Gardening Blog – Tips from the Top

HH Hellebore

It’s time to start sowing.  If the very idea brings panic rather than pleasure into your heart, come along to Greencroft at 10.00 am this Saturday, 12th March for a Seeds and Sowing Workshop.  Andrew Hawkins, a previous Chairman of the Allotment Association and a generous source of many top tips for this blog, will be helping us to make a good start to the growing season.  Afterwards there’ll be coffee, cake and chat with fellow allotmenteers.  Even better, the forecast is for a dry day.

This is such a hopeful time of year.  With the help of my elderly mother, I sowed kale, lettuce, tomatoes, basil and coriander in the last week of February. It was a lovely, gentle job to do with someone who taught me so much about growing. Every seed germinated within days – a sure sign that green fingers don’t disappear with short term memory. Showing even stronger growth are the broad beans I sowed in the little potting shed a month ago. They’re almost ready to be planted out.

There are also plenty of healthy looking shoots on the ‘Charlotte’ second early potatoes I left to ‘chit’ in egg boxes on a cool window sill.  I’m taking Andrew Hawkins advice and won’t rush to plant them on the allotment yet.  Greencroft sits in a frost pocket so it’s better to wait for a few more weeks.

The three cordon apple trees from Waterperry have been planted against a wall.  The footings (if that’s the right word) seem to extend a good foot beyond the base of the wall so I’ve had to clear a larger area towards the front of the border than I’d intended – just to give the roots space to grow.  This isn’t a problem for the young cherry tree I’ve planted against the north facing wall.  For once, I thought ahead and asked the men digging up the parking area to make the garden if they would include a space for a small tree.

There hasn’t been much time left over for the allotment while I’ve been busy with family, but spreading the contents of the compost heap has been a useful job to get on with in the odd free half hour.  Even this stress-busting activity has been tinged with sadness.  My lovely old dog died a few weeks ago.  She’s been my constant companion at the allotment since we moved to Henley two years ago.

An allotment would have been tricky when she was young, but for an old dog who loved nothing better than to sit near me while I gardened, it was perfect.  She spent many happy afternoons on a grassy patch I’d made for her, watching the comings and goings on neighbouring plots.  My plot will never be quite the same without her, but fortunately the Greencroft robin is still around to keep us company.

No top tips in this blog.  I’ll be collecting tips from Andrew and stories from allotmenteers on Saturday ready for the next posting.