Yesterday the last of the beds and the two half barrels received their share of the farmyard manure which effectively finished my winter preparations ……. just in time to start the spring time ones.
Several weeks ago, Mud had taken delivery of a new tilt (otherwise known as a canvas or 3/4 soft top) for my 109″ Land Rover, Annie and the hood sticks for his 88″ Land Rovers’ tilt. Luckily, the sticks had arrived in a rather large box and I quickly realised that the length and width of the box was just the right size for using to cover two of my raised beds.
I’m sure there are a few of you wondering why on earth would I need to cover my beds with cardboard. Well the answer is to warm them. Covering the beds helps to keep them from freezing during the frosts and warms the soil, or at least keeps the soil warmer, so that seed for early crops such as parsnip and carrot can be sown in March/April and will germinate quicker and also, hopefully, not rot as readily.
Packets of parsnip seed will often say that they can be sown from February but in my experience, generally speaking, you will be no further forward come April than if you wait a few weeks and sow when the weather is starting to warm up. Seeds need warmth to germinate and it is as simple as that. Covering the beds helps kick start the process …… or at least I think it does.
In addition, the cardboard breaks down over time and has the added benefit of being quite good for the soil.
So yesterday evening, I trimmed each of the long sides of the box to size and covered the two beds destined to be home for parsnips and carrots, weighing the cardboard down with some of the ubiquitous bricks, stacked in the garden.
With the last of the winter jobs and the first of the spring ones completed, there is nothing much more I can do to my beds prior to the first direct sowings and planting out, other than general maintenance of the winter beds and tidying litter etc brought in by the strong winds.
Today dawned miserable and wet, very wet but I was in good heart. My seeds from The Real Seed Catalogue had arrived on Monday, Mud had picked up some seed compost on Tuesday, I had washed out one of my small propagators yesterday and so today I was able to sow the first of the season 2014 seeds.
It is always a great feeling to get the first seeds of the year sown and by lunchtime I had sown:
10 x Tomato Stupice;
10 x Tomato Chocolate Cherry;
10 x Chilli Ohnivec;
10 x Chilli Patio (a favourite of ours);
10 x Chilli Cayenne
The tomatoes and the Ohnivec Chilli are from The Real Seed Catalogue but the Patio and Cayenne seeds were from last years crop which I had allowed to dry out primarily for use in the kitchen and most of the Cayennes were ground up and have created an unbelievably hot cayenne powder. However, one Cayenne was missed and so I was able to use it for seed this morning. The tiny dried Patio Chillis are used whole in our currys and chillis and so I simply plucked a good sized one out of the jar and harvested its’ seeds.
Now its’ the usual waiting game. The tomatoes should be up first and the chillis will take as long as they take, anywhere between 21 and 50+ days. The next seeds to be sown will be Leeks but that will be in February. For now I have to be satisfied with what I’ve done and stop wishing the year away.
Of course it helps that I now have my next knitting project to get on with, having today taken delivery of a new pattern and yarn but I will post more details about this in the next day or so ….. I can’t wait to pick up my needles.