April showers? Alas not!
It has been a long cold spring in the garden and it's now desperate for rain! We've just finished our first SS course of the year (and first since before Covid 19 - hurrah!) – lots of seeds sown, hoeing done, pricking out plants in the greenhouse and being amazed at how quickly some plants grow. The garlic, onions and parsnips are all doing well, even if they are a bit slower than usual.
We have already been able to plant out brassicas and salad from the greenhouse – after a few days hardening off on the patio. At least the cool weather does not put them under too much pressure. This year we are trying a new form of netted protection for the brassicas – it looks good but we will see how well it keeps off the birds and butterflies.
The greenhouse is still burgeoning with healthy seedlings – courgette, sweet corn, celery, tomatoes, salad and cucumbers. It is always amazing to see how warm the unheated greenhouse gets – even on the coolest of days we are seeing temperatures more than 25 degrees. Warm enough to enjoy our picnic lunch from!
There are a good supply of plants (mostly salad) hardening off waiting to be planted out.
The cement blocks retain enough heat from the day to avoid any sever shock to the plants being moved out from their cosy greenhouse.
After a day and night here they will be ready to go into the cool ground in the open garden.
The strawberries and thornless blackberry are rapidly getting ready to fruit. The strawberries are feeling refreshed after having their bed cleared out and hopefully they will fill the spaces with new plants. Even the concrete raised bed isn't enough to contain these walking plants, as we have found them coming up alongside the large bed and even int he greenhouse border!
During the cold weather I have been busy in the workshop getting a new supply of Northumbrian A frame scythes ready for the summer – we sold 15 last year and expect the growing scything fashion to continue as wildflower meadows replace fossil fuelled city lawns.
ON THE COURSE
Our two “students” enjoyed a busy week of multiple activities and sumptuous evening meals in front of a blazing log fire. (The weather was cool, dry and very un-springlike!) This year my granddaughter Cecily, who was a chef at the famous (expensive) River Cafe in London, is preparing the meals and helping teach the courses.
We sowed a lot of seeds, transplanted seedlings and pricked out young plants in the warmth of the greenhouse. The students selected some specific skills to focus on including the challenge of digging a small deep-bed, learning how to hoe and rotavate to control weeds, and making our own sausages from scratch.
We went on walks on the magnificent Northumbrian beaches and moorland, and enjoyed eating picnic lunches “al fresco”. A particular favourite spot of ours is just down from the famous Bamburgh Castle, which happily also justifies a visit to Carter's for their super meat pies. In the evenings we visited the local pub for music, played cards, ate, drank and talked long into the night – always stimulating to hear about other people's lives, interests and beliefs. Thanks to Kate and Anne for joining us on this first course back after such a long hiatus!
Our next course starts in just a few short days, we look forward to welcoming the next set of students. Don't forget, there are still spaces available on our June course, and we are open to running a fourth course in September if enough interest is generated.