22nd April, 2009

We are having above average temperatures so it's been very pleasant out in the garden.

First off, I planted the spuds (Dunluce, International Kidney and Kestrel). They were nicely chitted. They are all earlies, no maincrop this year. I felt I grew too many last year, not because we couldn't eat them but because they took up too much space. So this time it's quality not quantity.

The chits show the beginnings of leaves, so they are off to a good start let's hope.

It was hard work digging the trenches; just look at the picture below to see how lumpy the clay soil is. I hadn't really dug this bed over fully since I removed the turf the year before last. By that I mean I haven't incorporated a good amount of compost during the autumn digging, mainly because I ran out of compost. But I had planned to plant the spuds in this bed in order to improve the soil condition through digging a trench and adding a layer of compost to the bottom of the trench. Here they are ready to be covered over with soil which I sprinkled with Growmore fertiliser.

I pricked out the celeriac, I will have plenty to share with friends.

I thinned out the beetroot seedlings to one per module. The beetroot seeds are clusters so 2-3 seedlings develop from each one.

One of the cucumbers is showing signs of wilting leaves, I got this problem last year and lost all the plants. I understand that this could be stem rot. So, I'm watering from beneath to stop the soil getting too wet near the stem.

I planted out the peas. I felt I did this too early as the roots were not as well developed as I thought. But getting them out of the modules caused a lot of disturbance to the roots, so I won't do this next time. Instead, I will sow into a drainpipe and then slide the plants into a prepared trench. I've set up a net for the peas to grow up and also some peas sticks. It will be interesting to compare the two. I didn't set this experiment up intentionally, it's simply a consequence of running out of netting.

It didn't take long for the pea tendril to get a grip!

There is one rather thin asparagus spear so far. I won't be eating any until next year. I do hope that the plants get better established this season. A friend has kindly given me some of their spare asparagus spears (they have more than they can eat) which I have swapped for some of the celeriac seedlings (good deal I reckon).

This is the middle bed after the spuds have been planted. Lumpy clay soil. The Aquadulce broad beans are at the back.

Did I mention I had clay soil? I can make pots out of this! But it will serve as a record for me to see how the soil improves as I cultivate it year on year.

The coriander has germinated. I've sowed directly into the bottom bed which gets some shade, the idea being to promote leaf rather than flowers.

I have also sown runner beans (Lady Di), Borlotti beans ( a gift from Flummery ) and dwarf beans (Nomad) in pots in the greenhouse.

The courgette, squash and pumpkins seeds I brought back indoors from the greenhouse because the night temperatures are still quite cold.

I had a blitz and sowed some more carrots (Bangor) in the bucket, side bed and patio bed.

Toby Buckland on Gardener's World told us last week that parsnip seed viability declines rapidly. That might explain why last year's seeds had not germinated which I had started off on wet paper towel in the airing cupboard. So I bought some more, again a RHS garden merit variety (Tender and True,) and got them going using the paper towel method.

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