After the long dry April, the showers finally arrived towards the end of last week, slaking the parched ground. The weekend fluctuated between sunshine and showers; some of which sent us running for temporary shelter, and others we shrugged off as we resumed work on the kitchen garden.
We finally set up the wire framework for our two young apple espaliers (although the wire turned out to be flimsier than we expected, so we shall be replacing it shortly.) Hard to see in the picture above but four tiers of wires run from a post just behind the trunk of the beech tree on the left to the post on the right for one apple, and then from this post to the post beside the peach tree for the second apple.
You may also spot another new labour of love in the picture above: our order of enviromesh arrived during the week, and after a quick trip to the local diy store for some wood, King of the Hill set about making us the first two magnificent frames to ward butterflies off our brassicas.
After some fun measuring and cutting both wood and mesh – which the cats found most entertaining, having a whale of a time as they pounced and rolled in the mesh that we laid out for them – he had put together two square frames, each 1.2m square and 60cm high, and their lids.
These we nestled into part of the plot behind the pear cordons, and planted up with black tuscan kale, Kalibos red cabbage and Rigoletto savoy cabbage plants, which had been champing at the bit in the greenhouse for the past few weeks.
These should prevent a repeat of last year disasters with the attack of the cabbage whites – I just hope that they are strong enough to stand up to cat attacks too, as Willow and Xander have expressed great interest in something new to climb up/jump on. Magnificent handiwork though; I am very impressed. Hopefully we shall add another couple to house the cauliflowers and sprouts which are still too small to transplant.
While King of the Hill was busy constructing, I had the fun task of tidying up the greenhouse ready for the season ahead.
This picture was taken a week before. Besides the trays of plants that didn’t fit on the potting bench and shelf, the beds also needed digging over to rid them of nettles, brambles and bindweed that had been making incursions over the past couple of months. I removed all the plants that I couldn’t cram onto the bench, and set about digging the ground by hand. Hot work in the greenhouse with the sun shining!
But several hours later, things looked a lot better, the plants were returned to a tidier greenhouse, and I had removed several bucketloads of weeds and picked out hundreds of tenacious pieces of bindweed root, some of which were just starting to spring into life. The first summer after we arrived, the greenhouse was full with a magnificent fruiting nectarine tree, which threatened to burst through the glass in several places, and was inseparable from a forest of bindweed that filled the air. Sadly we had to lose the nectarine (after one summer of glorious fruit) to make space to actually use the greenhouse. But my mother-in-law did buy us a container nectarine last Christmas, which stands in the pot at the end and is just starting to grow. And we are still living with the legacy of that bindweed, though after two years of meticulously digging it out, we seem to be getting on top of it…
Some of the squash went out into the middle bed too – optimistically early, perhaps, but they were bursting out of their pots and had hardened off well in the long days of sunshine. Hopefully there will be no surprise late frosts now! The sweetcorn have been hardened off and we’re hoping to plant them out this week also. The salad and beetroot in the foreground are doing well with these April-showers-in-May.
The far bed is starting to look lush and green with the foliage of potatoes persistently pushing through the earth, peas scrambling up the birch sticks, broad beans starting to flower, and lines of onions and garlic standing proud.
A promising start to the season.