As we approach the start of British Summer Time, this is one of the busiest times in the gardening calendar. Seed trays and pots are jostling for space in the greenhouse and the cold frame is standing room only. Sweet pea plants are being religiously brought out during the day to harden off, whilst a threatening storm sends us in a flurry of activity to safely return tender seedlings back inside, if we had chanced our luck with a sunny morning. Days are a frenzy between the kitchen and garden and we LOVE the anticipation and excitement that the new season brings.
During late March and early April, we are planting courgette seeds, chervil, chives and salad leaves for the kitchen. In the cutting garden the zinnias, cosmos and cerinthe are being sown into modules.
For the kitchen …
Although this time is known as the ‘hungry gap’, with regards to homegrown vegetables and fruit, we are fortunate to be able to gather chives, rosemary, wild garlic, rhubarb and spinach in the greenhouse. The hens are laying aplenty and there is freshly baked bread each day, so we are not going to starve!
In the borders.
- This is the last chance to split any herbaceous perennials that have become too large in the beds. It may seem harsh to dig these up and remove half the plant but it will give you a better display in the long run. Ideally share the unwanted clump with your neighbour and they are bound to return the favour with a pot of honey at a later time.
- Pinch the tiny heads from the ‘Tete et Tete’ narcissi but leave the green to continue feeding the bulb for the next seasons growth.
- Get on top of the weeds now and it won’t seem such a chore throughout the coming months.
In the shed, check the over wintering pots…
Love to be pot bound but they will still need top dressing and splitting every three years or so. Use an old saw to remove them from their cramped conditions as you ease them out of their container.
Will still need protection from the frost but the plant will now benefit from top dressing, as well as a layer of grit for protection (we oyster shell that we also buy for the hens).
Due to lack of space, we have over wintered ours on a sunny shelf in the potting shed, but they have survived and now need cutting back. Now will be an opportunity for re-potting and moving to a sheltered spot in the green house to encourage growth.
Finally, in the cut flower patch…
Prepare your bed for sweet peas and create a wigwam or arch in readiness for the plants.
If you saved them, take cuttings from your over wintering chrysanthemums. These will give you beautiful blooms in the autumn. Or treat yourself to a few plug plants now. These can be encouraged to grown on, cut in the late summer or autumn and will also give you the opportunity to take your own cuttings next spring.
Grow an abundance of foliage plants such as daucus carota, ammi majus and alchemella mollis from seed. You will love to arrange in a jug or favourite vase.