This week’s garden is brought to you by the colour green. In the middle of winter when every colour is muted by the all pervading grey, or when it’s spring and you spend all your time desperately trying to protect the tiny slivers of seedlings it’s easy to forget just how green the garden is in the summer.
Despite the rain, despite the muggy looming skies, or perhaps because of them, my garden is in full riot.
It’s the spinach that really took off this week, it’s gone from a sprinkling of seedlings to a carpet to a full on hedge, and right now we are definitely not eating it at the rate it grows. I’ve pinched out the tops to stop them flowering, mostly because I have a recollection of Mum telling me to do that with some spinach that I grew years ago. I didn’t at the time and it bolted, grew leaves that could easily have doubled up as umbrellas, and I spent a solid morning cutting out the stems before we could eat any of the leaves.
I’m thinking that either I need to see if anyone in my office likes spinach, or I need to freeze a few portions for the winter; it’s far too tasty to let go to waste, and the birds and minibeasts appear to be leaving it alone for now. Actually, looking at that picture again maybe I need to do both.
Even the peas and beans have deigned to do a little growing this week. The beans are definitely emulating the tortoise rather than the hare; despite being one of the first things planted this year we haven’t got to the point of needing stakes just yet. The peas on the other hand have definitely started that grasping search for something to cling onto; reaching out and patting the neigbouring soil like someone trying to find their glasses on the bedside table of a morning.
I know I’ve got some wigwam holders and some more canes somewhere in the shed, but for now I’ve borrowed some stakes and the hosepipe arches from the soft fruit bed to rig up two pea arches. Hopefully the peas will approve.
For the root veg I hope I have done my final thinning. It feels completely sacrilegious to be pulling up perfectly good vegetable seedlings, especially when, like the parsnips, they’ve actually been doing pretty well. Petite little parsnips, and doll sized carrots just starting to turn from white to orange as if touched by the dawn.
But my new garden mantra is “quality not quantity” and I know if I want proper full sized veg it has to happen to give the others room to grow. I’ve gone by the highly scientific method of gut instinct and just pulled what looked like it was struggling or would soon run out of room if I imagined a full grown carrot beneath the surface.
The thinnings I’ve left for the birds in the hope that it will distract them from my strawberries. We’ve been having a very successful strawberry harvest so far, growing lovely big juicy red berries – which promptly get snatched from beneath our less than watchful gaze by a highly intelligent blackbird with excellent taste. We haven’t eaten a single one. It’s entirely my own fault; I haven’t netted them and I haven’t mulched them so frankly what was I expecting to happen. Netting and straw are top of the agenda for the weekend though; I will have my homegrown strawberries and cream before the summer’s out.
Which just leaves the onions and garlic, now looking less like a riot, and more like the morning after. They had their moment of glory in the spring, when all around was merely dark earth and promise, and now I’m just waiting until the right moment to lift them; which from memory is usually the point at which we realise that we need an onion for supper and we’ve run out.