Sunday, 27 April 2014

Rain at last. And leeks.

Despite the screen on my phone last Sunday, I had to wait till Thursday before we had any appreciable rain. This was our first rain for almost three weeks and was needed. After the wettest winter on record, there is still plenty of moisture just under the surface.
However, the top layer is where the seedlings need to get a hold. With the delightful weather we had during my whole two week Easter break, I was pretty much up to date with everything except rotavating the spare veg patch and getting the first carrot seeds in. The only other outstanding job was a second sowing of Broad Beans and planting my last bag of onion sets. One small problem with the last couple of jobs though - they'd gone missing!
This problem was easily solved when I eventually looked inside a basket hanging in the lobby. But the rotavating and seed sowing were at the behest of the weather.
So, when the rain did finally arrive, I was straight out on the rotavator. The soil in the Spare Veg Patch is clayier and lumpier than the rest of  my veg patch. Without rain, cricket ball lumps of earth just travel round and round in the rotavator tines, emerging completely unscathed. But three hours after work on Thursday and another four on Friday had the ground looking much better, even if my arms and torso felt as if they'd taken a thorough bashing!

The rain prompted the parsnip seeds into action too. Always slow to germinate, but they always seem to come good in the end. Some very careful weeding will be required though as all manner of seedlings manage to come up before the parsnips.
And the potatoes are leaping into action too, helped by the ducks who insist on flattening the ridges. Luckily nights are warm at the moment so I can ridge them back up at my leisure. At least the ducks keep the slugs at bay. Reports from other veg growers suggest a bad year for them, but as yet I'm not seeing it, fingers crossed. So if it's down to the ducks, then a few flattened potato ridges are a price well worth paying.
Anyway, here are the Red Duke of Yorks.
And finally... the first leeks have gone outside. I grow them in half seed trays in the polytunnel. They always seem to germinate easily and once they are about six to nine inches tall (not quite the pencil thickness that everyone seems to recommend) I move them outside, planting them 9 inches apart in each direction. Planting leeks is a bit of a ritual. I make a hole as deep as I can with a dibber. Stopping the soil from instantly falling back in is somewhat of an art.
I then drop in the seedlings. I don't bother trimming the roots or the leaves and it seems to work very well. I then water the seedlings in and just allow the holes to fill up on their own. I always grow Musselburgh, which serves me well but is quite a late variety. So this year the first leeks in are Jolant, one of the earliest.
I planted a few rows of carrots. Purple Haze, White Satin, Ideal Red and Chantennay for a nice colourful mixture. I also sowed some Resistafly and some Flyaway. Hopefully they'll avoid carrot fly, even if the others don't. Lastly, a row of Autumn King and a row of Early Nantes - just for a bit of bulk standard carrotage.
As soon as they start coming through I'll sow the next lot.
And I'm still hoping that a few more of those April showers fall on Swallow Farm.

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