|Seen lurking on a Festuca glauca grass yesterday - lurking with intent?|
With the end of month post in mind, I took a walk around the veg patch gardens yesterday in the chill sunshine to check on progress. It's good to know what might need to be protected if we do have a cold snap.
|Clockwise from top left: cherry, plum, pear, cherry. Apples not showing yet.|
Next up, raspberry canes: I've left one old cane at 40cm in each batch every year and found this is a good way of having early fruit, with the new canes producing fruit into later summer. As expected, the old stems have fat buds about to burst into leaf, the new canes are just bright green leaves sprouting out of the soil. Quite a few a long way from the parent plant; they'll have to go. I grow Autumn Bliss, a popular primocane variety (late summer fruiting, no need to tie in the branches), but have been increasingly disappointed with the quality of the fruit, although last summer the small fruit was perfect for jam :) Funnily enough, the children don't seem to have the same high expectations that I do. This year though I'm raising my game and last weekend I bought 5 new canes of Polka; this is another primocane that allegedly has large, juicy berries. Keep the faith.
|Soft fruit doing well: new rhubarb, honeyberry, blueberry, strawberry.|
Last year I bought a Honeyberry plant at the RHS spring show. They're an alternative to blueberries but don't need to be grown in ericaceous soil. Too good to be true? I found out afterwards that at least two are needed for fruit to set. They're not self-fertile so last year's plant has now been joined by 3 little chums. I would have bought only one but the offer was for a job lot. They've arrived and need to be potted on. (Jobs for March!) What with the redcurrant and gooseberry bushes (one of each) and quite a few strawberries, the veg patch will be soft fruit central come summer. With a bit of luck.
|A splash of pink for spring!|
Herbs that died back (or should have done!) are reappearing (wild garlic, sweet cicely, comfrey, tarragon, mint, golden oregano) and the blackcurrant sage (which needs to be dug up and moved) has new flower buds. Flat leaved parsley has become an enormous (but still edible) mound, lavender has been cut back and moved under the fruit trees, marshmallow is sprouting (top photo, below) - as are the spuds chitting on my windowsill indoors.
A lesson learned from the Great Dixter seed sowing study day was the advantage of sowing some hardier plants in the late summer, planting them out in the autumn or letting them overwinter in a cold frame. This gets them off to a good start in the spring as a strong root system will have had time to develop. In the veg patch gardens, this theory is supported with August sown Cerinthe (quite my favourite plant at the moment as the stems look fabulous in a vase), Jacob's Ladder polemoniums (self seeded and growing strongly), Borage (about to flower), Cavalo Nero and white onions. I've even used some of the onions in a tomato sauce today along with parsley from my balcony. It's that mild winter, again.
|Globe artichoke (top left), Tete a tete daffs with violets, Cerinthe major purpurescens|
Considering I wasn't expecting to find much growing in the garden, this end of month review has shown how much the garden has evolved - not just as a 'veg patch', which was the original motivation for reviving the space, but as a proper garden. All this and seeds still to be sown! I'm getting quietly excited by the year ahead.
I'm linking to both The Patient Gardener and Garden Share Collective for this end of month view. Thanks to both for hosting and sharing!