  After sweeping the patch I thought I'd set to work on the veg beds.  I dug over and raked these about 3weeks ago.  Would be even better if I'd put some home-made compost on it too - but I was too lazy.  Anyways, as I'm now 23wks pregnant and my belly is not staying hidden under my clothes anymore, I figured I'd best stick to low maintenance veggies in the beds.  They are raised but only about 6 inches so you still have to kneel to attend to them.  They are 1m wide so stretching forward to reach the other side is a necessity also.  I can imagine this being a problem in the coming months as my melon sized bump grows bigger! 

So, what did I plant?  I don't often stick to rigid spacing of veggies - I thought the idea of raised bed is cramming veggies in small spaces?  I have planted 40onion sets (Stuttgarter) in veg bed 2 and with the remaining 1/2m x1m space I also popped in 4 courgette seeds.  Yes, early I know, but hey ho, if they germinate then YAY!  If not, well, I'll stick some other squash/courgette in later.

Veg bed 1 is another low maintenance plan with sweetcorn and sugar snap peas.  I think I ended up putting 18 sweetcorn seeds in and finished the packet (Lark F1 - very nice they were too last year!) and in the other half of the bed I put in 60 sugar snap peas in.  I usually germinate these indoors under damp kitchen paper but I am being lazy again!  I have some spring onions that live permanently in a corner of this bed but the chickens have been pecking and trampling on it.  I have pea/bean netting thrown over each bed to keep the pesky digging chickens out.  There are netted side panels that hubbs built a few years back.  They were intended to keep the local cats using the beg beds as giant litter trays and it's great for keeping chickens out too - as long as you cover the top as the chickens will hop/fly on to the side panels and jump in if they had half the chance!

I have also a pot/tub garden by the side of the house.  This came about as the chickens would eat the pepper plants in previous years that were grown on the patio.  They are partial to their leaves and also anything red such as ripe tomatoes!  We have a tub of asparagus and this year is year three so it's the long awaited sampling time!  2 pots of strawberries, 2 troughs of goji berry shrubs (got 'em for mum but she said I could grow 'em in my garden - why did I bother?!?!).  I have also planted up a potato bag with 5 rooster potatoes and two small bags with Charlotte potatoes.  I like grow your own spuds.  So easy and I love the delight of finding 'gold' under the dark soil - well, finding potatoes actually!  I now have a tub of 18 baby sweetcorn (maybe too many here - but hey ho!); a pot of kale (nero di toscana - praying that don't become slug food yet again!); pak choi and 2 pots of choy sum - different varieties.  I still have plenty of seeds to sow but they'll have to wait til I'm back from hols.

Oh, and I'm germinating a few seeds indoors.  I have 4x courgette clarita; 6x courgette romanesco latin; 3x butternut squash and finally 3x squash turk's turban. 

All in all a busy afternoon's work and my back aches!  Wish someone would cook me my roast leg of pork for dinner but that's only going to be done by me!

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