Greenfingers - April 2018

It’s early March as I write this, watching swirls of powdery snow blow horizontally across the garden, eliminating any thoughts of gardening until warmer westerlies arrive. Trays of water for the birds were frozen within an hour of going out. But I’ve seen a song thrush bashing a snail, lots of sparrows on the seeds, robin, dunnock, pied wagtail and a very smart fieldfare, pictured, which enjoyed the berries on the sarcococca. The dense evergreen leaves of the shrub provide some protection from the wind and predators, and it will be interesting to look out for sarcococca seedlings popping up randomly in the garden over the summer - as is the tendency with holly seedlings.

The 30-odd yew seedlings taken as cuttings a couple of years ago will be planted out during April, eventually giving one of the flower beds some structure. And there is another batch of cuttings coming along for next year.

I shall be looking to take a few lavender cuttings as well as other plants as green shoots, empty pots and bench space appear.

In the veg plot, potatoes can be planted, and seed sown outdoors in prepared beds for chard, carrots, cauliflower, leeks, beetroot, lettuce, peas, radish, turnip, and spring and pickling onions. Seed can be sown indoors for the more tender plants such as tomatoes, peppers, marrows, courgettes, squashes, celery and aubergine. Shallots, onion sets and garlic can also be planted outside.

With limited space in the garden for veg, we tend to grow varieties such as Mangetout and sugar snaps, though many fail to reach the dining table because Deb grazes on them as she passes by. These need to be watered well once they start to flower. Starting the seed off in successive sowings helps to extend the cropping season.
Pete Smith