Things are looking up at Golightly Gardens – more of February and March’s no-shows are showing signs of life, including Jerusalem artichokes, sugarsnap peas, Autumn Neptune leeks, and kohl rabi. Again, it’s a bit of a surprise that they’ve resurrected themselves, but I’m not complaining.
I’ve also sown a few new seeds outdoors, most of which are already sprouting, including rocket, Royal Chatenay carrot, turnips, beetroot and red salad bowl lettuce. The soil’s warm enough now, I’ve checked.
The overwintered herbs are all out in the sunshine and putting on lots of new growth, and the overwintered veggies (Arctic King lettuce, Spring greens, PSB, WSB, Nantes Frubund carrots) are slowly starting to bulk up too. The Arctic King lettuce has a good sweet flavour so I’ll definitely sow some more in the Autumn, although next time around I might keep it in the greenhouse or under a warmer cloche to get it going faster.
Some older plants have started to bolt and been cleared too: land cress, Palla Rossa red chicory, Dwarf Green kale and one of the Brussels sprouts plants. They did us proud over the winter and I’d happily grow any of them again.
On a warm windowsill indoors, there are new seeds in the propagator: this time it’s various cucumbers, Defender courgettes, Yellow Crookneck summer squashes, and the last two Tromba d’Albenga seeds. It will be interesting to see what germinates, as some of these seeds are pretty ancient.
Making up for lost time
The older seedlings have been going outdoors on warmer, sunnier days when the temperature’s over 10 degrees and it isn’t too windy. Getting some direct rays of sunshine seems to have helped them a lot, and it’s a start on the hardening off process. Some of them are going to live under cloches when they’re planted in their final positions, so the timing’s not too bad. The rest will be going into pots, so if there’s a late frost warning then they can be brought indoors temporarily.
I’ve also sown some companion plant seeds, including different types of basil and some nasturtiums, into modules. They’ll go in with the tomatoes and squashes at the time of final planting. There’s also a bucket of ‘bee seeds’ which I’m hoping is about to germinate, and some tiny marigolds to pot on in the next few days.
It’s been a good opportunity to prepare the beds for beans and pumpkins too. It’s easy to do, just dig out a trench to about a spade’s depth and fill it with home made compost, then put a bit of finer soil on top. If you don’t have home made compost then throw in lots of vegetable peelings, tea leaves and coffee grounds etc instead – they help to retain water as well as giving out a few nutrients. You can add bean supports at this point too. Remember to give the ground a good few days to settle afterwards.
While I’m writing, various bean seeds are pre-soaking. It isn’t essential but it seems to give them a head start, and they need all the help they can get this season. The runners and French beans will go straight out under cloches, and the borlotti beans will need to be started off indoors as they need temperatures of 20°C to get going.
The weather’s been fairly dry over the last few days, which is bad news for the overgrown population of slugs and snails – hopefully the cold snap finished off a load of them too. Not taking any chances though, there are organic slug pellets and crushed eggshells all round those tender seedlings. I’ve also spotted the first few aphids, and given them a drench in dilute washing up liquid solution. Hopefully we won’t have too many pest problems this season, with early action and prevention measures.
How’s your garden growing at the moment?