It rained lightly last night, with the roads still damp by late morning. After a morning tending to the small matter of replenishing our larder and provisions, we had a quick lunch at home and then went out to the plot. Heaven! By the time we arrived we’d missed the best of the day and the clouds were drawing in, but even a cloudy day is beautiful up there.
Malink fixed up the new raised bed. Yesterday he installed a divider into the bed, and then screwed in place four wooden broom poles, which support plastic pea netting. This is to discourage the birds, who ate each and every single gooseberry we had on our plants last summer!!
We’ve since been told by those who know, that netting all year long is necessary, as the birds eat the bud growth mid-winter, so you can’t simply add netting around fruiting time – which is done with dwarf cherry and plum trees, for example.
So into this ‘four poster’ plant bed I moved in the potted gooseberry. We have one other small gooseberry bush — planted in earth — that also needs to be transplanted into the new bed (it’s presently ensconced into the raspberry bed but needs moving). The final touch will be to devise garden netting as a front protection to completely enclose the gooseberry bed. A friend used to weave a wooden broom stick into the bottom of the netting to keep a firm end line and help secure it (which we will do with bricks.) It’s all going to be magnificent. Tremendous!
But then again, I’m not sure how shady this patch will be — it is at the base of the fig tree from our front neighbour’s — and that will definitely create shade. But perhaps it’ll be dappled enough to be ok? Not sure. The original plan had been for a semi-shade cooler condition plot for salad and spinach crops — anything prone to bolt. And yet the perfect little framed shelter is exactly what the gooseberry needs: a super-luxury four-poster bed complete with netting canopy! It may be, in the end, that the solution is simply to reproduce and replicate the new raised bed somewhere else in a sunnier position – and move the gooseberries there…. Je ne sais pas. It’s a moveable feast. That’s gardening: nothing more precise than ‘wait and see.’ Watch. Gardening involves quite a bit of watching! See how the sunbeams fall. Then weigh up the options. Monitor how things fare. Reckon whether you have the energy or capability. Then tweak. And so on. There’s no end to it.
Things are a little easier with annuals and vegetable patches. Finally made progress on the bean bed. Yipee! This afternoon I planted the broad bean patch. On previous visits I’d turned over the ground with a garden fork – still very sticky heavy clay – and mixed in manure.
Broad beans can be direct sown from February, but the ground at our plot’s been too wet, too much heavy clay for turning and working. So we’ve had to wait. (Broad bean can also be sown late November, and I think that’s definitely the preferable option for future years).
The cloches and bamboo posts were placed out yesterday. So all I had to do today was premix some friable potting soil, water it, then dig out a 2 inch hole.
From there it’s as simple as adding a handful of wet soil at the bottom of the hole, place the bean, and then cover over with more wet potting mix. (Give the bean a blessing as you go!)
Firm over with clay. Then water the whole bed before replacing the water bottle cloches, held in place by the bamboo stakes.
Go broad beans, go!
Also started outdoor are two ceramic planters seeded with radish, and another terra cotta box planter seeded with coriander. Love coriander! And when coriander bolts to flower, the tiny white flowers are pretty in a vase. Can’t lose with coriander!
Indoors at the allotment… the potting shed is now full with starter plants. We had a bit of luck and received an offer from the garden centre to deliver remaining stock before they closed for coronavirus. So we ordered some cauliflower plants, beefsteak tomato, yellow cherry tomato and courgette, along with some bags of seed and potting soil.
All these little starter plants have been potted up and are now in the shed, staying warm and growing.
There are also two small flats of seeded purple beans and garden peas. No sign of growth from them yet (but only seeded them on Sunday). And a flat of seeded sunflower seeds. Old seeds but there’s no harm in trying! Might as well try old seed, and if they grow, well that’s super!
Death in Italy decreases day by day – with only 636 deaths in the last 24 hours. Over 13,000 dead in Spain. Spain also has lower numbers for the fourth day in a row, so there is a downward trend after lockdown. New York still in meltdown. A tiger in Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the virus!
Face-masks are daily becoming required outer-wear – encouraged in USA since the weekend (but not for Trump), and compulsory in places like Romania and Prague.
Deaths in the UK are 5,300+. The Prime Minister here is in hospital with coronavirus as of last night. And this afternoon his condition worsened…
Breaking News: PM Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital. Apparently not on a ventilator, but is being given oxygen. Things are getting stranger by the day.