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This February has seen a really damp start to the year here in Wales. We’ve been battered by two storms and the most recent storm, named Storm Eunice hit us with incredible winds. Thankfully we had a boot of tools in readiness for the storm and the Keder greenhouse managed to hold up to the 90mph winds. Whilst there is no doubt that Gardening is seasonal, the variations in our weather right across the UK means that there is no set rules for setting actual dates for sowing and planting. Whilst gardening calendars are really useful, the weather will determine what we can do in the garden. In this edition, we’ll give you an update on what’s happening in the garden as well as some pointers to help you maximise the benefits from your garden.
It’s been a relatively mild Winter and it’s great to now see the hard work from the autumn planted bulbs emerging, with Spring on the horizon. The garden is being brightened up with the snowdrops popping into flower, the daffodils springing open and tulips popping through. We’ve even seen the first frog spawn and these welcome guests will become our gardening friends in the summer months.
The final harvests are being carried out and we have a little Kale and Brussel Sprouts still to harvest. We’ve needed to make sure that we have removed yellowing leaves which helps to prevent brassica downy mildew and grey mould from spreading.
For now, we have ordered our remaining seed potatoes and started off the chitting process on the ones that have been delivered. To chit potatoes, stand them on end in a module tray or egg box and place them in a bright, cool, frost-free place. This gives the potatoes a head start when they are planted out into the ground and containers. We’ve also started off a few garlic cloves and these should be ready for harvesting in late July, early August.
On a Giant Veg update, we’ve already started off our Giant Cabbages and our seeds from our World Record Beetroot have been started off too. If you fancy growing your own tomatoes, now is a good time to start ordering and start off a few seeds. Remember not to plant the whole packet as the seeds can be stored in a fridge and will last longer this way. Stagger a few sowings and this will prevent a glut of tomatoes and a staggered crop for the summer salads. That’s if they manage to make it out of the greenhouse.
If you haven’t started clearing out your allotment area or greenhouse, now is the ideal opportunity to make a start and even try to clean down the glass, but be careful. A clean greenhouse and garden leads to healthy, happy plants. The Stiga power washer has been really useful in washing down the greenhouse as well as the car and even the decking. The algae can build up and make these areas slippery. We even managed a smile with ours. See our video reel here.
If you’re keen to make a start sowing, you can now plant aubergines, chillies and tomatoes. If you are able to get onto the patch or have raised beds, you can sow plants such as Beetroot, carrot, celeriac, peas, radish, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, broad beans, spring onions, as well as a few potatoes. Sometimes, it’s better to wait for the ground to warm up, don’t rush your planting as the plants will soon catch up.
Last season we built several raised beds. Now is the ideal opportunity to create raised beds in the garden or on the allotment. These beds allow us to make an early start in the garden; speeding up the soil warming as well as improving the drainage. On the one raised bed we planted perennial asparagus and we’ll soon be mulching this area with well-rotted manure or garden compost. If you are quick, you can order asparagus crowns and get these planted in the garden. These will provide fresh spears for many seasons to come.
This season we are growing a selection of sweet peas. They’re relatively easy to grow in a pot, but need to be kept in a frost-free environment. Nip off the main growing point after two leaves and this will encourage them to become even stronger plants. We’ve sown fox gloves as well as lavender, so hopefully we can try out a few different plants this year to brighten up the garden.
In terms of other gardening jobs, if by a miracle, the weather stays dry in Wales, we will attempt to make our first cut of the season. Stiga have a wide range of garden machinery from Battery operated to petrol mowers. Why not have a browse on their website and get yourself prepared for the season ahead. Now is also the ideal time to take your mowers and other garden machinery to be serviced. Stiga have a wide network of partners throughout the UK and these can be found here.
If you’re thinking of things to do with the kids or grandchildren, take them on a nature trail, get messy and even make a few bird boxes in readiness for the bird nesting season.
It’s rewarding seeing the birds utilise their safe homes. Take a few pictures of your attempts to help nature or even being out in the great outdoors and tag #STIGA @stigalawnmowers and #Giantveg @giantveg into the posts on Facebook and Instagram. We’ll have a selection of GiantVeg related goodies to give away for 5 lucky winners.
Thanks to Kevin @GiantVeg for the fabulous article and photos.