The Easter break has been kind for DIY and gardening. With the weather poor in the first week of the holidays, it was no chore to be inside, though painting the kitchen was. But with indoor work done, gardening has been a pleasure in the warm spring sunshine. This time last year it was bitterly cold and there is a hint of that with the fresh breeze and clear skies sending temperatures to hover above freezing at night. But everyone and everything in the garden has been enjoying decent day time temperatures.
So we have been able to get a lot done and I reckon I have pretty much planted all the seeds I need to at the moment. Some are a little later than previously, others might be a little early. I have noticed that it is about this time of year that one starts to check out what your friends and neighbours are doing with their plots or greenhouses. Denise was offering me spare tomato plants before I had even planted seeds, which put me on edge a little, trying to remember if I had planted seeds earlier last year. I recall planting sweet peas early, indoors, but these were very “leggy”and were quickly caught up and even overtaken by those planted in the greenhouse later. So I am, with the dread of heredity, coming around to the same view as The Old Man who always says it really is not worth the bother to force start them indoors.
Conversely, Denise frowned when she saw I had planted my runner bean seeds. “Much too early” was her confident assertion. This was on the obligatory “tour of the garden”, which is a social requirement of all good neighbours who should at least feign polite interest in the others’ vegetables and herbaceaous borders (whilst making frantic mental notes on how yours compare). When Denise had gone, I rifled through my seed packets to check when it said to plant runners. Thankfully it says April. Relief – and renewal of confidence in my own work. Mind you, when it comes to gardening I am still of the Ronseal school of instruction – I do exactly what it says on the tin (or packet).
The tour of the garden is one overt way of checking on the neigbours. Alternatively you just lean over the fence to see what is happening over there. Walking around the village can give you glimpses into others’ back yards. Paddi’s greenhouse is right next to the footpath and Claire was able to report back that it is not showing any greater advancement in green shoots than ours. So I feel more comfortable about my own meagre showing of shooting stars, as Paddi regularly produces healthy young plants far earlier than me.
Talking of neighbours I liked the report from the RHS, as reported on the BBC which showed that 22% of gardeners admitted to just throwing snails over the fence into their neighbours’ gardens. I think the most shocking part of this was how FEW admitted to doing this…. I am in the happy position of not having neighbours too close so snails and other pests (such as dead rabbits) can be slung into the field or hedgerows. Not that there are too many snails and slugs at the mo – but with the summer term about to start, I expect rain will be forecast so we’ll see plenty more then. The report did not exactly raise any eyebrows with its findings – with facts such as 70% of men planned to cut the grass at Easter, compared with 57% of women. Good to see there is still some basis in fact to sexual stereotyping.
So, all-in-all the place is looking good and showing real signs of optimism for the summer, which suddenly feels like it’s just around the corner. I planted the potatoes on 14th April – which was four days later than the Old Man would have said – so can’t be bad, and the garlic and onions, despite relatively late plantings, compared with last year, are looking perky. The Amelanchier has been and gone in a trice – showing its stunning blossom for a few days before dropping its confetti on the former heather bed.
So now we await the greenshoots of spring to turn into a the lush green summer.