April has followed the pattern set so far in 2019: cooler and wetter than normal. As a result there were a few adjustments made to both indoor seeding and outdoor planting schedules, with postponements mainly due to wet soil conditions or lack of greenhouse space. Surprisingly, there were an equal number of rainy days and sunny days, 11 each with the remainder drearily overcast, like the day when the official monthly portrait of the potager was taken. There is water standing in many of the paths, and even the soil is the raised beds is too wet to do any work at all. The observant of you will have noted that the poly-tunnel has finally been removed but the green chairs have yet to be brought out from the shed. The few nice days did enable one to get out to enjoy the abundance of daffodils, grape hyacinths and now the tulips. The photo is a section of the potager’s interior border this week. The various beds have really changed this month. All of the early crops are up and thriving, like Bed 1d, which contains (left to right) “Red Ace” beets, cipollini, a double row of “Green Arrow” peas (second planting) on the fence and “French Breakfast” radishes mixed with the slower “Nantes” carrots. The potager’s edging is filling in nicely as shown in Bed 5a, with the “Penny Orange” violas beginning to bloom, the mini Tulip “Bright Gem” opening and “Little Gem” lettuces adding a bright green buffer before the “Deerfield Purple” garlic. Here’s those adorable tulips up close: They are only about 4″ tall, and 2″ of that is bloom! Here’s the first bed that was planted this spring, Bed 5e, with the first planting of “Green Arrow” peas climbing their fence. That’s more “Little Gem” lettuce far left, and more “Red Ace” beets. Looking at this photo, I just realized that somehow I missed planting the violas on the right edge! That goes on the top of the job list! The asparagus planted last year is throwing up new stalks, which will remain unharvested. The “Seascape” strawberries are in bloom as are the gooseberries and black currants. I’m just hoping some pollinators can work quickly between storms. I’m elated that so many of the lavenders and lavandins seemingly have survived the winter and are showing new growth. With the extreme cold and overall exceedingly wet winter, I wouldn’t have been surprised at total extinction! The gaps in the bottom row occurred last year, and replacements are already potted. It tends to be the wettest so the replacements will be seed grown (therefore cheap!) “Hidcote” lavender.
The “major” accomplishments for April were 1) getting the Deck Garden, Cutting Garden, Addition Garden, Front and South Islands, and all the potager’s interior and exterior borders cleaned, trimmed, and tidied. Still to do are the North Island, Fairy Garden, Primrose Lane, Blue Garden, Lavender slope and berry rows. 2) finally getting the sticks picked up in the front yard and doing the initial mowing before it was too tall for the lawn mower although parts of the back yard have remained too soggy to even think about mowing, so the dandelions are thriving. 3) planting the first cole crops in the potager beds, like the “Majestic” cauliflower above, which made them very happy indeed 4) the emergence of the broad beans (loyal readers are aware of my struggles with this crop) and several other direct-seeded veg crops 5) getting the first batch of bagged cow manure and getting some of that on the raised beds between storms 6) the planting of nearly 300 transplants (mainly violas along the potager path edges and “Liberty” snapdragons in the potager’s interior beds 7) the planting of the new roses 8) the planting of two new varieties of strawberries. Not bad considering the weather, Easter holiday, etc.
The small harvests of over-wintered spinach have been more frequent this month, additionally with pickings of radicchio, bunching onions and dandelion greens. Chives have been snipped and leaves of salad burnet pinched off to add to salads. Even a few fresh basil leaves were harvested from the most robust of the basement seedlings for a special meal. Baby lettuce leaves can be picked anytime now, since there is such an abundance that we’ll never be able to eat them all full-grown.
The usual springtime routine of seeding, transplanting, moving plants from basement to greenhouse, moving plants from greenhouse to the hardening off area and weeding have continued as weather and space permitted. At least this month there was the added excitement of watching the buds open in the gardens and the emergence of green rows in the potager.
Seeded varieties this month: 27
Seeded varieties to date: 126 (121 in 2016, 122 in 2017, 113 in 2018)
Total transplants to date: 3,229 (3,302 in 2016; 3,810 in ’17; 2,318 in ’18)
Harvest to date: 5.25 lbs (1.25 in 2017, .75 in 2018) no harvest records kept in 2016.
That’s April, which seemed to fly by and be exceedingly short. Hopefully May will bring a little more warmth (but not too warm for those fussy broad beans!) and enough dry days that the farmers can finally get into the fields. There are still leftover tasks from the April list, backlogged planting, and a brand new job list for May. It’s probably the same for you, but DO take time to enjoy all the flowers as they bloom. They are so fleeting, and too magical to miss!