|One cowslip plant has self-seeded to become a large patch in our orchard -|
stakes mark the outlying plants to prevent them being 'mown out'
After a more than
unusually warm end to March, with accompanying drought, is there anywhere that is not now
soggy and waterlogged? And it’s likely to remain so, and cold with it, for a
while yet. Take a look at today’s BBC Weather website – and click on the
link to weatherman John Hammond’s explanation on why this is happening. The damp conditions have actually favoured our expanding cowslip patch, begun from a single (purchased) plant five years ago - not one taken from the wild.
irritating when you cannot even get onto the ground to sow seeds, which is
where raised beds come into there own – particularly good I have discovered for
elderly gardeners if you have them at double height. You can now acquire them
this way; mine started off as singles last year – it’s perfectly possible to
add another layer – I converted from single- to two-tier to benefit my early potatoes (and there's still time to order and plant a late crop). Sowing seed was easier, too, less back-breaking when bending down.
|Sowing seed in my double-tier raised bed last Saturday (21st) between showers|
Last Saturday (21st
April) I sowed half of one bed in the Courtyard Potager with salads, using a length of wood to mark out
drills at 5in (13cm) intervals – closer together than recommended; but that’s
the beauty of a raised bed system – you don’t have to leave space for
cultivation or hoeing weeds; the crops grow into each other and potential
weed-growth is suppressed. This is what my salad patch will provide in a few
short weeks: Spinach F1 Lazio Babyleaf, Bulls Blood Beet, red picking Lettuce Granada,
Lettuce Cos Pandero (try this as a substitute), Greek Cress, Rocket Runaway, Radish Jolly and Spring Onion Lilia.
|Half a raised bed devoted to young salads - in the foreground, are mixed|
cut-and-come again lettuce; pegged pots keep fleece from touching seedlings
After sowing, and
covering with just a light dusting of compost, the bed was covered with plastic:
the soil was already sufficiently damp that watering was not needed and warmth
from whatever sunshine emerged would help germination. Waterlogging would
certainly have occurred had I not used this bubble plastic.
|Pegging down the bubble-plastic to protect the newly sown bed from 'intruders'|
The seeds are
already emerging and the plastic has been removed to be replaced by a cloche –
more to keep off birds and cats than the rain! With such speedy germination, I
was reminded of the excitement of two of our grandchildren when, seven years ago, they spent part of the summer clearing a patch of ground for their own
raised beds. Children want immediacy; so the seeds I sowed last week would have been
ideal for such a project. Perfect in fact to encourage any child to eat green
veg and salads – they will try what they have grown themselves, though these
two are very used to home-grown veg.
|Clearing a weedy patch of ground so we could give each grandchild |
their own raised bed - they subsequently sowed and planted veg (and strawberries!)
|Getting ready for visitors to the Dobies stand|
Show Garden Special:
I discover that the Dobies display at the Malvern Spring Flower Show (May 10th-13th)
will focus on edibles: ‘Beat the Spiralling Cost of Food’ is their theme on Stand OS564, Plant Pavilions. The
team are busy building a small garden with a colourful 'psychedelic'
feel. It will highlight Dobies fabulous and high quality
veg varieties which are much cheaper to grow than to buy, therefore
triumphing over the spiralling cost of supermarket foods! Price reductions on
Dobies seed as well, so buy your Show tickets here. I can't wait.
Next week sees the publication of the May
2012 edition of the e-newsletter, and the following week (10th or 11th)
we'll be blogging live from Malvern.
Labels: courtyard potager, cowslips, gardening with children, Malvern Spring Flower Show, salads, seeds, vegetables