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Let thy growing hours be strong

March, when days are getting long, Let thy growing hours be strong to set right some wintry wrong”Caroline May

What a wet and windy week we have had!  Such a contrast to our lovely February. During March the daylight increases by another 2 and a half hours. It makes it much easier to get up in the morning, I think. Although at the end of the month the clocks go forward an hour, so I feel cheated.

Despite the weather and the battering it has given the garden, spring is happening, We still have quite a few narcissi open in the garden. Daffodils were given the name narcissus, after the vain hunter who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. He wasted away staring at himself. The daffodils habit of growing with their head looking down obviously made people think of this.

I’ve planted a couple of garlic with the roses as part of my companion planting this year. Aphids don’t like the smell, so I am hoping they will keep the greenfly away. It’s also meant to prevent blackspot, so that will help too. I already spray some plants with a mixture of neem, washing up liquid and water. Neem oil is a natural product that helps stop fungal problems on plants.

The rhubarb has it’s hat on in the hope that it will be forced to grow for early spring. We were a bit late putting it on, but I’m hoping we will get what I think is the best tasting rhubarb in April and May. It has it’s plant label now, so even though you can’t see it, you know what’s there.

The last of the kale and broccoli are coming to the time they need to be pulled and eaten. I’ve been really pleased with the kale, its looking good and survived the cold weather. The purple sprouting broccoli has mainly been leaf, though there have been some small florets. The fennel should have been pulled in the autumn, but is still growing. It’s lasted so much better than I expected.

There are still herbs to pick too. The parsley seems to have lasted over the winter, but needs be used now before it runs to flower. I like to use it with garlic, mint, basil, capers and mustard. Whizzing it up with some oil and vinegar and using it as a salsa verde.

We are looking at seed growing now. Volunteers are collecting seed packets, pots and trays from the studio this week. They are growing seeds for us at home in the warm. We only have very limited space, so by taking them home the volunteers can nurture the seeds until they are ready to plant out. Most of our seeds have been donated and we have an amazing variety to bring lots of colour in the garden. Excess plants will be sold in plants sales to raise funds for the garden. We are looking for as many volunteers to help with this as we can. And they don’t need green fingers, just spaces to grow things in.

I’ve been looking at vermicomposting as a good way of producing compost and plant food. I have set up a wormery at home for about 50 red tiger worms. These are the best sort to use for composting. The common old earthworm just won’t do. I’m keeping them out of the cold, in my dining room, at the moment. They don’t like to get cold, and slow right down in the winter. So by keeping them warm I am hoping they will settle down and get on with their job. Its early days yet, but I am learning a lot about them in the hope that we can start awormery in our Bloomers garden this summer. Worms are more interesting than you’d think!

Blooming Old Gardener

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