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No April Showers

April 29, 2011

Tomorrow will see the last day of April, and it’s been one of the driest Aprils on record, here on the south coast of Ireland. I’ve been spending most of my evenings after work, walking around with watering cans and a hose pipe. The veg patch, flower pots and young trees have all been demanding some watering. The water but that I installed last month, to provide a source of soft water for my greenhouse plants, is almost empty.

On the plus side, the dry, warm weather has brought everything on tremendously. In the greenhouse, all my tomato and pepper plants have now in their grow bags; the Gardeners Delight, Mexican Midget, and Arctic Circle tomatoes are all doing particularly well. I found last year that Fawort were a bit of a ‘fussy’ tomato variety – and they are proving to be again.

In the veg patch, the parsnips that haven’t been nibbled by slugs, are doing well, and my first sowing of spring onions have their heads up. Last weekend I planted out the onion seedlings that I’ve had on the go since February, plus my first batch of ‘Sanguina’ beetroot seedlings.

This weekend I will be sowing:
• Cucumbers (in pots)
• Turnips (in modules)
• Parsnips (second sowing in toilet rolls to replace some eaten by slugs)
• Beetroot (in fibre pots; second sowing)

My first and second early potatoes are now fully earthed up and growing well. My maincrop spuds made their first appearance last week, and are being earthed up as they grow. My over-wintering onions and garlic are looking healthy too – although they are needing regular watering to bring them on. My last Winter Roscoff cauliflower is almost ready for harvest too – once it’s picked, that bed will be dug over, a load of my home made compost added, and my leek seedlings (now hardening off) planted.

All my fruit trees seem to be taking off this year. The apple, pear, plum and damson trees are flying. The pear trees, planted at the start of 2010, have four inches of new growth on them already. This will be the fourth year for my collection of native Irish apple trees so it’s about time they started to shift – and they too seem to like this warmer than usual spring.

The fuscia hedge that I planted two-and-a-half years ago seems to have been hammered by the severe winter -most of ithas failed to bud this spring. I’m leaving it in for the time being, and watering regularlly – in the hope that it may recover from the roots. I’m not too hopeful though.

On the chicken front, I lost one of my Red Sussex hens to a respiratory infection, a couple of weeks ago. However I have two new Light Sussex chicks (2 hatched from 4 eggs incubated) which are now nearly three weeks old – I’m hoping for at least one hen out of the two – any cockerels will be for the cooking pot. I have four Red Sussex eggs in my small incubator now – I candled them last night, and they all look to be doing well.

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