This month has been a complete wash-out, literally; and when it wasn’t raining, we had overnight frosts. Everything is weeks behind and the soil is still cold to the touch.

First, a look at the saracennia (pitcher plant). This has been overwintering in the Potting Shed as it needs a couple of months of cold temperatures before it starts its new growth cycle. It’s been re-potted twice (July and November 2020) since I bought it in December 2019, in nothing more than the moss my brother raked from his lawn. Then, at the end of March, my favourite TV gardener said it was time to cut off the old pitchers to allow new ones to grow. So I did.

I mentioned (in my Six on Saturday of 8 May) that I’d planted out five of my pea seedlings which were outgrowing their root-trainers. Before I could plant them out, I had to remove the plant ‘fleece’ I’d put on Raised Bed A to warm the soil. Several days of rain had reduced this to lacy fragments which had to be raked up from the surface on the bed.

I replaced this with weed-membrane until the weather improves. By the middle of the month the first lot of peas has settled in, and I planted the remainder of the seedlings in the second bed (and sowed more direct into the gaps for a succession crop). But kept them covered to protect from frost and strong winds until 23 May, then planted out my three climbing bean plants, and added beetroot, a salad bowl lettuce that had run out of space, and added some spring onions.

And I’ve planted out half my ‘Cupani’ sweet peas (holding 4 plants in reserve). I decided to plant them on one of the arches in the raised bed nearest to where we sit to have morning coffee – hopfully they will give shade as well as scent (though there isn’t much to smell on that single flower).

Most of the plants I grew from cuttings in 2019 (lavender, rosemary) and never got round to potting on, did not survive this last winter (outside). So I am wondering what to grow in these pallet-planters.

As it happens, I found another use for them after clearing a space by the oil tank to put my potato growing bags. Apart from the onions (nearest pot) and the remains of last year’s rainbow chard (terracotta-coloured pot), the others contain spent compost which I beefed up with chicken manure pellets and planted up with stuff from the greenhouses – red-veined sorrel, curly parsley and radish.

We’re now eating our own lettuce and salad leaves – still in the greenhouse in pots at the start of the month. Red salad bowl (left) is developing its coloured leaves (shaded from the sun by the windscreen sunshade from my car), The green leaves are round lettuce and cos lettuce and really should be outside as they grow too leggy indoors. With a bit of luck, I’ll provided us with salads for at least six months.

On Sunday 9th May, I potted on my sweetpeas which had outgrown their root trainers and had their tips pinched on a monthly basis. Adam Frost on Gardeners World (Friday 7th May BBC2) had potted his on (supported with hazel twigs) three to a pot. I have attempted the same – minus the hazel or any other twigs.

Jerusalem Artichokes

These have really come on in the last few weeks and need to go into larger pots but first, I’ll have to dry out the bags of compost I had stored outside and which now weigh a ton!

Cabbage – Golden Acre

Sown on 27th February, a few seeds in each of the centre modules have yielded five healthy plants. Once I begin trench composting in the allotment bed, I will plant a succession of brassicas above the trench.

I’ve taken the covers off my greenhouse shelving; this gives me more room for seedlings (I can turn the trays 90 degrees and fit two per shelf) and should stop them getting too hot.

10th May and I sowed some spinach seeds outside in Raised Bed B (apparently spinach prefers shade, so the spot is ideal with little sun until mid to late afternoon).

And here are my radish and beetroot seedlings (which hare now planted out)

And, with root trainers going spare after planting out the peas, I decided to start off some carrots, since it is too wet to sow them direct after two weeks of heavy showers leading up to mid-month.

On 20 May, I moved my leeks from modules into pots. Hopefully they’ll grow and spread out a bit before I finally plant them out in the garden.

Last year, we bought a pot of mixed flowering plants from a house in the village, sold in aid of the Riding for the Disabled charity. It cost £5 and gave us months of colour and scent. When most things had died off, I emptied the pot and rescued four plants, two scented pinks and two begonias (possibly). They survived the winter and are ready to pot up again, though I might try and split the pinks

2021 WILL be the year I get someone in to render this eyesore – if only it stops raining!

Herbs

Finally, some of these have grown large enough to be potted on. It was my brother’s birthday on 26th May; he’d already had elephant garlic bulbs and Jerusalem artichoke tubers as early presents, so I planted a pot with greek basil, sage, and Welsh onions for him, and gave him five of my bulb baskets.

and planted a pot of greek basil for myself too. It’s a half-hardy annual that doesn’t grow outside in the north, so it’s on my kitchen windowsill. It smells delicious!

And the destruction of our new neighbours’ garden goes on. A week after they moved in, this was the state of their front garden; not to mention all the disruption caused to traffic with – at various times – up to three tractors, a mini-digger, and two farm trailers blocking the road at it’s narrowest.

I can see it from their point of view – if you’re going to have work done, do it now and then enjoy it. It’s just a shame they needlessly ripped out several mature shrubs and trees with never a thought of trying to save them or give them away to various community gardens around the area.