Sunday, 29 March 2009

British Summer Time

It's official! The Summer is here. We've celebrated the day by wandering around the house shouting "have you changed this clock yet?", then finding out No. 2 son went and changed them all before we were awake, so we had to change half of them back again.

Anyway, just a brief veggy garden update. So far the only sign of any life in the first vegetable bed is some cabbage seedlings. Beds 2 and 3 will shortly be home to potatoes, onions, blackcurrants, redcurrants and a small peach tree which was given to us by our next door neighbour. If there's any room after that I've got some parsley somewhere, and a potted bay tree I can set out.

For the moment, however, Anna's at a new business meeting so I (Keith) have sneaked inside for a rest... don't tell the boss!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Gardener's Whirl

Here is the first of my articles for Village Life magazine. I'd welcome your comments:

Hi, my name is Anna and I run Lush Landscape and Garden Design – a local garden design business. Over the next few months I will be writing about gardens and gardening and I hope to inspire you to get outside and enjoy a successful and enjoyable gardening year.

In this series of articles I hope to cover all sorts of garden-related topics. But as March is the first “proper” gardening month of the year I will detail some of the pressing tasks needing attention in your own garden.

I’m not one for laying down rules and regulations, but the exception is my Golden Rule of Home Gardening: ‘if the mud sticks to your boots, go inside for a cuppa!’ You can do more damage than good by compacting your soil if it’s waterlogged.  If it is too wet use the time to get a plan together. A little forward planning will save you time, effort and disappointment later on, And once you’ve decided what you need to do, cleaned your tools and boots and checked the weather forecast, you’re officially ready for the 2009 Gardening Season.

There’s certainly lots to do – probably the first job is a good tidy up. Bush and shrub roses need pruning, as well as Cornus and other shrubs grown for their colourful winter stems. Cut back overgrown climbers like honeysuckle and winter jasmine. Remove the dead stems of last year’s flowering perennials and divide any that are starting to take over.  Flower beds need weeding (as ever), and once done you can sow hardy annuals like poppies, Cosmos and Limnanthes – the ‘poached egg’ plant. If your lawn is looking a bit threadbare now is the time to re-seed. And if your herbaceous perennials are growing fast, get some twiggy supports in to protect new growth against the wind.

But what about the kitchen garden?  If you’ve never grown your own, now is the ideal time to give it a try.  To be honest, my experience of growing produce is rather limited. Years ago we had an allotment which was so large and welcoming to local weeds that we gave it up after one season. We did manage to harvest a few potatoes, some rhubarb and a ridiculous quantity of butter-nut squash, but eventually we surrendered in the face of an overwhelming enemy. This year, however, we are prepared to give growing veggies another go.

So, armed with a trusty guidebook, we shall first prepare our seed beds (“ensuring the soil is not too dry nor too wet”), then begin sowing. We’re going to try parsnips (“notoriously erratic at germinating”), early potatoes, onion sets and hardy herbs like chives, coriander and parsley. I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes, and if we get anything resembling food as a result you’ll be the first to know.

If you have a little space for a few pots or a small veggie bed why not join us and share your experiences?