It’s a misty day but the sun is trying its best to shine and it’s actually quite warm. So I’ve been in the garden, digging and planting. Naturally I have overdone it, and naturally I shall pay for it tomorrow, if not sooner. But it’s virtuous pain, and worth it for the good start I’ve made on this year’s veg growing.
In fact, the biggest job was not veg but soft fruit. I’ve dug out a small bed for a few raspberry canes: five summer-fruiting (Glen Ample) and five autumn-fruiting (Autumn Bliss). That was dug over, weeded, manured, and finally planted up, with the autumn canes pruned back. We’ll put up some posts with wires to train the summer ones and provide a framework for netting when the fruit starts to appear. We already have two apple trees, a pear tree, a damson (moved last year so hopefully back to fruiting this year), gooseberries and rhubarb, but I’ve wanted raspberries for a while.
I sowed some broad beans earlier in the year in our unheated conservatory and they’ve come up beautifully and made lots of roots. So I’ve taken a chance on planting them out. They’re netted for now to discourage the pigeons and squirrels from having a go.
Next to them, I’ve sown a shallow drill full of sugarsnap peas – also protected from birds and mice. Honestly, what no-one tells you when you start gardening is that it’s basically a war between you and every living thing that can find its way into the garden: pigeons, birds, slugs, caterpillars, blackfly, squirrels, cats. Also grandchildren, though they are slightly more trainable.
The cats have been a particular menace since we made raised beds. (Me: oooh, raised beds, now we can really improve the soil! Neighbourhood cats: oooh, giant litter trays! For us? How kind!) So the unplanted beds have been covered in a natural cat repellent powder, which makes the whole garden smell of garlic, and not necessarily in a good way. But hopefully it’ll put them off for long enough to find another place to crap, and they’ll stop digging up everything I plant.
My last job was to take all the other seedlings and transfer them from the warm house to the slightly cooler garden studio where they’ll get plenty of light and it’ll be easier to move them in and out when they need hardening off. I’ve plenty of tomato seedlings (sown and labelled by 4-year-old granddaughter who has magically green fingers when it comes to tomatoes), spring onions, salad leaves, and a couple of globe artichokes that will probably end up amongst the flowers. Then there are cosmos and phlox seedlings, and some lobelia and petunias that I’ve planted up from mini-plugs.
Looking round at what was already there, the rhubarb that was just starting to bud a month ago is almost ready for harvesting. I’m so glad I have this in the garden – it is almost (but not quite) too beautiful to pick.
Everywhere else I looked, there were things sprouting, budding and flowering: primroses, grape hyacinths, tulips, columbines, aquilegia. So much to look forward to! I love this time of year.