May – the time of year when days start early. The sun’s up and the dawn chorus is loud well before the alarm clock goes off. And that dawn chorus really is loud. Blackbirds, chaffinches and a very persistent chiffchaff are all singing at full volume. The longer, warmer days have seen the arrival of swallows and cuckoos, back from their winter trips to more southerly regions. And the apple blossom has started to open… just as the weather is forecast to get colder again. I’m hoping that it will still be warm enough for plenty of bee activity to pollinate the flowers and ensure at least a few apples to pick at the end of the summer.
But I shouldn’t be talking about the end of the summer yet. Spring has barely begun. With the warm weather encouraging new growth, we’re starting to add more home grown leaves to bowls of salads. There’s been parsley all winter, and now there are fresh mint, tarragon, chive, rocket and spinach leaves too. I’ve been making regular sowings of salad leaf mixtures, as well as individual lettuces and herbs, to keep the harvests coming. There are some pea tips not far off being ready to pick too – then we can decide whether to use them in a salad, risotto or toss them with a bowl of pasta.
The home sown salad seedlings have been joined by a delivery of incredibly healthy looking small plants from Sarah Raven. Sent as part of a blogging challenge, I’m growing the plants on and am going to be creating a fabulous side salad to partner a Higgidy pie later in the month. I must admit to showering these plants with extra special care and attention, because I need to make sure there are plenty of lush and tasty leaves to work with. The seedlings are planted in a wooden container close to the kitchen door so that I can keep an eye on them, make regular inspections for any slugs lurking in the area, and remember to water them.
The greenhouse is getting to be very full, as well as being very warm on good sunny days. There’s a morning visit to open the door and move all the plants that need hardening off to a space just outside. The evening visit sees the plants moved back into the shelter of the greenhouse and a quick check that everything’s ok before the door is closed again. The oca that was sent to me by Emma through the Seedy Penpals swap has been potted up and is growing well. Oca is an oxalis, related to the creeping woodsorrel that I pull out of the gravel where it grows as a weed, and the leaves have the typical clover-like appearance. It needs protection from frost, so for now it’s making the daily trip to the great outdoors and spending nights tucked up back under glass among the tomatoes and cucumbers.
Out in the veggie patch, we’ve harvested the last of the leeks and chicory to make space for fresh sowings of carrots and beetroot. The kale should really be pulled up too. The plants now have tall stems topped with bright yellow flowers and are well passed the productive stage. But the flowers are attracting insects and, as they are right next to the strawberry bed, I’ve left them. The strawberry plants might bear more discrete flowers, but they too are relying on insect visitors for pollination… and pollination means strawberries, so anything that attracts more bees to the area is good.
Planning ahead for the rest of the month, I’m going to be sowing more French and borlotti beans, potting on the chillies and planting the tomatoes into big, deep pots, and as always, there’s so much weeding to do…
This is my Garden Share Collective post for May. Hop over to Lizzie’s blog for a catch up with all the other gardens in the collective. Lizzie is currently gardening and blogging with a very beautiful newborn daughter in her arms… congratulations Lizzie, hope you and the baby are doing really well.