While I’ve been busy with the rationing challenge, I haven’t had the chance to tell you what else has been going on in our household lately (besides forcing World War Two crumb fudge on DJ and giving us both bellyache). Now that the weather is warming up (fingers crossed and ignoring tales from my mother of snow in Ireland) and the daffodils are out, we have been seriously gearing up for the growing season.
DJ’s tomato and chilli plants, which we planted halfway through March, are going great guns. He has been tending them with all the watchfulness of a mother hen, talking to them every day and blowing on their leaves. I thought he’d taken leave of his senses (no pun intended) until I saw Toby Buckland on Gardener’s World doing the same thing. Apparently it helps tomato plants which have been grown indoors develop stronger stems by mimicking the wind blowing on them.
While DJ was away for a weekend a couple of weeks’ ago, I had the responsibility of remembering to take the tomato plants in and out of the green house each morning and evening while they are being hardened off. I was a bag of nerves thinking I would forget, leave them in the greenhouse all night and kill them all. But sensibly I left myself a big reminder note by the kettle, knowing that I wouldn’t fail to see it and somehow they survived.
Our broad beans, potatoes and onions are also coming up, as are some French marigolds which DJ planted and will eventually be used to attract aphids away from the tomato plants. Even the parsnips which were heeled in over the winter have joined in the spring fun and are trying to sprout again. Over the Easter weekend I planted some rainbow carrots – which include white, orange and purple varieties – in a large planter and DJ planted some early Nantes carrots in another, called ‘Baby Ideal’. He grew them last year and they were particularly delicious. I also got stuck into sowing some flower seeds for our hanging baskets and pots, including nasturtiums, geraniums, asters and petunias. All the seeds have been purchased in previous years or came free with magazines, so I’m hoping they are still ok. The aster seeds supposedly went off last year, so we’ll have to see whether they come up or not. Last year I unwittingly planted some old geranium seeds and none of them germinated.
Unfortunately the mushroom kit has proved disappointing. DJ harvested one good mushroom a few weeks ago, but the rest have all looked more Fungus the Bogeyman than anything you’d actually want to eat. He thinks it got a bit too hot initially, but is going to try throwing it on the compost heap to see if the spores take there. On the bright side, the new fig tree purchased last year is sprouting and we should get nine figs rather than the two we got last year, which is exciting.
On a different note, Billericay recently held its Greening Campaign public meeting at a local church and, among other people there, yours truly had to give a speech, which was a bit daunting. If you recall, the Greening Campaign is a venture that began in Petersfield in Hampshire and is geared to getting local people to make small changes to their behaviour to improve the environment, save energy and cut costs. Committee members were anxious that as many people attended as possible and we weren’t disappointed. Lots of local residents and organisations came and signed up to a series of small green targets, such as turning the tap off when brushing their teeth or pulling curtains at dusk to retain the heat, which was fantastic.
There was also a lot of enthusiasm for our Billericay ‘Green Day’, happening in June, when local residents and societies will get together to have fun and make presentations on how they have been saving energy in their homes and businesses. There will also be organisations on hand to give advice on ways to go green and cut costs. I’m looking forward to it and impressed that so many people in our town are keen to make such a positive contribution. Whatever outsiders might say about Essex folk, we are not afraid of hard graft or short of enthusiasm for new ideas, which is what I love about my county.
Are you a keen gardener? How is your vegetable or flower garden doing now that spring is finally here? What are you growing this year? Leave a message and let me know.
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