What a diverse month it's been - a premature spring, high winds, a deluge of rain and a snowy Easter!
Here is a round-up of garden highlights at the end of 'mercurial-March' . . .
In the greenhouse the rocket which was sown on 12 February, has been a huge success – it's been great to have home grown leaves in sandwiches and salads.
The mixed Italian salad leaves (Lattughino da taglio misto) are also nearly big enough to use.
When the Easter snow had melted I moved the peas which were sown on 26 February, out of the frost free greenhouse into the new plastic cloche on one of the vegetable beds. Now they've had a few days to get used to cooler temperatures they are ready to be planted out. I noticed that the growth of the peas planted in the cardboard tubes wasn't as good as those in the pots – I heard Bob Flowerdew on Gardeners' Question Time mention that he no longer uses cardboard tubes as the fungicide in the cardboard inhibits seedling growth – interesting!
I left the cardboard tube seedlings in the cloche and planted out the ones in the pots – they had fantastic root systems and individual plants were easy to tease out from the clump.
Here are 'Purple Podded' peas (left) and 'Carouby de Mausanne' mange touts (right) planted round the base of rustic wigwams in the new vegetable bed along the garden wall. This area was previously a nursery bed for perennials but as this year I'm growing seven varieties of pea and at least as many climbing beans I needed to use this area which is opposite my greenhouse for productive crops!
The reason gardeners today can enjoy growing and eating beautiful vegetables, such as Purple Podded Peas, is the existence of the Heritage Seed Library and other similar schemes to protect the rich diversity of vegetables from being lost forever – because only registered seed can be sold the unusual, non-commercial, local varieties are only available via 'seed swaps'. So this news on Daughter of the Soil's blog made me splutter expletives! The Association Kokopelli has a catalogue of thousands of unique heirloom vegetables, and apparently this gives them and "unfair trading advantage" over a big commercial seed company like Baumaux, so Kokopelli have just been fined €35,000 .
Let's hope that the Association Kokopelli survives this latest crisis and continue to save and distribute the thousands of vegetable varieties in their collection. I'm looking forward to my copy of Dominique Guillet's book Seeds of Kokopelli dropping through the letter box – I know it's a drop in the ocean, but if you're interested why not treat yourself to a copy and give them your support.
Near the wildlife pond vivid bursts of yellow have pushed up through the mud – Coltsfoot (tussilago farfara) flowers. Now, I know someone's going to tell me I'm mad to allow this plant into the garden as it's underground roots will run amock! I have pulled out quite a few clumps that appeared too near to some choice plants but the flowers are so cheerful I just had to leave some to flower.
So, after that lunch time garden work-out, what does a gardener have for lunch? Carouby de Mausanne pea-shoots (I had a few spares) and hop shoots with scrambled fresh eggs and crumbled Wensleydale cheese served on toast!