Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter Weekend in the Garden

I don't think there's a better sight than the pink of cherry blossom against a blue sky. It lasts such a short time - already blowing off the trees - but while it's there, it makes you smile.
All around here there are branches heavy with blossom, most pink, but some white, like these outside my house. Lovely.
In the vegetable garden, the Katy apple tree is in full bloom now, while the plum has finished and is setting its fruit.
This is a bit of a long shot, but here you can see all four of my apple trees; left to right we have Worcester Pearmain, Blenheim Orange, Katy, Spartan (the newest and smallest one on the end). I've had a struggle getting the Blenheim Orange to flower and then getting it to set fruit, having lost one of the trees that used to pollinate it, but adding the Spartan last year did result in one apple setting, even though the Spartan was very new. This year the tree has a lot of blooms, as does the Spartan so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for a proper harvest this time.

The cloche you can see in the bed covers the lettuce, radish and spring onions. The weed ridden mess on the right is the potato bed, and just out of shot on the left is the pea/bean bed. The empty bed in the middle is the "leaf bed" - more on that below.
And here is a shot of the potatoes, carefully taken in a less weedy spot so you might think I'm a really good and conscientious gardener who doesn't have to work for a living and can spend every day pulling out every stray bit of grass. Convinced?
This weekend I planted up the "leaf" bed - spinach (the perpetual kind which is the only one that doesn't run to seed for me), chard, parsley and coriander. I habitually keep about one quarter of the seed in reserve in case of germination failures - in normal years our wet, cool soil can affect germination so I'm always cautious. I also filled in the gaps in the transpanted lettuce with some reserved seed as well.
These are the artichokes, which I replanted in February, and which have now pushed through the soil well.
And this is the strawberry bed, showing the before and after weeding view in one photo. The warm spring has meant I've got behind on my jobs, with the weeds and grass getting going very fast so I've struggled to keep up. I really hate weeding this bed - it's back-breaking work, but thankfully only needs a good weed twice a year. As you can see, I've weeded almost half the bed today and scattered some well rotted horse manure on the soil. As the bed is under a tree, it naturally gets a mulch of leaves over the winter which helps lighten the soil, so all it needs is a little feeding.
Another sign of the warm spring is that bluebells are out very early this year, these were on the way home and they're just putting their heads up.
Here's a picture of the weir, you can see the 19th century sluice gates in the background, which used to take water to the mill in the village. The river's low due to the lack of rain, but there's still plenty of water dropping over the edge.
More bluebells, with some ferns pushing through too. When you see slopes like this planted with flowers, don't you wish you could create a garden like this too? Somehow nature seems to do a better job.

Have a good gardening weekend.
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