Is anyone else desperately craving the end to the rain?
The potager garden is starting to struggle under the weight of all this wind and rain – how much more can we endure?
So far we’ve lost the felt from the shed roof, and the polytunnel cover had to be replaced after it was destroyed by Storm Ciara.
But of course, our problems are nothing compared to the poor people whose homes and businesses have been flooded – to them everyone at Crouchers wishes nothing but a speedy return to normality.
Life goes on though and now is the time to start harvesting the purple sprouting broccoli. Fingers crossed it lasts well into April, and it should, but there are ways of lengthening the harvesting period.
The best time to harvest is when the flower florets are well formed but have not yet flowered – it is easy to forget that broccoli is a flower.
Using a sharp knife cut the central spike first as this will encourage the sideshoots to grow quicker – you’re effectively diverting the plant’s energy from the central spike to the sideshoots.
When harvesting the sideshoots, I prefer to take at least five inches of stem as there is plenty of taste therein.
If you harvest in this way regularly, it should extend the harvesting season.
Moving on, we’ve starting sowing! Golden Acre cabbages (a summer variety) are coming, as well as a few flowers – including aubrietia to compliment that already around the Cider House and cottages.
And you may remember I took cuttings from our Dogwood in January time. I took 20 in all truly believing not all would be successful – how wrong I was.
Now I have 20 new Dogwood plants all throwing out fresh growth which is fantastic, but where I shall put them when the time comes I have yet to decide.
This month’s jobs include preparing the vegetable beds for salad potatoes and brassicas – the latter needs a good showering with lime to increase the alkalinity of the soil.
Brassicas are not fans of acidic soil and while they will still grow and produce, they are more vulnerable to diseases such as clubroot.
It is also the time to get mulching – I’ll start with the fruit cage, especially the strawberries.
They’ll get a good mulching of our home-made compost, and then I’ll lay a cover of straw to keep the developing fruits off the soil and hopefully prevent any rotting.
I’m hopeful we’ll get a good glut of strawberries this summer, so if you enjoy dinner with us one weekend, keep an eye out on the menu.
And feel free to come to the potager garden for a chat – hopefully the ground will have dried out by then!