Sunflower Club

We awoke to a light dusting of snow this morning. I think it’s a mark of age that my first thought on seeing the white stuff was to wonder how my seedlings in the greenhouse are doing (the answer is that they seem fine).

This is typical April weather, by turns cold, hot, wet, dry, blowy and still. I always think that spring-time seed sowing is a gesture of defiance in the face of wintery weather; since becoming an allotmenter I’ve realised that there’s a heck of a lot more winter in this country than there is summer. But the days are undeniably warmer now than they were a month ago – digging the veg patch today I had to strip off to shirt sleeves – and the sun stays up until well after 8pm. The greenhouse has been reading temperatures in the 30s. So I have brazenly decided to ignore the snow and try a little direct sowing of seed – in go carrots, parsnip, chard, spinach and lettuce into freshly prepared beds, covered with fleece to keep them cosy. If they germinate, wonderful, and if not, I’ll try again in a few weeks.

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The lettuce seedlings have perked up and I’ve direct sown more lettuce, chard and spinach alongside

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The other veg plot has been dug, first seeds sown and the soil – seeded or not – covered with fleece to encourage warmth

Meanwhile the greenhouse is so chocka that I’m having to keep seed trays on the floor. Today the tomato and flower seedlings were joined by two trays of sunflowers, 24 pots in total. My friend Annabel has challenged a group of her chums to join Sunflower Club (sorry – I think the official name is #sunflowerclub) where we have been given the same seeds to be planted on the same day, then the person with the tallest flower come summer wins. If the last two summers of sunflower success are anything to go by, we’ll do OK.

Sunflower seeds all ready to go

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24 sunflowers potted up and colour-coded

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The greenhouse is now so full that I’m having to leave trays on the floor

It’s the time for tidying up. I finally got around to mulching the raspberries and the grass is crying out to be strimmed before it takes over the world.

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Raspberries have been mulched

The next jobs – sort out the hopolisk, get the bean and sweetpea sticks up and plant the potatoes. Don’t know about #sunflowerclub, it’s more like #knackered.

Sowed indoors: sunflowers
Sowed direct: carrot ‘nantes’, ‘harlequin’ and ‘paris’, parsnip ‘tender and true’, lettuce ‘salad bowl’, chard ‘silver’, beetroot ‘chioggia’ and ‘bolt hardy’, spinach ‘perpetual’ and ‘medania’, kale ‘rouge di russie’, broad beans ‘stereo’
Hardening off: autumn-planted sweet peas
Also: Prepared right-hand vegetable bed, fleeced the brassica bed to warm the soil, mulched raspberries

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