Well, it did calm down eventually, even if we did spend many nights on frost alert and had to deal with a couple of real corkers. I had minus four in a greenhouse one clear night. As a kid, I would walk the site after dark with my Dad, checking doors and windows were shut, tweaking boilers and sniffing the air. He would make a judgement on the weather and irrespective of the Met Office prediction would tailor the site protection as he thought appropriate and he was usually right. I still follow his ritual. Anyway, in theory we are clear of the cold and the gate is open for us to get on and plant what we will, so if you haven’t then get cracking. The World is your oyster and there are plenty of goodies everywhere. You can safely put tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as squash, aubergines and peppers outside. Whilst there is no getting away from the fact that these things do better under glass, pick a good bright spot and you will still be rewarded. You can still set out sweet corn and push in a few French beans. Compact varieties like The Prince will come through quickly and will produce late into the summer. You can also be repeat planting all of the salad stuff too.
Obviously there is plenty of bedding about and this year there is a big range of new material. It is worth shopping about and whilst our friends at the supermarket continue to ply bread and butter, many garden centres have some interesting choices. Have a look at Bidens for example, once a buttercup yellow, vigorous basket plant, it is now offered in a range of colours and more compact form. Mini petunias are another show stopper with colours that couldn’t be mixed on any other palette than natures own. Then there are delightful double begonia semperflorens, but enough, there is a lot to see, so if you need there’s great stuff to be had.
On around the garden, the roses are budding well, but there is some early evidence of Black Spot , strike now if you see it and pick off infected leaves and bin them before the condition takes a hold.
If mildew arrives in the garden and the humidity suggests it might then spray quickly if you want leaves to look good. Mildew will appear on many plants, but Honeysuckle and Roses are very prone.
And finally, take a tip from my old man, walk the site, sniff the air, smile and enjoy.