We’re off, Gardening Bore Gang. I’ve sown the first seeds. I’ve cleared the veg beds of last year’s debris. I’ve been catching up on Gardeners’ World episodes…
It’s safe to say I’ve recaught the gardening bug. It goes this way every spring. March rolls around and I feel reluctant to get out there, intimidated by how much there is to do. Then as soon as I get stuck in, I remember that I actually enjoy it. Before you know it, I’m obsessed all over again, constantly reading about gardening, making lists of what to do, and boring Rob with ideas. (There are few things more terrifying to Rob than me saying, ‘Hey, you know what we should do in the garden…’ and then I casually suggest a massive job like it’s a stroll in the park. He loves it.)
So what have I sown already?
- First batch of broad beans
- Nasturtiums (which we treat as a salad crop)
- Lettuce (my nemesis, but I keep going every year for sadomasochistic reasons)
- Kale (scarlett and dazzling blue)
- Asparagus kale (first time growing this variety, which produces kale leaves, but also asparagus-type shoots)
- Tomatoes (four varieties this year: black cherry, sungold (new to us), rose de berne (also new to us), and feo de rio gordo)
- Garlic chives (we already have regular chives in the garden)
- Parsley (I’m trying giant parsley this year)
- Parsnips (first time growing for a few years)
- Brussel sprouts (which I’ve never grown successfully before but I live in hope)
- And I’m chitting some lovely pink-skinned potatoes that I bought from the supermarket
In the next few weeks I’ll be sowing:
- More broad beans
- Beets and chard
- Climbing beans and dwarf beans
A little after that, once it’s warmed up, I’ll sow the last of the veg, which is always courgettes and squash. I’m not bothering to sow basil and chillies this year – we’ll buy plants from the local market (I’ve learned from experience that they’re better than those I grow from seed).
For anyone who’s new here, we also have lots of established fruit in the garden in the form of rhubarb, strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, blackberries, apples, quince, plums, and sour cherries. And we have a perennial herb bed with sage, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Oh, and an asparagus bed.
Typing it all out, it’s quite staggering what we’ve built. When we first moved here we inherited some lovely established trees, and a peony by the front door. That was the extent of the garden. The rest was just grass, occasionally grazed by a neighbourhood donkey.
I’m also attempting to grow quite a few flowers from seed to beef up our sad, neglected flower beds. But since flowers always get pushed aside in this garden in favour of food, I think we can assume my flower success rate might be a bit iffy.
My next job, now that I’ve cleared the veg beds, is to turn over our giant compost heap and attempt to unearth some usable compost to spread on the beds. (Our whole compost situation is in flux since we took down the polytunnel and built the greenhouse. Our existing compost area had to move and has been in a temporary heap ever since. This year, fingers crossed, it will move to a new, permanent home in the garden.)
With the beds freshly mulched, they’ll be ready for planting in April. But there are already a few treasures in the ground. While I was busy clearing the beds, I found the first exciting signs of life:
- A self-sown chamomile in the herb bed
- Some spring onions migrating in from next door’s garden
- The first wild garlic leaves coming up
- Tiny coriander leaves (sown last autumn)
- Some Welsh onions that I thought had died, but it turns out have been happily clumping up without my noticing
- The rhubarb poking its way through
- And lots of plum blossom
As you can probably tell from all the breathless lists, I’ve reached that manic phase of the year where I enthusiastically throw myself into growing everything everywhere all at once. (Not that it will all work. There are always failures.) Come back in a couple of months’ time, when I’m struggling to find space for everything. When the bindweed and snails show up. When my back is seized up from all the weeding. Ask me then how I’m doing.
Actually, I’ll probably still have a slightly mad glint in my eye. It doesn’t really fade until October, when I’m all gardened out. But I might have calmed down on all the lists…
And if you’re wondering what Rob’s been up to while I’ve been beavering away in the garden, he’s been doing some exciting stuff in our kitchen (we’re reconfiguring it slightly to make space for a new oven). Then he’s got to do some finishing work on the greenhouse (like most of our projects, it’s been 95% finished for a while). And there’s this winter’s wood to chop (we’re so late on that task). He’s a busy boy. So I’m Head Gardener this year. Who are we kidding? I’m always Head Gardener. But this year, I’m also the Digger, Weeder, Odd Job Woman and Tea Boy. Good job I’ve got the gardening bug, eh?
How are your garden ambitions shaping up this spring?