The spring bulbs are growing, the roses are covered in little pink leaf buds, so now is the time I really want to get going in the garden. After a very cold spell, we have now been treated to gales and rain, so the soil isn't ready to work yet. Instead, I've started planning.
I may have mentioned before that I plant by the moon. No, this isn't some new age thing, but a method for improving yields and crop health. The basic principal is that the lunar cycle and its passage in front of various stars influence growth of plants. Sounds weird, but since I started using it in 2006 my yields have gone up. A proper scientific trial 4 or 5 years ago (featured on Gardeners World while it was still a programme for gardeners) found that sowing according to these principles did increase plant size, health and yields. In fact the sweet peas outpaced their non-lunar planted siblings by more than 2 flowers to 1.
In practice, what it means is that on certain days you sow or transplant root crops (carrot, beetroot, etc), other days leaf crops (lettuce, cabbage), flower crops (flowers, broccoli, cauliflower) and seed crops (tomatoes, beans and peas). While this method does not do away with the vagaries of the weather, in general it does result in increased germination, bigger plants and higher yields, in my experience.
If you're interested in this method, you're best to get a book to get started - they usually contain a calendar for the year. Being someone who likes to economise, I don't want to buy a new book each year, so I go to an online calendar to get the days and transcribe them onto a calendar. Here's the link, but be warned, it is in pigeon English and may not be easily understandable if you don't already know the method.
A couple of weeks ago my potatoes were still in deep hibernation. I took a peek at them this morning and discovered they were raring to go. So here they are, all laid out.
At the top we have Pentland Javelin, my favourite first early and I have 3 kilos of them. A delicious fluffy potato. On the right are two early maincrop, Desiree (top) and Cara (bottom). Both are slug and blight resistant, but I haven't grown Cara before so this will be an experiment. On the left is Cosmos, a second early which crops really well, is blight resistant and reasonably (but not completely) slug resistant.
This week, having transcribed the planting days onto my calendar, I'll go through my seed packets and plan sowings for the coming months. I never stick to it, but it does give me something to aim for!