March ended with a heatwave (for two days anyway) but come Easter and it went cold, very cold. The biggest shock was waking up on Monday 12th April to snow on the ground. The image of the tree looks like I’ve been a little lazy and reused the one from February. However, I can assure you that it was taken on 12th April 2021. As I was walking the dog in Hargate Forest, the snowflakes were falling huge and relentless, both the dog and myself felt like we were intrepid Arctic explorers who'd forgotten to bring their skis and cold weather supplies. This was not something I was really expecting but Easter does have previous form with regard to the white stuff.
I have been busy sowing seeds of leeks, parsley, sweetcorn, sunflowers and chives. I am waiting for warmer weather before I plant my second early potatoes and spring onions. I have put a cloche in place where I want to sow the spring onions straight into the ground as I am hoping that it will warm the soil a little, well, at least keep some of the Arctic blast out!
I have sown more of the spinach seed that I had left over from last year into individual pots. When I sowed it last year, I put it straight into the ground. However, this time I decided it would be better to transplant it from pots. This was for two reasons. Firstly, I wouldn’t get it bunched together (no matter how careful I was sowing the seed) and secondly, the ground is still very cold. Therefore, I thought it prudent to let it germinate in the greenhouse.
I am trying some beetroot for the first time this year. I have to confess to coming round to the taste of beetroot rather late in life. It has quite a strong earthy taste and not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I tried some in a Polish Restaurant a few years back and suddenly developed a tase for it. You do change as you get older because curry and Football had a similar effect on me too. The seed I am planting is a variety called Boltardy. There are 1500 seeds in the packet but I will sow in batches of 20 over the coming weeks. Obviously, I won't plant all 1500 this year as I would probably end up going off it again. I will keep you regularly updated on progress (even if they all flop - promise).
This brings me on to my glass greenhouse which I do heat during cold Spring nights. It has bubble wrap on the inside to help keep the heat in during winter and spring. Unfortunately, my heater is not at all climate friendly as I have to use smelly and expensive paraffin for fuel. I am not a big fan of paraffin so I am thinking about replacing it with an electrical heater that comes on via a thermostat. This method of heating has several advantages. It is cleaner, easier to control and cheaper to run. Unfortunately, the main disadvantage is the high set-up cost. The electrical supply needs to be safe which means getting a qualified electrician to install it. Also, a hole will have to be drilled through the side of the house for the cable feed and I am a little reluctant to do this. In the end, it all comes down to how long I stay at the house and whether I can recoup my set-up costs. I will have to think long and hard about this.
Well, that’s all for this month. I am hoping for an improvement in the weather during the second half of April, not least for the sake of my wallet because I don’t want to buy more paraffin. However, if the weather does warm up, I won’t get too excited and start planting tender annuals on the allotment or in the garden just yet because, even in this part of England, we still get late frosts well into May.