Spring has officially been and gone though you wouldnít know it looking at the weather. We have had a lot of grey and wet days. I have found the spring garden much more manageable this year for a few reasons.
Firstly the weather - though itís often been grey and wet the temperature hasnít been too bad and we have had some very hot sunny days in between. Things have been growing like crazy but the rain has meant that the time required for watering has been minimal.
Secondly, I was conscious when sowing seeds to only sow what I thought we would need so did not have as many seed trays to look after, or excess plants to find spots and care for. Lastly my little boy is now two and much more able to entertain himself outside with me while I garden than he was this time last year.
This is a great time of year as the variety of vegetables available from the garden is increasing day by day. Weíve had the choice of pak choi, tat soi, new potatoes, silverbeet, broccoli, spinach, peas, broad beans, radishes, mizuna, arugula and lettuces for a few weeks and are just starting to pick a few spring onions, baby carrots and beetroot.
Iím really pleased with the lettuce selection this year as I have three different seed varieties, but have also been picking out the lettuces from the mesclun mix when small and replanting them in any spaces through the garden - so I have at least ten different types of lettuce to pick a couple of leaves from, and end up with a really colourful and tasty salad.
In the glasshouse this year, Iíve planted mainly cucumbers, baby squash, peppers, egg plants, and one courgette which has a couple of fruit ready to pick.
I planned to put melons in there as well put have had trouble getting seedlings going for the melon varieties I have. The tomatoes are outside this year so only time and the weather will tell how they will cope.
Iíve planted less carrot, beetroot and parsnip so about a third of that bed is in early potatoes which Iíve been digging under with my hand the last couple of weeks to harvest enough for the nightís dinner. Iíve also got main crop potatoes in tyres.
Both lots I have made sure Iíve mulched well with pea straw, compost and horse manure and they seem to be going really well. We also have a crop growing in one of our compost heaps which Iíll have to dig soon as we need the bin for the next lot of compost.
There seem to be fewer bug problems in the garden this year (for now anyway) - a lot less slugs and snails, and aphid numbers donít seem to be as high.
The main plants Iíve had problems with are my herbs, which for some reason the bugs do seem to be finding. Also all my parsley is insisting on going to seed and I didnít sow any new parsley in spring this year so Iíve been a little bit caught out until I get some in or the existing ones self seed.
Iíve been really happy with some of the different varieties Iíve tried. The broad beans have been great as they were first ready when not much else was and are really nice when young and tender (my two year old has lived on them along with strawberries and fresh peas.)
The Arugula (Perennial Rocket) is very easy to grow, takes up not much space and adds a nice bite to salads and pizzas. Also seems slow to go to seed.
Sugar snap peas
Sugar snap peas I would no longer be without. Being able to eat a juicy pod without the stringiness straight from the vine is hard to beat and they are also perfect for salads.
I await with anticipation the Florence fennel, artichokes and Prickly Caterpillar.
Iíve also had some success from seed I collected myself last season, peas and rat tailed radish in particular. Strawberry spinach and sunflowers have been popping up everywhere. I hope to collect a larger variety of seed this year.
Fruit wise we have had a good crop of strawberries, the pear and apple tree are still not looking their best but much improved from what they were, the grape vines may have one or two bunches this year and a neighbour has given us a couple of currant plants. We have more rhubarb then we can possible consume.
Itís amazing the difference a year makes as you get your systems in place and learn from the year before. All in all itís been a rewarding season so far.