One of our crops has not worked this year and we had problems with it last year, the Spinach, really not sure why nothing comes up when things do well around it so we have decided to try it in plug trays in the glass house to get it going, then plant it out, the major problem is that it is such a great vegetable that I do not just want to drop it from my seed list next year, we will let you know how we get on with it, Chris next-door has said that he will look after the glass house while I am away this week, it will be great t come back to a full tray of Spinach plants.
It is that time of the year again when the Artichokes need to have there slips taken off to start new plants, we do not like to do this job too early as the new crop will start to fruit while the other crop is in fruit, making the season shorter, we do this every year, it is why we have four rows, each year two rows are lifted and slips (offsets from the main plant) taken off and planted in new beds, the plants that were the slips last year will fruit first and the new slips will fruit later in the summer which is a great thing as it means we have a very long season of fruit, from May till November in a good year. The roots did seem to be good on the slips already, I hope they take as well as they did last year and they say we are going to have two days of rain, perfect to get things going.
We have carried out the second major seed sowing for the spring, this second lot are the winter vegetable and things like Climbing Beans, plants that like a little warmth in there early life, we have also sown a lot of different Pumpkins and Gourds, a lot of which Kyle sent over from the USA, thank you Kyle. Thomas and I spent an afternoon sowing seed down in the potting shed on Good Friday, he then went on to NYC for a week, when he gets back he is going to be very happy to see the seeds have already done something. Michael , the nursery manager here at Great Dixter gave him a seed sowing lesson, I think I need the same lesson, my seeds do not seem to do as well.
What a pleasure it was for me today to be planting out seedlings with my new trowel, it is very light weight and moves well through our soil which is a heavy clay soil that has had a lot of compost added to it over the years but can still be heavy, so to find a tool that works so well on the soil is a real joy. Once again I would like to thank Mr and Mrs Sneeboer for such a special gift, I know that it is going t be with me for a very long time, my rating for the trowel is 11 out of 10, the next best tool I use is also made by Sneeboer, the Royal Dutch hoe, thanks. I even let Thomas use both of these tools today…..
It is not something that I would often think about, less write about but I am very happy with the job we have done on the grass path in the fruit cage, the area was a bit of a mess and so last year I was talking about it with someone (I can not remember who it was to thank them), they said why not grow a grass path in the middle of the two rows of Raspberries and that is what we have let happen over the winter and this week we have put an edge on it (thank you Linda), the whole area looks so much better for it. Now we just need to wait for Lewis to go up there with the mower, it should look great after that.
At this time of the year you do not always have enough greens in the garden to eat, this is when the wild comes into its own, on the weekend we went down to the wood to collect a large basket of Wild Garlic (Allium Ursinum) to make pesto, one of the things I like Thomas to do when he is here is to make pasta by hand, it never tastes as good as this, and with Linda here to help out I asked the students in for a meal of fresh pasta and wild garlic pesto, the meal was so good, and with the great weather we sat out to eat.
We have help up in the vegetable garden part time for the next six weeks, I have a good friend over from Australia who is going to help me up there, Thomas does have a love of garden work which helps a lot but I do rather treat him like the under gardener he is not, he is a friend first and slave second….once he leaves I have another friend who will be over from New York in the summer, again I put her to work, Lee is very high up in the art world but has developed a love of garden work (with my help) which I think her Mother Nancy is rather happy about as she is a great gardener herself. I am very happy to have both of them in my life but even happier to have them in the garden working.
Sometimes in life you do not need a lot of money but a good smile and some good old fashion charm, that is what I had to get out yesterday when Mr and Mrs Sneeboer Tools came for a visit, they make some of the best tools that money can buy and now have the range to top all other rangers, TITANIUM tools with a walnut handle…when I saw them I had to have them and was ready to do what had to be done to get a set, lets just say I got a set and am very happy to report that I used the hand fork today, we have love, it is light and moves very well in the soil. I also love what it says on their site about the tools “Tools fit for a Queen”, do I need to say more?
It now would be great to have a night of rain, a light English rain is needed up in the vegetable garden to get the rows of seed moving. The High Garden is now half full of rows of seed I am happy to report, yesterday I sowed another four rows, they are Anethum graveolens “Long Island Dill’, Territorial Seed, Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’, Thompson and Morgan Seed (I think this is the best spring onion, it keeps going through the winter for us), Parsnip ‘Countess F1 Hybrid’, Thompson and Morgan Seed, and Lettuce ‘Spring Mix’, The Cooks Garden Seed. Oh well since we did not get rain last night I had better get up there and water.
The Potatoes went in today I am very happy to report, for some of you on a light soil this will be rather late but that is what has happened at Dixter for many years, we put them in at this time, it works for our clay soil so why change it, of course we could cover the area in white fleece but all of you who know me, know that I found this kind of thing rather low rent and not something I would want to see when on a garden visits to such a historical garden like Dixter. We planted P. “Picasso (the best baker I have found, great taste in both skin and flesh, still in our store, I will be baking with them next week), P. “Pink Fir Apple (such a great old potatoes, we are using them in the kitchen still, that is how well they also store) and P.”Charlotte” (can you beat the taste boiled when fresh out of the ground?). You can see by the photo that the Charlottes wanted to get into the ground.