Rain arrived late last night and continued till morning, the kitchen garden looks refreshed with a noticeable earthy aroma to the air. Even though the sun is covered over by heavy sky I can feel heat beginning to build already.
The much-needed rain encouraged lots of creatures from their hiding places, including fat slugs, unfortunately.
We garden organically in our kitchen garden and allotment, relying on natural methods and predators to keep pest numbers down. During damp weather (particularly in spring) we pick slugs and snails off young plants by hand (yuk!). It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.
Flowers are appearing on the peas which is really exciting, I can’t wait to pick fresh pods and snack on sweet little peas!
Looks like we’re in for a bumper crop of strawberries too! We grow Cambridge Favourite which have great flavour for making jam, if we are to have any chance of entering the jam class of our village show later this year we must refrain from scoffing them all straight from the plants!
Biting winds, rain, hail and snow showers, we’ve never been so thankful for the occasional glimpse of sunshine to provide some respite. Ooh naughty February! Welcome back to our monthly catch up posts where we show you what’s growing on in our garden smallholding.
The vegetable garden in February still offers fabulous things to eat thanks to a bit of careful planning. By dedicating a whole bed to carrots rather than just a couple of rows for late summer/autumn use, we’re still pulling tasty roots of ‘Autumn King’. Standing well in our soil our garden tends to get rather boggy in winter so this variety really is worth growing. The same can be said for ‘Gladiator’ parsnip, fantastic roots right through to spring.
Another great crop providing nutritious leaves from summer right through to winter is kale. ‘Nero Di Toscana’ will grow in difficult conditions such as a shady spot and poor drainage (trust us, we know!). The flavour improves after a frost and once it finally bolts the flowers can be eaten too.
We’ve just finished picking the last of the Brussels Sprouts and now we’re patiently waiting for spears of beautiful early sprouting broccoli to make an appearance. Early purple sprouting is sown late spring one year and produces from February/March the following year – so you really do need to be patient!
Autumn-fruiting raspberry canes got their annual chop this week. Rich carefully tidied around to remove the old leaves and debris being careful not to damage emerging canes, finishing up with a mulch of compost afterwards.
The canes are very spiky – gloves are needed! In just a couple of months the whole bed will be brimming with fresh new growth.
Rather than burning or composting we’ve decided to keep the cut raspberry canes and use them as organic slug and snail deterrents (due to the spikes), laying them on the ground in and around seedlings.
Something has had a go at the broad bean seedlings underneath the cloche tunnels (unlikely to be a pigeon, a mouse perhaps?), a bit of soil disturbance and a couple of seedlings vanished – one is wilting so I guess the seed bean is damaged. This is the first place we’re going to use the canes. I wonder if mice will be that bothered by a few spikes? It’s an experiment so we’ll let you know if it works.
Our chickens were beginning to lay regularly (except for Mrs Broody pants), a couple have now decided to have another moult which means no eggs.
Some of our girls are getting on for retirement, perhaps nearer summer we’ll increase the flock seeing as we have a new coop!
I received two little Boysenberry plants in the post yesterday, kindly sent to me to trial from Mow It Sow It Grow It. Boysenberry is a cross between a raspberry, blackberry, dewberry and a loganberry. I’m looking forward to tasting the fruit and should expect a good crop in their first year. I’m really curious what the berries will taste like…will it be raspberry, or blackberry…or a mix of both…or…..exciting!
The plants arrived in great condition, supplied in 10cm pots, so there’s no immediate rush to plant if time is precious or your garden is currently covered in snow like mine (yes, I spoke too soon!). Full planting instructions and information regarding the plants were also supplied, which is always handy.
I’ve had the pleasure of being sent other plants from this supplier in the past, yet again I’m impressed with the careful packaging (which is biodegradable) and thoughtful after sales information. I’m reliably informed of some new and exciting plants available soon from Mow It Sow It Grow It, such as a good-flavoured strawberry the size of a chicken egg and another that tastes of bubble-gum!?! Look out for them and others if you’re looking for something adventurous to grow!
My little plants are currently sitting in the conservatory until I’m ready to plant them out in the garden. I’m looking forward to picking and tasting the berries, and jam making too.