It seemed as though it would never be warm enough to start planting things out in the garden, or indeed for me to want to stir my aging, aching bones, but finally, the weather started to show some signs of warming up and over the last couple of weekends I have made a start at getting things planted.
First to go into the ground was the first set of Pentland Javelin potatoes. These had been chitting on the dining room and kitchen windowsills for several weeks and were more than ready for planting. However, I had been concerned about the night temperatures and had held off from taking them out of the warmth of indoors and transplanting them into the cold ground for as long as possible. I planted 10 of the biggest tubers into the unpartitioned end of my longest bed, returning the rest to the windowsills where they could continue to wait for another couple of weeks, to allow me to stagger my harvest.
The next weekend was spent weeding the back end of the garden, specifically the area by the pond which was becoming over-run with nettles and sticky weeds. With the Mudlets’ helping clear the areas immediately in front of the back fence and around the half-barrels, I concentrated my efforts on safely navigating the stinging, sticky and prickly mass of
triffids weeds that had all but smothered the pond.
Mudville nettles are a particularly nasty variety, with a vicious sting which leaves its’ victim feeling as if the sting site is on fire. Rather stupidly, I chose to tackle these in a t-shirt and lived to regret it as both my forearms were extremely uncomfortable for the rest of the day, throughout the evening and were still ‘on fire’ as I drifted off in to sleep. That said, even my heavy duty gardening gloves weren’t sufficient to protect my poor fingers which were fully in league with my beleaguered forearms but added another dimension once submerged in hot water whilst I was washing dinner dishes.
Nettles and sticky weed cleared, I realised to my horror that we had BRAMBLES!!!!
I hate brambles. The are even nastier than nettles and far, FAR worse even, than triffids! Added to the general unpleasantness of brambles is the fact that, much like Ivy, once brambles get a foot hold in your garden, you can find yourself in a war of attrition, as you try to eradicate them. Thankfully the brambles were soon dealt with …… I hope and before long the area around the pond was looking much nicer than it had and the Mudlets’ had made significant inroads into the weeds amongst the trees.
Next job was planting Brussel Sprouts into one of the beds immediately in front of the back fence, covering them with environmesh, to protect the delicate seedlings from the attentions of pigeons and butterflies. The beauty of planting the plants in this particular bed is that I will eventually be able to staple the netting to the fence itself when the plants reach maturity, which will make the process of uncovering them to weed and then covering them back up again, much easier.
Cabbages were next, with most of these going into the raised beds, also under netting but Middle Mudlet planted one into her own planter. Little Mudlet then helped me plant out various lettuces amongst the rows of beetroot, carrot and parsnip, to act as a filler crop, all of which are securely cocooned under environmesh.
My final job of that weekend was removing the Rhubarb plant which had taken over a huge 3 meter area of one of my beds and, as Mud refused to eat Rhubarb, it had become a wasteful crop, as I couldn’t harvest it fully and as it grew bigger each year, more and more went to waste. Looking at the impressive Rhubarb stand last weekend and the amount of growing space it was taking up, I decided there and then to remove it but it took some digging out as the root structure was immense. However, it was worth it as it cleared up a large growing space.
Today was a busy, busy day in the garden. I set out with a list of jobs that needed to be done and I have to say that I met all my goals for today. If you had walked in to my vegetable garden first thing this morning then you could have been mistaken for thinking that I had two beds of potatoes, one of which being much further on than the other. Alas this was not the case. Instead what you would have been seeing was a swathe of plants which had grown from missed tubers from last year. So these had to come out and so whilst Little Mudlet worked on her garden, I made my way down the bed pulling out potato plant after potato plant.
By the time Little Mudlet and I had finished for the day I had:
Created a wigwam for the main garden and planted out 7 Mangetout plants which had been in the greenhouse and transplanted 1 which had self-seeded in last years location;
Created an a-frame for the Runner Beans and planted out my one and only runner bean plant (so far); and
Planted out 6 ‘Hunter’ squash, 3 Winter ‘High Sugar Mix’ squash, a spaghetti squash (both Mudlets have laid claim to one of these each) and a ‘Honey Bear’ pumpkin (the Mudlets have one of these each as well).
I don’t like to use slug pellets on beds which are not covered with netting due to the threat these pose to birds and hedgehogs but I was very concerned that if we had any rain over night, hordes of slugs would appear and do considerable damage. So we used empty yoghurt pots, sunk into the ground at regular intervals, as beer traps and both girls gathered all of the empty snail shells they could find which we then crush up and sprinkled around the bases of our newly transplanted plants.
It’s another busy day in the garden tomorrow as we have pumpkins and tomatoes to plant out and we have a lot more seed to sow.