I’ve done loads of things in the garden lately and it feels really good. Up until recently my garden time has been limited and to be honest I didn’t realise how much I’d been missing it until I was fully up to my elbows in dirt, ripping out weeds. There are a few areas in the garden that have slipped into a shameful state, and I am quite upset about just how quickly that happens. It wasn’t that long ago it was a weed free paradise. But there is no point moaning about it – I just need to get on with it with a sense of determination to return it to a point of control and then keep it there.
My aim is to do an hour a day of weeding. It sounds a lot and is probably an over estimation but the way I see it, it is a temporary measure. There are plenty of areas that are in control and just need a tickle to keep them that way. So, if I start my hour on the sector of the day and take care of all of its needs and then with any time left I head over to the shameful places and finish my time there. By setting a timer I know it won’t be a relentless slog. Having said that, I was getting stuck in today, stopping several times to dodge bursts of thunderstorm. I made great progress and after the hour was up I was having so much fun I convinced myself to fill one more bucket! I must be mad!
I have also started the first of next season’s harvest with the start of my garlic and onion. The garlic are early varieties that should be started in April rather than the traditional midwinter time for ordinary varieties. However, I find the early start helps them to get a jump on the rust that inevitably appears, allowing them to get strong enough before it strikes. I am always determined to preventatively spray regularly, but somehow miss a session, normally by going away, and the rust thinks ‘a-ha’ and begins to make itself at home.
But this season I had a new problem – there was some kind of worm in my stored garlic. So much for garlic being great at pest control! Not this one! I suspect it is a pantry moth. Its main target was the base of the bulb so I was uncertain if they would still be viable. I didn’t want to just plant them and hope for the best. There is nothing more discouraging than having a crop fail. So, I decided to pop them all in a seed tray filled with potting mix to see if any of them take root. I wasn’t feeling too optimistic, so I used more than I needed.
A week later I rummaged around in the potting mix and was delighted to find most of them had sprouted healthy roots. Having dug them up, I really had no choice but to plant them immediately. Fortunately, I had already prepared their spot ages ago so all I needed to do was consult my garden plan for spacing instructions and get to work. I find the easiest way to do large scale planting like this is to mark out the distance between the plants (15cm) on one bamboo stick and the distance between rows (20cm) on another and move the short plant stick along the longer row stick, poking holes in the soil with an old broken handle and dropping the pre-sprouted garlic in. Just a few days later, they are all up and it is such a welcome sight.
And the last significant thing other than a bit of pottering about was to sow my onion seeds. It is 10 weeks between now and the shortest day, which is really encouraging. It hasn’t even started to get really cold yet, but knowing the days begin lengthening again in a mere 10 weeks is something to look forward to. Not that I’m wishing my life away. The shortest day is normally the traditional planting time for onions, and I wanted my seedlings to be a good size, with enough time to sow more if anything goes wrong.
But as I was sitting here telling you about it, I thought ‘hang on… 10 weeks is too long to have seedlings hanging about – ideally it should be 6 – 8 weeks. But then I reminded myself that due to problems at harvest time last season I wanted to move things back by two weeks. It shouldn’t be significant enough of a change to affect the thermophotoperiodic state of onions, but enough of a change to improve my chances of success at the other end. And so earlier than normal my onion seeds were lovingly tucked into seed raising mix with a hope and a prayer.
Come again soon – I am intending to get a good rhythm going. If I can dodge thunderstorms today, I can garden on any day.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
NB: There are no weeding photos because shame prevents it. Also try to avoid looking too close in the pot washing photo!