Sunday 29 May 2022

Gardening with a Dodgy Knee #3

My first foray into gardening this year was back in February. We’d had the cooker moved, new splash backs and a cooker hood installed and some painting and decorating done to spruce up the kitchen. That occupied us until the weather opened up.

On February 11 I put spent indoor hyacinths in the greenhouse which had had had the frost stat on for 2 months. It felt warm inside and all was doing well in there. The sweet peas were growing and the geraniums had overwintered well in the just-above-freezing temperatures.

As it was likely we’d still get a few days or nights of frost I planted the certified garlic bulbs in a small raised bed and a few more in the veggie plot in pre-prepped soil. The soil was workable - which shows we’d had a mild winter - and it was just like planting onion sets except that garlic is supposed to need frost to help them develop. Hence the need to get them in the ground without delay. (To keep the birds off I covered over the rows of planted garlic with fleece - so no hungry beaks could pluck at them.)

The next day the weather was still open allowing me to do some cutting back of old growth and the greenhouse was up to 50 deg F. I pinched out the overwintering sweet peas for bushier growth. And it was light outside until about 6 pm. Although it was still only mid February the day had the feel of shifting out of winter into almost early spring. 

A week later I’d created enough dead growth clippings to fill the garden waste bin. Then a few days after that I couldn’t do any gardening:  we were in the thrall of Storm Eunice which created turbulent winds. We were lucky not to have anything too wild here in the south west of England. And for the first winter in years no fence panels had blown down. But as well as the terrific winds it was very wet out. 

On February 24th the truly saddening news that Russia had invaded Ukraine was across all news media. February 24th. I will never forget the date. All I had to think about was sowing my leek seeds. Others were sheltering from bomb blasts or escaping to the West with babies, one bag and a dog - to a very uncertain future.

As a distraction from this disturbing news I bought pink and yellow primulas at our local farm shop and, as they were destined for the beds in our front garden, it didn’t affect my dodgy knee. I plant them at the height of the steps… going down. So it causes very little bending. It was a beautiful sunny day - by contrast snow was on the ground in Ukraine - and I got up the last of the winter leaves. Not a creative job. It makes my back ache but there are fewer drifts of leaves now we’ve had two deciduous trees cut back. 

By the last day of February pretty pink and blue pulmonaria were growing in ‘mum’s garden’. Crocuses were looking good at the front of the house along with the miniature daffodils. The patio tubs were full of white cyclamen and they needed very little tending but my miniature irises were doing very little. I would have thought they should have been displaying their violet and yellow petals. Yet they had the growing habit of leeks.

Were they leeks?

Had I got my planting arse over tit? Only time would tell. But given the plight of the Ukrainians it was nothing to be bothered about.In the scheme of things.

And on March 1 we officially entered a new season. Winter was behind us. 

Until next time. 

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