What a fab weekend we've just had. The weather was warm and sunny, perfect for being in the garden. I managed to tidy up a bit and weed the beds, and the kids helped sow some seeds.
First, I moved the many pots of strawberry plants off the patio and into a sunny part of the garden adjacent to my raspberry canes and rhubarb. I did this so they can fruit in peace without being disturbed by bikes and toys. I quite like being able to move the strawberries around because it means once they are finished I can clear the area for a late crop of salad or carrots.
While preparing the seedbeds for sowing, I noticed a small area full of sunflower seedlings. These must have germinated after falling from fatballs hung above the plot for the birds. I potted these up: waste not want not!
We sowed two rows of summer sprouting broccoli, 1 row of Brussels sprout (Bosworth), and 1 row of calabrese (Belstar), with 5 seeds in each row. If all the seeds germinate there will be too many plants in the bed, because they need room around them for air to circulate and to avoid pests, but we can deal with that later!
I planted one row of peas (Kelvedon Wonder), which I wasn't planning to sow this year but I thought I would give them a go again since I did neglect them terribly last year! I'll probably sow another 2 rows of these every 2-3 weeks, to give me a succession of crops. This pea variety can be sown up to the end of June, so a large spread will give a longer growing season.
I also pushed a few broad bean seeds (Aquadulce Claudia) in gaps where earlier plants had died back (just to see if they grow). We have flowers at last on some early plants so we will get beans this year. They are very surprising yet attractive flowers, black and white in colour. At some point I will pinch out the growing tips to prevent blackfly. Last year I waited a few weeks after the first flowers bloomed and a lot more flowers came with no sign of blackfly, so I think I will just keep my eye on them.
Finally, I sowed 3 rows of leeks (Oarsman). Two rows went in between some early carrots (I am running out of space!) and one row went in between the carrots and onions. I mix carrots with onions because apparently the smell of onions helps discourage carrot root fly. I'm not sure about the science of that, but I didn't have a pest problem last year, so it can't hurt.
The plan above shows the current make-up of my veg plot (it's not to scale). Once last year's leeks are harvested (in the next month) I will plant French beans (Blue Lake, free Dig In seeds). Alternatively, if the broad beans don't last too long into the summer I shall put the beans where they are now and sow sugar snap peas where the leeks are. Both beans and peas are yet to be sowed (I've not bought any sugar snap seeds yet either!). I'll probably sow these into peat pots in the next 2 weeks and then plant the whole pot when space is available. That means I won't lose much growing time. Beans have a very long season so the sooner they are sowed the sooner we'll get a crop.
Thinking ahead to when my potatoes are ready to dig up in June or July, we sowed sweetcorn (Extra Tender & Sweet F1 Hybrid) in 16 peat pots. If all seeds germinate this will give us a 4 by 4 block, which hopefully will be perfect for pollination. For groundcover under the sweetcorn we will be growing courgettes. We have free seeds from BBC Dig In (Black Beauty), which we sowed in two medium-size pots (2 seeds in each). We won't need more than four plants (we'll probably only need two!) so if they don't all germinate it's not a disaster.
For germination indoors, we sowed 6 pots of tomatoes (Gardener's Delight) and two medium pots of sweet peppers (Mini Bell Mixed), with 2 seeds in each. I will only want two tomato plants and two pepper plants, but since I don't have a greenhouse I have sown more than I need to allow for non-germination and any that die. If I have extras I'll be generous and give them to neighbours!
Finally, into large pots we sowed Chantenay carrots and mixed salad (Dig In) and pumpkins (Mars), and into small peat pots we sowed sunflowers (Sunshine Giant).