After a few false dawns Spring is really here.
In mid Wales the time when the blackthorn blossom appears is called ‘the blackthorn winter’. The blossom will later produce the sloes for winter preserves. This time, in late March, is often a treacherous one, giving cold temperatures and snowfall; so it was this year. However, as the clocks went back, so the season seems to have turned in earnest.
Our garden at Tyrannell is ablaze with blossom and daffodils are everywhere. Lambing is in full swing and I am home for the Easter holiday, so it is time to get to grips with the potager. This is peak sowing time in the greenhouse and outside so I am busy for hours at a time.
First job: prick out the little seedlings of tomato, pepper, aubergine and celery sown in late January in the propagator. They now need individual pots.
Next: complete the sowing of beans, courgettes, cucumbers, pumpkins and herbs together with a continuing succession of sugar snap peas.
Finally, in the greenhouse, I check on the brassicas. You will remember how pleased I have been with my purple sprouting broccoli, which continues to sprout enthusiastically, and I am delighted that the seedlings need to be moved to a pot while the other varieties can stay in their root trainers for now.
Out in the raised beds I set some sugar snap pea plants which I grew inside and also sow some, and podding peas too, straight into the ground. I plant early and second early potatoes, holding back on the main crop for now. Every time I plant a bed with these space hungry crops I sow a row of quicker-growing, less demanding seeds such as lettuces, radishes and short carrots hoping to catch a quick harvest before the potatoes cover the entire surface with leafy haulms or the peas shade out the soil below.
Ivor lays in three new boxes in the squash row and I rake the surface smooth and run a row each of rocket, oriental spinach and Italian radish to use the space until May when the tender cucurbits come out.
Returning to the house I see some sheep and lambs playing near the haha and an especially lovely stand of daffodils. I believe these to be ‘Sir Watkin’ – the first variety developed from the native Welsh daffodil. Like its parent, this has a paler ‘collar’ around the yellow trumpet but it is a little larger and half as tall again, so pretty and fragile -looking, but able to withstand cold and wind.
Behind them I see my patch of ramsons – wild garlic – which I sowed from some seed saved by my friend Carole Jenkyns of Glynhir. I have some in the potager too but it seems that they thrive best beneath the shade of the copper beech tree. I take some of the larger leaves to make a sandwich for lunch. This is a treat that you cannot buy in any supermarket, celebrated chefs pay foragers to collect it for them, but it is so easy to establish and is forever there, forever free.