According to The Internet, April 1st has not always been an occasion for newspaper editors to indulge in flights of fancy about Brexit emojis, Chocolate Whoppers™ (which sounds like it could become a real thing) or avocado Coke™ (a story to which I cannot, unfortunately, find a stable link). Though many origins for the April Fool’s tradition are proposed, the most widely known is the old French custom of celebrating the New Year in early spring, with a week long celebration ending on April 1st. It is true that activity on this site has been somewhat non-existent of late, so in the spirit of the “season”, now seems a good time to extend my not-at-all-late New Years’ wishes, and outline my gardening resolutions for the year ahead!
Resolution 1 — Don’t dig up too much too soon.
So far, so good on this one! This is mostly because work has been silly busy. We’ve recently had one paper published and then quickly submitted a second. This second paper has been sent out for peer review and we are waiting for feedback. Hopefully it won’t be too savage. Anyone who thinks that scientific peer review involves a pat on the back from friends before publication has never been subjected to peer review! We probably won’t hear back for a few weeks, giving us a much-welcomed break.
Anyways, being busy at work has indeed helped me to stick to Resolution 1. Some digging was started a few weeks ago, but then I felt very bad to have disturbed a couple of hibernating bees. It isn’t likely that they survived the unseasonably cold weather. Since then I have ignored the patches in the back that need a good tidying, and the area around the frog pond remains a disgrace! The pond was meant to be a managed wildlife area with pretty flowers for the bees, non-spiky blackberries, and graceful bronze fennels and angelica in the background. The reality is various weeds running amok, spiky blackberries fighting a loosing battle with the nettles and feral comfrey everywhere. I would like to clean it up, but it seems that the froggies have been busy of late! It would be a shame to disturb them…
Resolution 2 — Reduce plastic consumption.
Here is another area that has been working well so far, but this is soon to go pear-shaped. I have been dutifully saving loo roll and paper towel tubes at home, but this is not enough. Because they have a fancy plastic-based loo roll system at work, I’ve been denied a potentially rich source of pea, corn and bean pots. I’ve been shamelessly making off with loo roll inners from public conveniences all over London, but have only secured enough for the peas and corn. The beans will have to go in plastic. However, I do wash and reuse a lot of plastic. Perhaps this is going better than it seems.
Resolution 3 — Stop sowing way more plants than needed.
I am beginning to see the foolishness of considering April 1st as the start of the gardening year. If there was any chance of keeping this resolution, I should have been thinking about this in February when the peppers and aubergines were sown. My brassica sowing felt restrained
at the time, but now this seems mistaken. A third chance for redemption was missed in March with the tomatoes. I never intend to do too many, but the thought of “what if they all die” always creeps in and then I put in twice as many seeds as there is space for. As per usual, nearly everything came up with the Padron peppers being the only sad exception. I’ve always managed to find a home for the extras, so hopefully I can find someone to take in the spares.
Today I did brave the rather dull and dreary start to the “New Year.” My first cloche tunnel was planted up with some lettuces and beetroot seedlings. If the forecast is to be believed, brighter and warmer weather is just around the corner. Hopefully this planting will seem clever and not at all optimistic in the week to come. In the middle picture, do note the abundance of leftover seedlings after planting, in direct violation of Resolution 3. Also note that I squeezed a row of
carrots in the middle, violating Resolution 4 — Don’t cram too many plants into too small a space! In anticipation of breaking Resolution 5 — Build proper structures to protect your plants from pests — I went for Flyaway F1 (which are resistant to carrot root fly) instead of my preferred Early Nantes.
In the greenhouse spinach seedlings were tucked in underneath the planting bench. Hard to believe, but in six weeks time the plan is to be planting up this area with tomatoes. Spring does need to get a move on, as it’s supposedly much closer than French peasants of old might have you think!