Sunday, 10 April 2011

A Glorious Sight

My Victoria Plum is in full bloom, the first of the fruit trees to blossom each year. It's a marvellous sight, and it also has a sweet scent too.
This tree was planted in 2005 and took a few years to settle in; it's on a Pixy (extremely dwarfing) rootstock and for a couple of years I was concerned the graft hadn't taken correctly. But eventually it produced a few flowers and two years ago a lot of plums. Last year it didn't have too much blossom, and was also affected by the late frosts we had; this year it's covered in blossom though. I'm now slightly concerned it is tending to be a biennial fruiter, so will have to keep an eye on it and thin the plums once they've set to prevent this happening in future years.
The bush fruit is also flowering - here you can see mostly redcurrants. A couple of weeks ago on Gardeners World Monty Don showed his hard pruned currant bushes. I've never bothered doing this, preferring quantity and I have masses of fruit each year. Put it this way, the retail value of the fruit these bushes produce is enough to pay my allotment rent twice over. So these redcurrants are sparingly pruned, only the blackcurrants get a good haircut as they need it in order to produce fruit.
The broad beans are growing well under their cloche...
as are the peas which have now pushed through.
This is the parsnip bed this year. This bed was reclaimed from a grassy bank back in 2000 (you can just see the continuation of the bank behind), with the lower plot on the left and the upper plot on the right. Like much reclaimed land round here, the clay soil was poor at the start so I added soil and organic matter but it was still too poor to grow very much. A few years ago I had a new retaining fence built and extended the bed a bit, adding more soil and a lot of organic matter. The soil in here is now light, with a good depth of topsoil so this year I decided to put the parsnips in here. I've used my own seed which I gathered last year, keeping my packet of bought seed in reserve in case of failures. I'm hoping that this light soil will favour the growing of good, long parsnips.
I planted out my home grown lettuce today, they look dead in this photo as they'd just been watered in. This leafy lettuce (Salad Bowl) doesn't transplant particularly well so there will be losses, but I can fill the gaps with seed in due course and I will get some lettuce to eat in May, which is the point really. I've also popped in some spring onions here, the whole lot is now under a cloche to keep it warm.

This week I took advantage of the warm and sunny weather to sow beetroot outside. In a cold spring I tend to start them in pots indoors, but from previous experience I know they could germinate well in this kind of weather. If needs be I can pop a cloche on them later.
And here is a truly white daffodil, my last daffodil to flower, and they're just coming out now.
Finally, for that "ah" factor, here is a brand new foal, outside with its mum for the first time this week. Not mine, I hasten to add, just a paddock I pass on the way to my vegetable plot. Couldn't get too close, the foal is still a bit jumpy and its mother very protective. Sweet.
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