What a difference a month makes in the garden, especially in the spring! Even when the spring is as cold as this year. By now all our beds have been sown or planted with vegetables that are slowly filling in the space. I have delayed planting out my tomatoes and courgette beyond the supposedly safe mark of mid-May.
And I was very glad I did since we got a frost on the 15th! But now the tomatoes have been planted (I am growing ‘Losetto’ and ‘Ferline’ this year, both partially blight-tolerant) and are doing okay, despite the low temperatures. This year I tried planting them through a new-to-me bio-degradable mulch made from grains.
I’m curious how the mulch will perform and am hoping its dark colour will help to conserve heat. Elsewhere in the garden I used cocoa shells which make an excellent mulch that deters slugs, conserves moisture and acts as a good fertilizer. Since the cocoa beans are shelled after they arrive here in the Netherlands (Amsterdam is the biggest “chocolate-port” in Europe), I consider it local enough and a sensible way of using a waste product.
A couple of weeks ago we put up the fruit cages to prevent birds from taking all our berries when they start ripening. Every cage covers two bushes and they are very easy to build (we timed ourselves and it only takes 20 minutes). I bought one more fruit cage this year, since we only had two cages and six bushes and therefore every year we’d have to choose which berries would be protected and which would be lost to us.
Every year I try something new and this year I am growing some interesting tubers: oca (Oxalis tuberosa), mashua (Tropaolum tuberosum) and yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius). I got a few tubers from fellow gardeners who were very enthusiastic about the yacon especially, so I hope we’ll get a decent harvest too.
Our fruit trees have flowered and set fruit, though it seems that last year’s bumper harvest has taken its toll on the Mirabelle and one of our apples and this year’s harvest will therefore probably be less plentiful. Even though we had far too little rain so far this year, our edible forest garden is thriving, without any irrigation. Perennial plants are just so much easier to grow!
In the community garden, we are repeating the polyculture from last year ( I wrote an article about this in the last Permaculture Magazine) because it was so popular both for its high yield and for its aesthetic qualities.
We have been harvesting lots of salad greens, herbs and rhubarb, but there should be a lot more in the next month.
As I am close to the deadline for submitting my manuscript, this month is going to be crazy busy work-wise. But I hope I will find some time for gardening too!