I haven't blogged about the vegetable garden recently, the winter has been harsh and long and like many gardeners, now that Spring is just about here at last, I feel well behind schedule. But, let's not panic – my Dad always warned me off starting sowing seeds too early and having to somehow keep the seedling from going too leggy and soft in the greenhouse because it was too cold to plant outside. I'll catch up . . . you just see!
Today I had an appointment with the optician, so I missed the postman's visit. On my return I noticed a pile of packages had been carefully put under cover within our courtyard – I was curious then excited . . .
. . . one was a parcel from Zoe (who used to blog and now tweets) – rhubarb crowns 'Timperley Early' and Stockbridge Arrow'. So far rhubarb has not been a success in my garden, but I'm making an extra effort this time and have prepared a bed next to the garden wall, well dug with horse manure. Thank you Zoe - the heritage peas and beans will be on their way to you soon.
The other parcel contained a very large heavy book, 'A Flora of Suffolk'. I ordered it at the pre-publication price and couldn't wait to spend evenings immersed in botanical heaven :-)
My plot is not all bare earth and uncleared pea wigwams – here's a round up of the best bits:
Crimson Flowered Broad Bean plants hardened off and ready for planting out; some healthy looking sweetpea seedlings which have had their tips pinched out so they will make strong side shoots; and some beautiful purple violets I brought home from my Mum's garden – these are for The Wild Wood, but I put them in an old terracotta flowerpot so we could use it as a table decoration at Easter (I dream of having lunch outside, but we may have to wear thermals!).
Sorrel! Doesn't it look wonderful – and it's very very good for you too. I like to finely chop the leaves and add them to scrambled egg as it cooks. The under gardeners love to eat sorrel too – I suppose they are adding sorrel to the egg at the production stage. And here's something to try, dip a piece of sorrel leaf in sugar and savour the flavour – like very good Champagne apparently ;-)
Chives edging the end of the raised vegetable beds. They've sprung up from nothing in little more than a week! It's chopped chive sprinkles on everything from now on.
Yes I know, I know, I need to do some weeding – you're supposed to look at the garlic! Doesn't it look good and strong after spending the winter frozen under the snow. The theory is that the cold weather triggers the division of the bulb into cloves – I'm hoping for a great garlic crop this year.
There are 'weeds' you can eat – which is very satisfying indeed! This is Hairy Bittercress, pulled from overwintering scented geranium pots in the greenhouse . . . and destined to give a piquant pepperiness to my lunch :-)
Lastly here's my favourite flowering shrub of early spring, cornus mas or The Cornelian Cherry. It's a more subtle shade of yellow than forsythia, and makes a beautiful large shrub or small bushy tree. I love to look at the flower clusters which spangle the bare branches – aren't they just beautiful! Tiny posies of miniature flowers held within a ring of pale green velvety sepals. It tells me that spring is here at long last :-)