Monday, 1 April 2013

Will This Winter Ever End?

It's the first day of April and this morning we had another light dusting of snow, the tops of the hills are still encrusted with last week's blizzard and people are still walking by my house in full arctic gear.  I am wondering if spring will ever come?

The woodpigeons are certainly hungry, in the last couple of weeks they have decimated my purple sprouting broccoli, though happily they have left the purple sprouting bits alone so I have put these plants under cloches to protect them.  The crop will be very late this year, I think.  Given the weather forecast suggests cold weather for a couple more weeks, if we have any broccoli by the end of April we'll be doing well.
 Given the extremely cold temperatures, there is little that can be done on the vegetable plot.  I did manage to do my winter pruning - here are the autumn raspberries, cut down to size.
 The bitterly cold arctic wind makes working outside for any length of time unpleasant and since the soil is so cold there is no point planting much - I did put in my broad beans today as I had warmed the soil up with a cloche for a few weeks, and they are a very hardy variety.  But I planted them a full month later than I normally do, it's the latest ever.
 A bit of tidying round the plot, this is today's haul of rubbish chucked over the wall into the raspberry bed.  Lovely.
 In addition to the raspberries, I also pruned the apples where necessary and then moved on to the currants and gooseberries.  Last spring was very wet so I didn't get the pruning done properly then, and I needed to do some serious thinning of branches in here.  I removed some old wood from the redcurrants, then thinned the centre to reduce the crowding.  You are supposed to reduce the branches to improve the size and quality of the fruit, but in all honesty the redcurrants are always good, so I have thinned the bush in the centre and round the edges where the branches were dropping onto the ground with the weight of the fruit.  I'll have another look at it once it has fruited this year and see if more needs to come out.
This is the whitecurrant bush, which was also spreading onto the path next to the bed.  I've taken this back quite severely in places but tried not to take too much old wood out  - it took years to fruit so I don't want to discourage it!  I took similar action with the gooseberries, taking out some old wood, crossing branches and removing some at the edge where they get in the way of the path.  A mulch of compost, potash and some leaf compost and they are ready to get going.

I suspect that when it does finally get warmer, everything will need doing at once so I'm going to make an effort to do some more jobs this week to prepare.  Hope it's warmer where you are!
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