The sun is here, finally, after an unseasonably cold start to the month. On the plus side I haven’t had to water for quite a while, however , the weeds have taken real advantage, so strimming and mowing is a fortnightly event. It takes all day to do it properly but at least I have an audiobook for company. Earbuds work well inside a helmet with ear defenders.
I started to grow these poppies from a pack of seeds from Kew Gardens in 2011. There were a measly 8 seeds in the packet and just two of them germinated. They took years and a house move before they decided to flower and now they are an annual event. I have to be careful though because I put them in a stupid place where they can be chopped by a careless strim.
There are over 30 roses in the garden and all of them are in flower right now, so deadheading is a daily pleasure. It makes for a pretty compost heap too.
When I’m working in the vegetable garden I have two helpers. They live in hope that I’ll delve into their biscuit tin in the shed. Here they are sitting in the shade of the Colleen & Maris Piper potatoes.
This bed used to be a series of raised beds but this spring I doubled the size by removing the raised beds and incorporating a long no-dig bed on the right hand side. You can see that everything is doing very well despite being only three months old. I had help from lots of lovely people who came on a vegetable gardening course in March. One of them brought me some trombone squash seeds. They are in the foreground and are now climbing up the arch.
I haven’t grown this crop before but it has been a delightful revelation. Apparently the seeds can be reluctant to germinate but I had no problem using the milk bottle method. I sowed them and left the bottles outside from 31st December. They all germinated despite having been covered in snow. Now we are eating them, cooked for 6 minutes in salty boiling water then tossed with our friend Catherine Roque’s delicious olive oil and juice from Mike Bird’s lemons. They taste a bit like spinach but with a texture more like blanched samphire. High in potassium so a good cholesterol buster. I bought the seeds from the excellent Real Seed Catalogue
I’ve had some problems with young beans showing deformed leaves and being very slow to develop. These are snake beans and they haven’t really got going. They are in a compost I don’t normally use. I’d run out of my favourite Orgasyl and I had used all my home-made compost when I planted this trombone squash along with the beans. In theory both should have romped away. However beans are more susceptible to aminopyralid which is a herbicide used in agriculture. I have a feeling this was present in the compost I used - but how do I prove it?
I have frequently bought grafted aubergines in the past as they usualy develop faster and produce a good crop. However, this year I wanted to grow everything from seed so I’m happy to see the first of my aubergine flowers developing. This is variety Bonica.
This is the pupa of a Harlequin ladybird. My Fuji apple tree is the hot favourite with these creatures, even though there are several other varieties in the garden. These ladybirds absolutely love aphids, so I’m delighted to have them as this is a big year for aphids. The only problem is that the apple tree is a good 100m from the kitchen garden so I hope they find their way to the spinach and peppers which the aphids seem to favour.
We’ve already had lots of delicious Colleen potatoes which are the first of the earlies in this garden. I’m hoping the next ones to mature will be the International Kidney potatoes. That’s a very unappealing name for the much-loved Jersey Royals which can only be called that if they are grown in Jersey. After that we’ll have the maincrop Maris Piper then the late maincroppers, King Edwards and Kerr’s Pink.
In the foreground there are Gigantes beans which are white whoppers that we use in Persian and Lebanese dishes. Further back are stripey Borlotti beans which are great for Italian soups and stews. On the far left are the most wonderful new find for us. They are Jessy Sugar Snap peas from Real Seeds. You can eat them whole fresh from the plant where they are crunchy, sweet and not stringy and contain full-sized peas. Alternatively you can cook them whole - yes - in their pods, where they then outstrip any other pea for deliciousness. I can’t bear to save any for sowing next year as I sowed way too few, so I’ve already ordered next year’s supply. After that I can save my own for the following year.