The Early May holiday weekend is almost here and it’s a Bank Holiday like no other, this weekend marks the 75th Anniversary of V E Day and not only will we be continuing to stay at home and help protect our precious NHS front line team and key workers, we shall be commemorating all those who went before us, so many years ago.
Time at home seems to have given nearly everyone a renewed interest in cultivation and ‘growing your own’. Even if you don’t have a plot of your own it’s always possible to bring a little bit of the outdoors to your window sill. Try growing some seed in a small tray on damp kitchen towel to create your own ‘micro herb’ platter. Mustard and cress is the obvious choice but don’t limit yourself to this childhood favourite. Mangetout, sunflowers and even broccoli will grow quite successfully on a warm and sunny ledge.
If you have a window box, now is the time to get it looking its best. Instead of begonias or geraniums this year, why not try growing a few ‘cut and come again’ salad leaves or alpine strawberries. This perennial alpine related to the rose family will look pretty trailing down the ledge and the edible fruits will give a welcome addition to your morning porridge.
Even a small courtyard garden can be made into a vegetable plot. Carrots grow very successfully in pots and the additional height of the plant deters the carrot fly which is notorious for taking a nimble at your precious roots. Hanging baskets can become home to cherry tomatoes as well as strawberry plants and herbs. Peas and French beans will also grow in a nutrient rich compost, as long as the tubs are not allowed to dry out and the plants have support to climb.
In our garden it is time to remove the heads from spring flowering bulbs such as tulips as the alliums now take centre stage in the borders.
The potager has a regular hoe to keep fast growing weeds at bay. The salad burnet has been divided so that we may establish additional plants and we have dug up clumps of chives to re-plant along the sides of the borders to give us regular pickings. The sorrel is now growing rapidly and is perfect to serve alongside poached eggs or to be made into a soup. Any signs of flowering buds are cut away and fed to the hens or added to the compost heap. The lovage is already quite established and will soon need staking to keep the plant protected from heavy winds. We have already enjoyed several pickings to add a wonderful fresh spring flavour to our chicken stock.
The runner bean seeds were sown in the green house a couple of weeks ago, but it is still not too late to pot a few up for your garden. so the be now needs to be prepared and more sticks cut from the willow patch beside the river, so that everything is in place for these fast growing plants. We have saved borlotti beans and also a French bean called ‘Lazy Housewife’, from last year so those are also going to be sown direct.
The sweet peas that we over wintered are now established and have now been planted outside. They need regular support with twine which is a fiddly job but well worth the effort. A second sowing have already started to become established and have been pinched out to encourage side growth.
In the herb garden this weekend:
Continue to sow chervil and basil seeds as well as coriander and dill if you have them. Prick out any seedlings that have germinated from last month.
Try your hand at taking soft wood cuttings from the rosemary and mint.
Remember to give your containers a feed when you water them.