Monthly Roundup: April 2021

Raised Bed preparation

Raised Bed A

I tackled this bed mid-month, hoping that we’d seen the last of frosty nights! The first thing was to clear away all the daffodil and narcissi pots to give access. Second – the temporary removal of the arch. Third, remove everything else and prune the fuchsia cuttings along the wall.

I rescued as many brassica leaves as I could (for our evening meal), then dug everything out, apart from the purple sprouting broccoli. I weeded, hoed to brake up the crust on the soil surface; added loads of chicken manure pellets; added the compost from five growing bags (my failed experiment to grow salad crops over winter), and raked and hoed everything again.

I’ve used a row of bricks to separate the fuchsias from the veg bed, added a ‘fleece’ layer (to start warming the soil) topped of with upturned hanging baskets to discourage cat activity, and replaced the arch in a new position – at the front of the bed where it will – hopefully – allow easier access to peas and beans (and provide some much needed shade while we have our morning coffee – once the beans have grown). All in all, a good morning’s work.

Raised Bed B

I didn’t get round to the second raised bed until last Sunday (25 April). I pruned the fuchsia cuttings in that bed, there are also foxgloves which I’ve left. Again, I added a row of bricks to keep them separate from the vegetable bed. This is the bed where I planted my shallots last year, so they couldn’t be disturbed and I left their ‘cage’ in place for protection. Again, everything was hoed and raked. I dug out two rogue Japaneses anemones plants, added more compost, moved the arch and covered the bed with cages and upturned hanging basket (these allow small birds to still scavenge for worms and insects, but keep the cats off). I was joined by a robin who flew off with a beak full of small worms before I could photograph him/her.

Sowing more seeds

15 April

More seeds sown and some seedlings potted on. Seeds include cucamelons, radish, beetroot, carrots and round cucumbers. A week later and the radish are sprouting.

Seedlings re-potted are cabbage ‘Golden Acre’, and red salad bowl lettuce. I’d really have liked to plant the lettuce outside, but it’s still too cold so they can grow on in a large pot for now.

22 April 2021

The sun is out, but there is no warmth to it this morning. I’ve sown more seeds – courgettes (Soleil F1 and All Green Bush) , purple sprouting broccoli (early) and two rows of rocket.

Peas, Beans and Butternut Squashes.

I’ve sowed peas and climing beans in root trainers this year (as I did with the sweet peas). I planted one seed per module, sixteen of each. Most of the peas germinated and are growing well. I wonder if I should pinch these out?

The beans have been less successful; slower to germinate due to cold nights, I think I have four plants, but will sow another four seeds direct in the ground. Though I froze four bags of beans last year, we still have three left and, to be honest, they’re not very nice (stringy and no flavour), so will be going in the compost bin when the others develop. We’ll eat them when we pick them so I don’t need lots of plants.

The butternut squash is a dwarfing variety. Two out of four seeds have germinated. We love butternut squash – and that does freeze well. I’ve been freezing bought ones, peeled and cut into small chunks, spread on a tray to freeze then placed in a bag. Ideal to take one or two handfuls to add to soup or vegetable mash.

Fun with Fruit

Raspberry (Yummy) has flowers and is spending her days outside on the patio while the sun is out and insects are flying. I don’t want to put it in a larger pot while I’m moving it about (and I don’t know how large it will grow this first year) so I’ll gradually go up in size once it’s safe to leave it out overnight.

Jerusalem Artichokes

After unpacking the Jerusalem artichokes at the start of this month, I passed six to my brother and – temporarily (because they were already sprouting) – planted my own five in medium-sized pots and put them in the greenhouse. On 26 April, I noticed that FOUR are already showing some growth above the compost. I’ll leave them where they are for now but will keep checking the bottom of the pots. When I see roots apear, I’ll transfer them to something larger – I’m still not sure what!

Five is probably too many, three would be more manageable for the limited space I have. If they grow, I will probably keep only four to grow again next year (to allow for one or two duds).

Around the garden

Front Border

The other dwarf narcissi have opened and have the most glorious scent. Again, no idea what they are.

And while bulbs are still flowering, the London Pride also has flowers – and they shouldn’t until June.

Shady Border

Still waiting for the first clemetas montana buds to open. Perhaps a rise in temperature would swing it. No chance this week according to the forecast. Last Saturday a Facebook ‘Memory’ popped up from 2019, when this clematis was in full flower. Last year, it didn’t flower until early May.

Before I could start clearing the second raised bed, I had to make room for my bulb pots; this meant removing other pots containing compost and weeds from behind the garage. I emptied all the old pots into the wheelbarrow and sifted through them to remove weeds and old roots, and tucked the narcissi and daffs in their place. Next year, I hope to have most of my bulbs in the new bulb baskets, which will be easier to stack when the foliage has died down.

My brother gave me this grass two years ago. I left it in the pot and somehow it was placed on top of another pot; as a result it has put on plenty of roots and doubled in size, so it was time for it to have its own pot. Given the length of the roots, I decided my one remaining ‘long tom’ pot. The grass is supposed to turn bronze in autumn, but I can’t say I noticed, but it was in shade.

Space Invaders

Not the 1980s electronic game but birds nesting in our bathroom roof. We’d noticed small pieces of insulation blowing around the yard as early as February, but neighbours are always having work done so we thought it had blown in from elsewhere. The last month, I heard something scrabbling in the roof and thought it might be blue tits. It isn’t!

It’s either blackbirds or rooks jackdaws or starlings. They are in the corner which is behind the soil stack. I suppose I should be grateful it’s not wasps again.

The old and the new

Probably the last view of the ‘blue’ pots, and a look at the perennial sweet peas from last year, which I’ve corralled behind some plastic trellis to encourage them to grow up and not out.

But I have made a start on gathering kitchen waste to start trench composting at the allotment. It’s already filling up nicely and we should be making a trip to the allotment within the week.

4 thoughts on “Monthly Roundup: April 2021

  1. You’ve been busy, Eileen. We’ve got those space invaders too,and the worst comes in September after they’ve eaten blackberries!
    Rain so badly needed has arrived, but it interferes with our plans to visit Lismore Castle Gardens. Paddy was the sensible man to check forecast before booking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s always something to do, Eileen. We had a good while in the garden yesterday but it’s pouring now so it will be a day indoors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At least while it’s raining, we’re not having frost 🙂 I haven’t poked my nose outside the back door this morning, let alone paddled to the potting shed, so a day indoors for me too. If I can make a decent stab at my final assignment while the weather is poor, I can get outdoors when it improves without feeling guilty.

      Liked by 1 person

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