End of Month View – April 2011

Allium, Euphorbia and japanese anemone

Whow, the weather this April has been crazy.  It has been as warm as we would expect in the Summer and we have had no rain in West Sussex for weeks on end.   Both my water butts are empty, actually that is not quite true, we must have had a short shower last night, because the slim butt by my back door was about 2/3rds full this morning.  This was great, but not enough, we need a good few days of solid rain to replenish the water levels and refill our water butts.

Alan Titchmarsh says that he doesn’t water his established perennials, encouraging them to dig deep with their roots and uses a mulch to seal in the moisture.   I can understand that to a point, if you don’t give the soil a really good soaking, the roots will stay just below the surface where the soil is wet and this can lead to weak plants.   However, it is very disconcerting to see treasured plants wilting in the heat.  My water is metered and I am very conscious, when filling my watering can from the tap, that I am paying for every drop of water I am pouring on my plants.  Also plants do not like tap water, especially ours as it is so hard.   We must have some rain soon, the water reservoirs are too low for this time of the year and if this continues we will be heading towards a water shortage.

North facing flower bed April 2011

The North facing border is lush and filling out nicely

My Aquilegia are in bloom a little early,however, when I look back to last year, the photos I took were mid-May.  They have self-seeded all over the garden, but still have come out in different colours and its exciting to watch which ones will stay true from year to year.  I have given up naming them, they are all just Aquilegia to me.   The greenfly are having a field day though and I am having to spray them with soapy water, not that it is making much difference.

My raised bed is flourishing and I have already started cutting the baby spinach leaves for salads.  The first radishes are nearly ready to pull.

My potato bag has now had two layers of chitted Duke of Yorks and all I have to do is wait for them to flower and I should be rewarded with fresh potatoes from the garden.  Exciting because I have never grown my own potatoes before.

The pak choi is growing well.  This is another vegetable  I have never grown before.  I think I have not thinned them out enough, from my recollection of seeing pak choi in the shops it is quite bulky, probably to the thickness of  celery.   I read that they don’t like their roots disturbed but I had sown far too many seeds and it was difficult to thin them out in situ, so I pulled them all up and replanted the little plants.  I watched them with trepidation for a few days as they went very floppy and I thought I was going to have to go back to square one.  They have picked up  fortunately and are looking very healthy.  I still zip the cover to the raised bed closed every night, the temperature really drops and there is always the fear of a sudden grown frost, despite the hot days.

Everything shot up in the heat and the sun, but now, because of the lack of rain it is all slowing down a bit. I do hope we don’t have a really cold May which will set everything back.

The strawberry plant is beginning to flower and my beautiful pink tissue paper like poppy is just in bud.  Again it is early and I am having a little panic as I can only see one bud.  This poppy is now about 5 year old and generally throws up six to eight flowers.  I hope that it does the same again this year.

Finally, my Gerbera is appearing again this year.   Several years ago I went to the Hampton Court Show on the last Sunday.  It is always, in my opinion, the best day to go as all the plants are sold off at about 4:00pm and some great bargains are to be had.  I bought this Gerbera because it produces the brightest pink flower you can imagine and was a good sized large plant for only £5.   Looking at it, I think I need to re-pot it because it is growing in one corner only, so that is my next job.  My lovely white Agapanthus is in the background.

So there we are, my EMOV for April.   I am looking forward to EMOV May to show photos of plants in full flower.   Thank you Helen from Patient Gardener for starting off this meme.

Gerbera

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22 thoughts on “End of Month View – April 2011

  1. Goodness those raised beds are paying off, your veg are way ahead of mine.
    I have been giving the garden a really good soak once a week in the evening but I am only watering those plants that are recently planted – unfortunately as I have been reorganising the garden there are quite a few plants that need watering plus the pots on the patio waiting to be planted in the new border

    Thanks for joining in again

    • Thank you Helen. I think the raised beds have done so well is because I have a plastic cover for them so they are effectively in a greenhouse atmosphere, although I remove it during the day.

  2. Hi Ronnie, your garden is looking wonderfully lush despite the dry weather. I tend to thin Pak Choi by picking the young leaves of every other plant to eat in salads and only allow the others to grow big – sometimes I hunger for the young leaves so much I never get any big plants at all!! Aquilegias are a little like hellebores, aren’t they, in their ability to throw up surprising offspring. I found a pale pink one with lime green leaves out the front today. Congrats on the healthy raised bed, it seems to be working really well.

  3. I have my fingers crossed for rain too. I’m just across the border in Hampshire and it’s just as dry. I think we did get a bit while we were away, but as you say no where near enough. I continue to keep my fingers crossed. Not too much though just enough!

    • Thank you. It is the only Allium I have, and I want to get more. I have always promised myself I would have them in the garden, but such a pity they are over before the summer.

    • We had a bit of rain last night, enough to fill the water butt but the soil looks dry again this morning. So hoping we don’t pay for this by having a wet summer – think positive!

  4. you are well ahead Ronnie, it’s been dry here too though the peaty soil does hold some water and AT’s advice is right my uncle told me this years ago, he (my uncle) said to cut the bottom off a plastic bottle and when you plant put the bottle without lid up-side-down beside the plant so the top of the bottle is down by the roots then water by filling the bottle so the water goes straight to the roots, I hope that makes sense, my uncle was a market gardener in Kent and East Sussex, glad you got some rain, Frances

    • Hi Frances – what a splendid idea. I will be digging plastic bottles out of my recycling bin and putting them in the garden. Thank you!

      R

      • you’re welcome, I haven’t felt the need to do it here but my Dad started growing veggies when he was retired, his garden was in north surrey, clay and chalk and he said it helped alot, it still encourages the roots to go down for water, Frances

  5. Your garden looks lovely! We, too, have been in a period of drought, and it’s always so stressful – for the plants and the gardener! I hope you get some rain soon.

    • Thank you for your kind comments. Being without rain is becoming frustrating. The weathermen tantilise us with mention of possible showers but nothing happens. It will come soon enough and then we will complain we can’t get out into the garden. :-))

  6. Your veg is doing well! I grew pak choi the first year I had an allotment and it did very well – after that its never grown for me again, I must try again. Irrigation is always a problem, especially here in Italy where usually there is no rain at all for 3, sometimes 4 months in summer. I only water where absolutely necessary and I select plants based on their water requirements. I water when plants are stressed but usually wait jsut an extra day to force them to try for water deeper down. Sometimes it is surprising just how tolerant of drought they do become.

    • Hello, welcome to my blog. Drought is becoming a problem with us at the moment, we had almost no rain at all throughout the whole of April – so much for April showers. I think perhaps plants to adapt to conditions.

      I hope you visit my blog again. Thanks R

  7. I’m very envious of your spinach (found you through the EOMV – what a great idea that is) and have every intention of going out and threatening my veg immediately!

    • Thank you for your kind comments, my spinach will be very happy! I can’t believe myself how well it is all doing. A lot of it is to do with the fact I have a little plastic greenhouse type cover for my raised bed which I open during the day and close at night so the veg are in a semi-open environment. It seems to be paying dividends.

      I do hope you visit my blog again. Ronnie

  8. I hope you get some rain soon. We had a very dry spring last spring and I lost a lot of young plants as a result. Your garden looks lovely in spite of the dry conditions!

  9. Aquilegias are a favourite with me too and their self seeding produces surprises each year some more welcome than others. Desperately dry here in north west England Ronnie which is most unusual. I am only watering newly planted stuff and plants in pots but have noticed that some plants are not putting on as much growth as usual. What a funny old few months it has been weather wise :(

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