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The joys of our polytunnels mean that even on horrid days we can be doing something and be toasty and dry. Lyra can come down and play whilst we get on with the serious business of growing this years supply of veg.

Four of the outdoor beds are planted with autumn sown onion sets, garlic we saved from last years crop and bought garlic put in this Jan/Feb. There is about 5kg of garlic planted out there, Lyra was very handy at passing me the garlic as I moved down the bed with the dibber so I could wodge it in and cover it quickly!  I decided not sow any seed directly as the chickens have been far, far too interested in the outdoor beds and dug things up a few times, but have mostly been kept off now.  I also won’t sow peas and beans direct in the tunnels as most were taken by mice last year.

Seed sowing has started in earnest here, plants for outside have been sown in trays and modules, broccolis, kohl rabi, sprouts, turnips, peas, broad beans, lettuces, leaves, herbs. Sweet peas, which I love, both tall ones and some mini hanging basket ones. I definitely want to grow more flowers this year so will start off the half hardy annuals on the hot bed and the hardy ones just on the benches. Cosmos, Zinnia,  Poppies….There are self sown calendula in big tunnel and we kept a lot of seed back. I’ll also add in Tagetes again as the bees and hoverflies and all the good flying beasties seemed to enjoy them.

This week I have started sowing seeds which need warmth to germinate –  squashes, sweet peppers, tomatoes, basils. These are what we like to eat.  I’ve sown  the squashes and peppers into individual pots, and the toms into a tray, well spaced, so that they’re easy to transplant to grow on in larger pots, for swapping. I will be sowing melon and cucumber, sweetcorn, and maybe a courgette (far too many last year!) in the next few days. We’ve been very lucky to have lots of friends who like growing, and through GIY, so we can try new tastes by swapping, rather than buying many kinds of seed and plants. Our lovely American WWOOFers, Clare and Armando also brought us some heritage American seed varieties. We decided not to grow quite so many unusual varieties this year and are sticking to those that we most like to eat, with just a couple of experiments, such as  cucuamelons, tomatillo and inca berries which we hope have come through the winter. I have seed just in case so I’ll give them another few weeks.

Our potatoes are chitting away on the kitchen windowsill and will probably be put in next weekend, Paddy’s day, which is when I usually put them in, and is the traditional date for potato planting.

Our fruit trees and bushes are just starting into bud and a few have actually come into leaf. We now have 28 cultivars of Apple, 3 Pear, 4 Plums/gages, 3 Cherries, 1Quince, 1 Medlar, 1 Mulberry, 1 Sweet chestnut and many hazels as well as  Gooseberries, black, white and Redcurrants, Blueberries, Raspberries and various hybrid berries.  We have Blackthorn, Elder, Cherry Plum and more Hazel on order for hedging.

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