There is nothing like a sunny weekend pottering in the green house, to make you feel like spring has well and truly arrived. This mothers day weekend was absolutely glorious here in Yorkshire and I think it may have lulled me into a false sense of security. Being up north, our colder temperatures means that we are always a good few weeks behind our lovely friends the southerners, and at this point in the season I am always impatient to get started! Luckily towards the end of spring, almost everything has caught up and I realise there was no need to be impatient!
After a lovely Sunday morning lay-in (which with four young children was much needed!) I woke to the gorgeous smell of bacon, that Mr T had cooked for me to celebrate mothers day. He led me into the kitchen and had set the table ready to eat with our version of a breakfast muffin, The McTasker. The children had been silently hiding in the living room, and came into the kitchen in a mini procession, bearing gifts and homemade cards. Perfect 🙂
The children bought me ‘The Cut Flower Patch’ by Louise Curley for Mothers Day, and another beautiful book, ‘The beginners guide to floristry’. They have arrived at a perfect time too, as we have included a cutting patch on our allotment this year. After reading though I have decided that I might have to rearrange our allotment plan to accommodate some more varieties I would love to grow!
The children also brought me a huge bunch of flowers and a multi-pack of cheese and onion crisps – a joke present from Mr T, to make me laugh and celebrate my obsession with the flavour!
Dahlias, dahilas, everywhere!
The plant I am most excited about this year has to be dahlias. We started a little family tradition last year, (which I wrote about on my other blog here). Each member of our family chose a new flower for our garden, and last year I chose a dahila. I was shocked at how well it preformed and how easy it was to grow. It just continued producing the most beautiful flowers all the way up until late September. I would pick a few and the next time I checked more had flowered in their place, it was amazing!
I have written a little about the varieties of dahila we are including in our cut flower patch on our allotment plan, but I have just ordered some more! Its a really good job we have such a huge allotment (36m x 12m), and I really cant wait to see them bloom.
The first sowings in the greenhouse.
We decided to start our first seed sowings in the greenhouse. I have sown our squash & pumpkins varieties, and some flower seeds including Scabious, Verbena, Clary and Calendula. We also have sown our foliage plants Ammi Majus, Dill, Bupleurum rotundifolium ‘Griffithii’ and Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’.
In the last few days since I’ve sown the temperatures have dropped, and I think some of the flowers will struggle to germinate. I plan to give them around 10 days and if they are not yet through I will make another sowing.
I have pricked out my first variety of pepper and taken to the greenhouse. Although we are still getting frosts and I have a two backup plants on the kitchen windowsill. I am covering these ones with newspaper each night to protect them. This is just one variety, a sweet pepper called Corbaci. I planted these on the 4th of March and they have been at home on our bedroom windowsill. This is a bit of a test really to see how this variety fairs before I prick out the others.
I started these sweet peas indoors, but as they were germinating I read that they cope much better if they are not fussed with too much, so apart form pinching them out I am trying not to bother them. They were also growing so fast, and I am not quite ready for them yet (meaning that the cut flower patch is still full of weeds including couch grass, dandelions and docks…). I have taken them to the greenhouse to try and cool them down and hold them back a bit, slowing their rate of growth.
I have pinched out the growing tips, leaving two sets of leaves on each plant. Pinching out should encourage them to to stop growing upwards and focus on side shoots, therefore producing shorter bushier plants, with more flowers. This is the first time I have pinched out and it did feel a bit wrong to be honest, but they have survived well and are producing lovely side shoots!
There is still time to plant sweet peas if you want an harvest this year!
More Peas Please!
I have sown our first crop of peas! This variety is called ‘onward’ and if all goes to plan should provide us with a nice early crop in June.
They are planted into half pint plastic cups which are rescued from a local venue. We wash them and drill holes for drainage in the bottom. I have hundreds and they are the perfect size for sowing and potting on seedlings. They are free, reusable and I feel like I am doing my bit for the environment too, win- win! They also look pretty neat in the greenhouse in rows.
I have planted 3 seeds in each cup, and have 30 cups in total so a potential of 90 pea plants. These will be planted in one long row in the legume bed. Each row is 3 meters long, so they will be planted close together and given a support to climb up. Eventually this will be a double row, when the next sowing goings into place
This year I want try successional sowing of peas, so we have harvests right the way into autumn. I haven’t done this before, so its a bit trial and error, but I think we will need to sow new seeds every three/four weeks to have a continuous supply.
Little and often
We have been doing other work down at the allotment over the the last week or so, but mostly clearing rubbish from the plot and organising. There is still digging to be done, and we are lucky enough to have a rotavator so can rotavate as soon as I have cleared the perennial weeds that are creeping back in from the abandoned plots each side.
When I am at the allotment during the week, I have my little two with me most of the time. They love the allotment, but at 3 and 1 years old – caring from them is a full time job in itself!! We try to save weekends for family time and days out, but our weekends are usually pretty full anyway with appointments, party’s and the like!
They like to help, search for snakes (or worms as we call them) and eat biscuits, (perhaps the highlight of the outing for them!) Every job takes three times as long, with lots of breaks & snake hunts. I also spend a good amount of time rescuing them from bugs, or in the Avas case, mud – she HATES mud, and she screams if she finds any near her feet, which makes some of our visits interesting…
Still its amazing what you can get done when you chip away at it little and often, and the aim is to keep the experience fun for them too.
We are still new to growing, especially flowers! If you have any advice, hints or tips, please leave them in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!