Roots and shoots

Alas the sweetpeas that I started a few weeks back didn’t last long. Balanced on the windowsill that overlooks the bird-feeders, the cat decided the seed tray impeded her view…and on the floor it went.

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Aftermath of Gertrude the Destroyer

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Let’s start again

So I started all over again and once again we have sweetpeas…

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Two weeks later, we have sweetpeas…

The tomatoes have germinated now, though in truth it’s a little too cold for them and they’ve taken their time. It’s far too chilly still for them to go to the greenhouse, so they’ll have to stay in the flat a little longer. Quite unlike the broad beans, which are boisterous in their will to live. Already a few inches tall, this week they will be sent to the allotment where they can hang out under glass for a few more weeks before being planted out.

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Tomatoes are off, if a little weedy

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Broad beans are ready for the greenhouse

The greenhouse is fine for keeping the wind off young plants, but it’s hardly warm. For the past few weeks we’ve woken up to a serious frost, meaning that life under glass must get to or around zero celsius overnight – but then the daytime sunshine can send the temperature rocketing. The overwintered sweetpeas have bounced back from their recent drought (when I didn’t get around to visiting and watering) and I’ve pinched the tops out to encourage side shoots. The lettuce, meanwhile, is verdant and lush.

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Overwintered sweetpeas

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Early lettuce doing well

Outside, it’s still winter. No sign of life yet, and the slugs have even taken to nibbling the old sorrel plants – they ignored them all last summer, so times must be desperate. I plucked a few sprout tops and shards of purple sprouting before moving over to the parsnips, the stalwart of the winter garden.

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PSB and sprout tops

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Whopper parsnip!

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I soon had a full bucket of snips

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This little critter didn’t make it through the winter

The light levels are much improved now but it’s cold, so cold, and the soil is wet and claggy: pulling those parsnips left my fingers caked in mud and numb with chill. It will be a few weeks before we can plant outside, though I’m reminded that it’s the month for allotment bonfires and tidying up. Like the tomatoes though, I’d much rather be indoors for a little while longer.

Harvest: PSB, sprout tops, parsnips, rosemary

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