First of all there is the mystery of ‘hardening off’ to un-mystify. Some of your seedlings sown last month may already have 1 or 2 pairs of proper leaves. These will soon be ready to plant out after hardening off – this is the bit where you gradually get them used to living outside (with wind, rain and temperature changes) and you need to do it gradually over 7-14 days. Your little seedlings may have been on a window sill or in a greenhouse so they have lovely soft stems and leaves. Choose if you can a mild calm day to pop them outside for a bit before tucking them back into shelter overnight. Gradually extend the time they spend outside but if the forecast turns horrible (heavy rain, strong winds or very cold) don’t worry about leaving them inside as it won’t undo all your work just get them back outdoors as the weather permits. By the end of the time the stems and leaves will have developed more cellulose (hardening them) and should be happy to be planted but they may still need a bit of protection – particularly if the weather turns cold with sharp frosts or snow forecast so do keep an eye on the weather.
And while you are keeping an eye on the weather, hardening off seedlings and planting more seeds make some time to enjoy some-one else’s hard work… it is time to go garden visiting. It really is an excellent way to harvest ideas to try out yourself.
So last week we went to Rosemoor (the RHS garden in North Devon). SO what sort of things did we notice? Well the changes being made – redesign and new plantings reminded us that we don’t need to keep the garden fixed forever (one of our beds looks tired and is getting overgrown…perhaps we could do something a bit more radical than just pruning…!). The veg garden was fairly bare – almost no overwintering veg was left, all tidied away, and the onions were only just going in so we don’t need to worry about being ‘late’ with anything. The leaf beet (swiss chard) and KohlRrabi looked delicious in the sunshine so I got quite hungry! I took a really good look at the coldframes and how they stopped them blowing open (a large nail, I kid you not). It was also nice to see that it isn’t just our garden that has weeds! And it was nice that there were so many places to sit down and enjoy the garden …mmm I think we need another seat in the veg patch. We loved the community allotment area and will definitely be back later in the year to see how it is developing. The potager reminded us how it is possible to make a veg garden look beautiful and ornamental and make the most of more limited space. Finally wefound two areas that felt particularly peaceful and unfussy e, where the emphasis was on leaf shape, form and colour and we could have spent many happy hours in the Winter Garden and the Foliage Garden… now what shall we do with that tired bed…
If Rosemoor is too far just take a look in your local ‘yellow book’ for garden open days in your area.