This week in the garden

It’s time to get sowing our vegetable seeds. The lower four crop vegetable beds are now ready for planting, and we have begun by planting cloves of garlics and parsnips in the ‘roots bed’. This week we will be preparing to sow more root vegetables including leeks, carrots, radishes and turnips.

Carrots can be sown in succession between March and July. Early varieties like Nantes 2 or Amsterdam Forcing are called ‘early’ because they can be sown early, are quick maturing and give you the first crop of the season. Carrots (and parsnips) like to grow in soil that is not stony. Stony soil can cause their roots to branch as they navigate their way around these root obstacles. It may give rise to interesting shapes of carrots and parsnips but it is less fun when you are preparing these vegetables to eat! It is a good idea to sow carrots at three weekly intervals to ensure a steady supply of carrots throughout the summer months. There are many varieties of carrots, some long rooted others short, and some in different colours. The year we will be growing some Cosmic Purple carrots!

When sowing carrots the aim is to sow the seeds thinly because then there will be less thinning out to do later. As the seeds germinate and the young plants grow we will pull out plants that are growing too closely together thereby ensuring that each remaining plant has enough space to produce a good size carrot. This is called “thinning”.  After thinning it is important to firm the soil around the carrot so the opportunist ‘carrot root flies’ doesn’t get a sniff of carrot and head straight for these tasty roots. Apparently carrot fly can detect the scent of carrots from a mile away and the process of thinning the seedlings releases the carrot’s scent. We could try a spot of companion planting here, such as growing garlic, onions, shallots and leeks adjacent to the carrots to defuse that distinctive carrot scent!  Carrot seeds are fairly small so it is quite a skill to sow them thinly enough. Come and enjoy the challenge of testing the steadiness of your hand and sow these seeds!

We will need to weed our vegetable rows regularly because the young vegetable seedlings will grow better without weed competition.

The other main activity for this week is working with willows.

On Sunday 1st April between 11am and 12.30pm there will be a willow weaving workshop showing you how you can make plant supports from willows.  Book here

We also need to replenish our living willow structures in the children natural play kitchen at the entrance to the gardens. Some of the willows in the hedge, the den and archway have died so we will be adding more living willow rods to these structures.

The herb garden is in need of some attention so we will be working in there, weeding and preparing the annual herbs bed for planting.

Now that the growing season has begun, there is the ongoing seed sowing and watering of small plants every day in the upper greenhouses.