It’s a rookie error, really. Getting excited at the first flush of warm weather in March and sowing lots of seeds. Seeds which then develop into seedlings right as the weather turns cold in April – which it inevitably does – at which point they either grow too leggy as you wait for the soil to warm up, or they stall or die off. I don’t usually fall into this trap of sowing too early. In other years I’ve sown as late as the end of April, waiting patiently for the unpredictable weather to make up its mind. No idea why I was so wooed by the March sunshine this year. But I was.
As you can probably guess, we’ve had some rotten weather across April and these first two weeks of May. Rainy or showery most days. Cold and cloudy at best. We’ve had maybe two properly sunny days in the last three weeks. One day this week it was 11°C. Bloody outrageous for May.
And the seedlings – sown far too early by this numpty – have suffered. Quite a few have died. Just stalled, stopped growing and then withered off in disgust. It happened with my beets and chard – and, worse, with all of Rob’s tomatoes. (He grows the tomatoes and I tend to do all the other veg.) We’ve done a second sowing but have pretty much accepted we’ll have to buy tomato plants at the market this month. It’s not a huge deal. We often buy in chilli and basil plants. But Rob the Tomato King’s pride is hurt. And I’m pissed about my chard, as this was my first year growing it, and I doubt I’ll find chard plants at the market (beets, yes, but never seen chard). I’ve sown some more seeds and we’ll see what happens…
As for the rest of my seedlings – brassicas, courgettes and squash – they’re very small. Squint and you’ll see my brassicas in the photo. Tiny, aren’t they? They’re desperate for some sunshine and warmth. I really hope they survive as I’m trying two new varieties this year (asparagus kale and tree cabbage), and attempting Brussels sprouts for the first time in years. Pray for them!
What else? My broad beans are a bit smaller than I’d expect, but otherwise unbothered by the cold and about to flower. My climbing beans have mostly been eaten by the snail army (again, I’ve sown some more). And my many, many dwarf beans (I love growing dwarf beans), planted out a couple of weeks ago, are hanging on by a thread. I may have to – say it with me – sow some more.
It’s not all bad. The snails don’t seem at all interested in the 50-odd nasturtiums I planted out last week (we grow nasturtiums as a salad crop). Our raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus have been loving the rain. And in the flower garden it’s been perfect weather for moving plants and getting them established in their new home. We made a huge new flower bed in April, and moved a lot of our perennials and bulbs over there. All part of making space for a future pond.
And everything is intensely green. Fat with greenness. Looking over the garden or up at the surrounding hills is a feast at this time of year.
So you could say gardening is currently a game of two halves – the fruit and flowers are having the time of their lives, but the veg wish they were on holiday in Marbella. Don’t we all.
This is the nature of gardening, I know. There will always be failures and lessons to learn. (Don’t sow too early, in my case.) But even if it all goes tits up (which it won’t, not all of it), there’s always next year. Nothing in gardening is permanent. Well, except for the asparagus and rhubarb, and they’re doing just fine.
How does your garden grow this spring? Are you also plagued by unfriendly weather?