This weekend I tackled what has become an annual job for me: wrestling with and hacking back the brambles that grow along the field boundary behind the greenhouse running down to the shed.
When we came here two years ago, this was one of the first big jobs that I took on in the garden. The brambles had run riot for years, and formed a high hedge, with some brambles twelve foot long or more, growing up through the wild plum trees in the boundary, and dangling back down to touch the ground. After clearing them that first spring, light flooded through the denuded plum trees for the first time in years. Last year, we took our work further and once the brambles (much less advanced this time) were again cut back to the ground, we heavily pruned the plum trees.
The plum trees rewarded us this spring with lots of fresh foliage growing up their trunks, and tumbles of white blossom floating along their branches. Clearing the brambles was much quicker work this time, and we’re hoping to dig out their roots once and for all in the next few weeks, and replace them with leftover rosa rubrifolia hedging which is still heeled in after our recent hedge-planting. Old bits of rotten fencing were pulled out as well, and the debris temporarily piled on the black plastic sheeting that is still warming this patch of ground before we plant brassicas here this year. This stretch of the boundary has not been cow-proofed though, so whatever hedging we grow here will have to take its chances against foraging cattle.
If you had seen me this weekend, besides a few scratches and a slight sense of triumph over the brambles, you may have noticed a deeper sense of self-satisfaction. For the first time, I have actually corralled myself into pricking out seedlings in the proper manner in the greenhouse: carefully easing out the young seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle, holding them gently by the seed leaves, and planting each into a separate module.
It amazed me what a simple and satisfying job this was: so much easier than trying to pull apart a sheet of matting that has been formed by the roots of the plants knitting together while I left them unattended! I consider myself suitably rebuked for my previous… well not quite neglect, but something akin…
Celeriac and cosmos seedlings are now pricked out into their own modules, hopefully making it much easier to pot them on later than it would be straight from their then-outgrown seed trays…
It was also a marathon seed-sowing weekend, with dozens of edibles and ornamentals sown into tray/modules and pots. The various peas that germinated some weeks ago in the greenhouse went out into the bottom border last weekend (Excellenz, as well as some purple podded peas, and some heritage salmon flowered peas that Matron kindly sent me last year – I really look forward to trying these) and the potatoes were planted out, some earlies and some maincrop.
This weekend we added the broad beans to this bed, having hardened them off over the past week or two. Alongside the garlic and several sets of onions that have already settled in here, I managed to squeeze in some of the beetroot seedlings from the greenhouse, and a few more short rows of salad leaves, spinach and radish, and this bed is now full.
King of the Hill dug over more of the middle bed, which lies between the greenhouse and the woodstores, almost up to the remaining hedging that we have heeled in here until we plant it along behind the greenhouse. We rigged up our bamboo poles ready to support our runner beans this year, and dug out the last standing leeks – rather fitting to harvest our leeks the same week that we sow the seed for next year’s. We hope to finish digging this bed over this week so that we can rotavate it, as it has only been worked for two years now and is still very compacted and heavy.
In the greenhouse, various summer and winter squashes have been potted on, along with savoy cabbages and black Tuscan kale and many other edible delights. I ran some of the excess brassica seedlings along to our next-door-neighbours-but-one, who are keen gardeners, and felt slightly better about the inevitable cull when you are left with more germinated plants than you have space for.
All that, and we still managed to find time for the first bike ride and barbecues of the year – loving this spring sunshine. I hope that you had an equally successful weekend!