A decent night’s rain last week and four or five days of really warm Spring sunshine has bucked up the allotment and greenhouse no end. In the greenhouse all the brassica seedlings are doing fine- to the point where I have started pricking them our in little family groups into four inch pots. Cauliflower, two sorts of kale, cabbages and pak choi all look very vigorous, so I am pleased with Mr Brown’s seeds, but the very cheap ones from Focus and Willco’s are good as well. The leeks have sprouted in their larger pot and have unbent their little heads now.
At last, after early disasters, I have a decent clutch of sweetpeas, and the coriander and parsley have both germinated. The flower seedlings I planted in March are now so vigourous I have put some of them outside. My mixed tomatoes are quite interesting. Nothing yet from last year’s leftover sungold seeds, but this years gardener’s delight popped out very quickly and will be OK. I hope the rest of the tomatoes follow along soon. I always grow too many, but one can give them away. I had them in the kitchen and wonder if I should bring them back inside for a week or so longer, – nights are still decidedly chilly in the greenhouse.
Following the Sarah Raven and Monty Don tips I decided to sow a line of peas in a strip of guttering inside the greenhouse. it extends all along the table and out the other end. Just hope I have succeeded in keeping Mr Mousie out, or it will be a useless exercise.
We have two broodie hens sitting on clutches of eggs, and I discovered a third nest this evening which one of the little silkie-cross bantams had made under a bramble bush at the back of the copse where the hens live. She had about seven of her own eggs (infertile because the cockerel is far too big to get onto her), and surprisingly three pale green pheasant eggs as well. So is a hen pheasant laying eggs in the nest? Or did the hen discover three pheasant eggs and decided to add her own? Despite this very good initiative, David worries that the fox will get her if she camps out under the bush for the next three weeks, so has transferred her into the penning room and given her some fertile Welsummer eggs to sit on. The first hen’s chicks will be out next Friday and the second on Maunday Thursday. It takes three weeks to hatch hen’s eggs, -just in case you didn’t know, and why should you? David normally takes chicks into church on Easter day so he should be well supplied.
I made a big batch of nettle and wild garlic soup last week from the weeds in the corner of the hen runs. absolutely delicious. They cook together wonderfully, – a hint from a recipe book of old Romany cooking. – though the home made chicken stock may have helped. (not I might add concocted from our home-made chickens!)
Down on the allotment the shallots and onions are all sprouting green tops very cheerfully and seem to have rooted well. My broadbeans Bunyard’s Exhibition I planted about four weeks ago have emerged, some with yellow tips which I must learn more about. Hope they turn green soon. Today I planted a third row of potatoes, – these were some odds and ends we had in the pantry, – mainly little reds, so its a mystery joblot! I also sowed a double row of parsnips and radishes – the radishes mark where the parsnip seeds are, and will hopefully be grown and eaten before the parsnips want their spaces. I finally put in a line of perpetual spinach- found a seed packet I have had since 2007!. If they germinate it will be a miracle.
Finally I am pleased to see lots of flowers on the current bushes and gooseberries. We just need more rain now. The cherry tree half way up the park on our normal morning dog walk is quite magnificently covered in blossom. Those cherries are wonderful to eat, but you have to fight off the birds, and more nastily, all the wasps which gather on them as well. Less arduous to gather is rhubarb which is at its Spring best just now. I made an “Edensor Mess” with it on Sunday for lunch, – like “Eton Mess” but with Rhubarb, and I think just as nice.