Spring has sprung, and the borders around the hotel are coming to life as our daffodils, tulips, irises and bluebells begin to show themselves. The herbaceous perennials are coming back to life too, and all have enjoyed the recent unseasonably warm weather.
Throughout winter I have been reinvigorating the borders with fresh soil and composted manure, culminating in a large clearance of brambles and nettles in front of the conservatory, ready to sow annual wildflowers that will hopefully bring this slightly forgotten corner back to life.
Down at the potager garden, the kale has given its last harvest while the overwintered purple sprouting broccoli and cabbages are coming into their own.
The sprouting broccoli has done particularly well given it suffered a severe flea beetle attack in the arid conditions of last summer.
To keep the fleas away, it is essential to keep the young seedlings moist (this will also help prevent them running to seed), or try hanging sticky pads over them as the jumping fleas get stuck.
There’s an old wives’ tale about using nepeta cuttings to repel the fleas, but I find it is not particularly effective – marigolds can be a good companion plant, and their colour is an added bonus.
Our onions and garlic, sown last year, are developing well – and very soon I’ll be getting first early potatoes in the ground.
Last year’s crop was hit with blight – this is a serious condition so I had to remove all the foliage, and get it buried far away to prevent spread.
Blight is easy to spot – leafs and stems turn brown, and wilt with a watery rot – and it can also affect tomatoes, but our outside toms did not suffer, so it would seem I stopped any spread, thankfully.
This year I’m using Maris Peer seed potatoes as they are blight resistant, so fingers crossed this time round.
As spring goes on, I’ll be sowing chillis, peppers, spring onions, carrots, lettuces and leeks to name just a few – it may be a little early at the moment, but the temptation is to do it now, now, now and as the long-range weather forecast is favourable, it is a temptation that may be too hard to resist.
If you have any gardening questions, feel free to drop me a line at the hotel and I’ll help wherever I can.