After the muted garden tones of winter Spring is showing us what colour is all about. From delicate pinks and hues of creams and yellows, to bright acid orange-reds all off-set with a bright blue sky. The garden year has started with a KERPOW and a WHAM-BAM in real Technicolor.
I’ve been able to get out and about to enjoy some of the sunny blue sky days, principally preparing the ground for the years coming crops. It’s busy, busy, busy.
The soil is dry, the top inch or two is starting to crack and open up. A worrying sign of lack of rain. I must order some bales of straw to help mulch and keep what moisture there is in the ground where it should be.
I normally plant potatoes around Good Friday, a very traditional date. There are various reasons, more likely conjectures, for why this is a common date it mainly seems that it was when people literally had a day off and so could manage the soil preparation and planting. It’s also around the time when the last heavy killer frosts are receding so the likelihood of the frosts burning the tender new shoots of the potatoes is less likely. Not very romantic but oh so practical.
The other “theory” I’ve heard muted many a time is to plant the potatoes when the ground is warm. But how do you know when it’s warm enough? Well you could go out and buy a soil thermometer, but what dd folk of yore do without such garden gadgets? They sat on the ground and not just any old how but supposedly with their pants down. Fancy testing the soil with your bare behind?
Me neither – so I’ll just guess instead :)
I’m away for Easter so planting day has arrived a week early. I won’ t do a show and tell with the potatoes – they are all wrinkly and shrivelled and frankly not very photogenic. I’ll pop them in the ground with a few inches of soil on top and wait for the first green shoots to emerge and then it will be a combination of earthing up and covering up to stop the light getting to the developing potatoes.
Roll on summer for the taste of homegrown new potatoes, you know the ones I mean, the ones that almost melt in your mouth, maybe with some butter and a sprinkling of chives or mint.
Instead of un-photogenic potatoes I’ll share some colourful photos of flowers that I took today – Tulips and Hellebores and the flowers on the Magnolia tree. The tree is at it’s peak and the white and pink of the flowers almost shimmer against a bright blue sky. The scent from the Magnolia is heady and perfumed, almost sweet.
The show put on by the Magnolia won’t last long, soon the leaves will be collecting on the ground, waiting for me to clear them up and behind them there will be the fresh acid-green shoots of leaves. It provides a canopy of green for us in the summer, somewhere to shelter from the rays.
So here’s a burst of sunshine for us all.