It’s always a landmark time of the year when we put our tender potted plants outside for the summer – and somewhat irritating when they have to be taken in again because of unseasonal frost. Hope you didn’t get caught.
But Nigel and Laura Lincoln nearly did:
Hi Ed, Last week we were basking in the hottest day of the year, last night I was busy putting fleece on the fruit trees and veg to protect them from frost. Welcome to April. Last year a May frost hit the early flowering fruit trees, and we had virtually no fruit, so this year it’s out with the fleece. The bleeding hearts also got clobbered last year, so the newly emerging shoots have also been covered - hopefully for just a couple of nights. The peonies will have to take their chances. Primroses, daffs, forsythia, bergenias and fritillaries are flowering away despite the bitterly cold wind. On the veg front lots of seeds have been sown, but not much has emerged yet – even the toms have been slow to germinate this year. I am trying a new type (to me) called Legend but it looks like some gardener’s delight may have to be started as a back-up just in case. Early spuds (Winston) went in on Good Friday, but the main crops (Sarpo Mira and Desiree) will have to wait a couple of weeks. A visit to Anglesey Abbey winter garden a few weeks ago was a welcome break and we can’t wait for the weather to warm up and for a socially distanced cuppa with friends in the garden.
Nige & Laura.
For Julie Brown the year is rushing by:
Hello Ed, Where did March go to? Today I received a box of tulips as a thank you from a neighbour. She said I would be able to enjoy them again? They had the bulbs still attached, I have sorted them into colours, then I can decide whether to plant them mixed together or separately in my colour scheme flower beds.
Do you like my Easter display? Our Mum hung decorated eggs on branches of twisted hazel from the tree in her garden, now we do the same. Three were bought in Russia, wooden painted eggs, 3 more were bought at a craft fair in Thetford, started a new trend, the bauble is encircled with flowers, snowdrops, foxgloves, poppies, forget-me-not and marigolds, the 2 eggs with daisy and daffodils.
On Thursday Liz picked me up and took me to her garden at Feltwell, she has 3 lovely new bluebell chickens. Liz has been busy over the 'stay at home' and the garden looks really tidy The koi are growing in the formal pond and we spotted 3 fish in the wildlife pond dug last summer, using my old pond liner and sharing plants. The birds love the pond to bathe and the water snails seem to be prolific breeders...
We walked to Michael's across the village to look at the garden that we created together during the summer of 2020. The pond is clear and the water plants beginning to grow new leaves. Lots of bulbs coming up, 500 and more have been planted. The neighbours say it is the best garden in the close, still some work to do to finish the surround of the raised bed, no pictures at present.
Sunday we met up with family then I sat and watched while Michael burnt the old shed. Chatting with Liz, not sure if my red face was down to the fire, the wind or the sun?
Monday I progressed a bit further with the Japanese bed, dug a shallow hole to stand up one of the 3 stones, which I moved myself. Weed suppressant down, Tony helped to move and place the 2nd stone, the 3rd will have to wait for some more man-power, too heavy for Tony and I. I have dug a hole to take the bonsai horse chestnut still in the pot, mind. This will imply that it is in a shallower pot and disguise that it's 2 colours.
I have managed to clear some more of the leaves at the village hall and I have a new helper in Wendy, a newcomer to the village living on Millstone Green.
Would you believe that I edged the grass, with a pair of scissors, around the tree where I have planted all the spring bulbs, they are such a joy to me. Everyday I look for new shoots and buds bursting to flower. Spring is a glorious time of year.
Liz and I both have these toadstools growing in the bark we have put on the garden as a mulch.
The hyacinth are Royal Navy a lovely dark blue double, Pink Elephant and Purple Sensation, they are all lovely big flowers, I may keep them in the pots for another year.
I have been experiencing difficulties with my email, technology a bugbear for me, give me some secateurs any day.
Hope you are all enjoying your gardens too and a little bit of freedom...
Best wishes everyone, Julie
Susanne Thomas is as busy as usual
Hi Ed, hope I'm not too late: Hi All, The rhubarb season is upon us again, and although lots of people put manure on theirs, we are having custard on ours!! It is unfortunate that the Horn Fair is currently a non-event, as I usually get rid of about 30lb of rhubarb on our Great Hockham Gardening Club stall. What does one do with 30lb+ of rhubarb. We have made jam, but it's not mega successful. We have made pies, but after 2 or 3 it gets a bit boring. We have flavoured our Gin with it, this does not get at all boring, and we have stewed it with custard and the balance in sitting in the freezer waiting for the next batch to arrive. Currently fighting a losing battle with bugs on my money plant, but if I think this through, I believe a couple of years ago I had the same problem. The plant is enormous, and it looks like it is ready for the chop, but I'll keep a few bits to plant on and dump the rest. The greenhouse has been patched up again, and hopefully will last another year, and have just about got all my seeds in. So happy gardening everyone, even though it's snowing, hailing and sunny at the same time!! Cheers Sue.
Jane Dalton is hoping we can soon get back to normal:
It really is a whole year since our last meeting and this last Lockdown has sadly, done some serious damage to everyone’s lives, not to mention mental health and relationships!
Spring is truly here with gardens a mass of colourful bulbs bursting into life. I will send you a few photos Ed…
The birds are singing and doing ‘what they do’ at this time of the year, building nests and they will soon be bringing up new families. We had a camera bird box for Xmas but so far no takers for this bijoux luxury apartment! Will keep you posted…
We can surely see the light at the end of the tunnel, as our 2nd jabs are completed or due and Lockdown is being gradually eased….
So with better weather and time to enjoy our outside surroundings and gardens… be brave and invite your trusted friends and family and feel the joy of being with others again… what a relief!
Slow sure steps WILL be fine – it will take us all some time to regain our confidence and feel secure at being with people again… take care everyone, Jane.
While not self sufficient, Prue and I are very fortunate in having a garden large enough to grow about as much stuff as we feel able to manage. We have tried many things over the years, some things do well, but if for some inexplicable reason something doesn’t do, we don’t.
One thing we always grow are potatoes: we grow them totally organically, they crop very well in our soil and really do taste better. We usually grow several varieties for several reasons. First and foremost, taste, obviously, then because we are organic we try to pick spuds that are naturally resistant to whatever is likely to adversely affect them.
One variety, Pink Fir Apple, is always raved about when it comes to taste and texture for a salad potato. This is true, but being somewhat small and a funny shape they are a bit of a problem to scrape – but this should not matter, as taste is all – and they are really good. Just one tiny problem: if you look up their growing characteristics you will find: ‘Susceptible to – everything.’ ‘Resistant to – nothing.’ We have found this to be only too true. One year we harvested less than we planted. Belle de Fontenay performs, at least for us, in a similar manner. Come on, life is too short. So we tend to grow varieties that have done well in the past.
We always try and support local, always get out seed from the man on Thetford market, but due to the current situation, he was not there, at least when we needed to get on with chitting and planting. So we felt we had to go on the web.
Now we find an absolute host of varieties to choose from, so what to do? We first chose Casablanca, grow it every year, does everything it says on the tin. But what about the rest? It seems there are several new varieties, quite a lot from Europe. So in addition to Casablanca we chose: Sarpo Kifli, creamy waxy, new potato flavor; Sarpo Mira, pink skinned flowery texture, good for chipping and baking; and Sarpo Blue Danube, quoted as the best roaster ever. All of these are also recommended as being disease resistant, so we should be OK.
Just one more weeny problem: while it’s good to have a range of potatoes for different uses, when small quantities are bought up to the veg drawer they can get mixed up. But this year each variety is a different colour. Sorted!