Last year the strawberries were ravaged by impatient rabbits who ate all the flowers so I've made sure that they're securely covered this year. In previous years I've used eco aerated polythene which wasn't quite as effective as I'd hoped - strong winds kept ripping it from the clips which defeated the object somewhat. So it's back to netting again now. I've only got one variety at the moment, Mara des Bois, perpetual strawberries which are beautifully flavoured and fragrant and they crop a couple of times throughout the summer.
Very excited about the pear trees as it's the first time that they've ever shown any signs of producing fruit! Sadly the same can't be said for the plums. The new tree, jubilee, which I planted last year is struggling after the cold winter and outwardly there isn't much sign of life. The main stem seems to still be alive so fingers crossed it will be ok. The other tree, opal, had a bumper crop a couple of years ago but nothing much since. I think my pruning may have contributed to the lack of fruit. It's a fan trained tree which I confidently attack prune each year, armed with my secateurs and pruning guide. The trouble is though, what makes perfect sense when I look at the book, makes absolutely no sense at all when I look at the tree!
It's been a busy planting month and as you can see from the top picture, the shredder has been out and now about a third of the paths are covered in a thick mulch. Still a way to go though ...
The courgettes, pumpkins, squashes, sweet corn, onions, french beans, borlotti beans and beetroot are all safely planted into their beds. Each plant is surrounded with a scattering of organic slug pellets and the beds securely covered with netting or enviromesh to protect them from Peter and his hungry family!
(In case you were wondering, the plant in the middle left photo, after the courgettes, is a jerusalem artichoke - more about them later in the year).
I've been sowing seeds direct into the ground too this month. This year I will not forget about the radishes that I've sown with the parsnip seeds - last year, I have no idea why, but after I'd checked that the parsnips had germinated, I left that bed alone and the radishes took over, literally!
Seeds sown direct:
Swede - Marian
Parsnips - Tender & True & Countess
Radishes - French Breakfast
Carrots - Early Nantes 2
Herbs - Dill & Coriander
Seeds sown in greenhouse:
Brussel Sprouts - Brest F1
French Beans - Slenderette & Aiguillon
Beans - Borlotti
Kale - Red & Nero di Toscana
Chard - Bright Lights & White Silver
Purple Sprouting Broccoli - Rudolph, Early & White
Red Cabbage - Fuego
Lettuce - Various Mixed Leaves
Herbs - Basil, Coriander & Dill
I've ordered some lavender plugs from Lavender World so that I can plant a row of lavender in front of the plum trees, just behind where Rusty is lying (if you've lost Barney, he's not far away, tethered to one of the fruit tree supports). The plan is, it will edge the path and keep the mulch in the right place and also the pollen will hopefully attract lots of bees and other pollinators to the garden. If you want to know what to plant to encourage bees check out this RHS Plants for Pollinators Guide. I've just had a quick look and strangely, they've only listed the intermedia variety of lavender not the more common angustifolia varieties which is what the Hidcote is that I've ordered - not to worry, I'm sure the bees won't mind that it doesn't come with an RHS sticker! Seriously though, saving our bees is important so have a look at the RHS Plants for Pollinators website. Sarah Raven is involved with the campaign and she's also got a tv programme coming out soon called Bees, Butterflies and Blooms.