Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Comparison time

For the past 2 days in Iwade we have had lovely sunshine, with the daytime temperature comfortable enough to work in the garden without a coat, although a jumper was needed. In the Medway towns, just 10 miles away, they were experiencing the same sunshine, but still interspersed with sleet and snow showers. I was looking at my gardening diary from last year, and realised how much colder this spring is. By now I had planted up my tomatoes into their final pots, planted some runner beans in pots, and got cucumbers started off too. This year the tomatoes, peppers and chillies have still been coming in at night, the beans and cucumbers are still in their packets. It looked quite a hard frost last night and the night before. The greenhouse roof is still iced over, but the more hardy plants, tucked up under their fleecy blanket, seem to have faired OK. The thermometer was down to -1, but during the day yesteray it was 19-20, with the door and vents open!

The tigrella tomatoes are showing the first signs of flower buds, on par with last year, so hopefully I'll be able to get them planted up soon. The problem is space, I don't want to move things like the potatoes out too soon, but the tomato pots need a lot of room. There are a few things I am more advanced with. The celeriac is earlier, and I have the lettuce and spinach growing well. I need to put in a new sowing of kohl rabi as Vicky loves it raw, but goodness know what I have done with the seed! The first plants are ready to put out now they have been hardened off, but I know I will lose some to slugs.

The forecast is sunny for the next few days, so I am hoping to twist Daniel's arm and get him to do some digging and rearrange some of the pots on the patio. I was going to spring clean the house, but the gardening is much more enjoyable! I must get on with the 6th form marking though, as I've almost 50 A level units to give feedback on before we return. The wonders of ICT means that they are all stored electronically, so I haven't got loads of folders cluttering up the space. However piles of folders are a tacit reminder of the amount of work to do, a file on the computer is more easily ignored!

Yesterday I sorted out the fan trained cherry, Sunburst, removing the twine I had used to tie it in, and replacing it with rubber coated wire. It should be easier to loosen off as the branches grow. I hope the cranberry flowers have weathered the frost. The two bushes are well in flower now, so we were hoping for a good crop.

Last year I decided that raspberries would be a good investment as they charge a fortune for them in the shops. I bought 5 summer fruiting canes, and 5 autumn fruiting ones. We prepared the ground with plenty of compost, and got them in quickly after purchase, but only one of each type made it. This year the summer fruiting one, Glen Ample, is growing well and has put up 4 new shoots, which I am going to move into a row, but the autumn one is moving much more slowly.

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