Barlow Nurseries

Growers of trees, shrubs and hardy herbaceous perennial garden plants near Newport, Shropshire

Spring …. ?

Well, maybe.    It’s still damn cold out there, but at last we’ve had a few dry and at least partly sunny days, which have allowed us to stick a couple of tentative toes outside.

We’re weeks behind where we’d hoped to have been by now;  we’ve grown used to mild winters when we’ve been able to garden pretty much continuously, and this years extended bittter cold and snowy weather has rather taken the wind from our sails.   The nursery keeps us occupied full time from Spring to Autumn, leaving only time for routine gardening for those 9 months, so we have to squeeze the structural work (which includes our currently 15 year old project to refurbish our house) into the 3 winter months.   And this year, for both family and meteorological reasons, it just hasn’t happened.

So the merest hint of sun has encouraged us to re-acquaint ourselves with spade and fork, and GET SOME WORK DONE!

And so….the side garden has had a few more hours attention, and the potager area is starting to take shape.   We’ve both felled and burned the last few trees so there’s considerably more light getting in now.   Hopefully, that’ll improve the grass (or rather encourage some to grow – the green stuff on the ground is currently mostly moss) and should give our fruit and veg enough sunshine to thrive.

Mmmm, the taste of summer.....

Mmmm, the taste of summer.....

And the turf stripping spade has been out again.  If we were really smart we’d plan all our turf stripping for one day and hire a machine, but we’re not that clever, we garden spontaneously, and Nick’s back takes the strain.   And as you can see from the picture, the first of the beds has been dug, post and wire supports have been installed, and the soft fruit is going in (summer raspberries at one end, a single loganberry in the middle, and autumn raspberries at the other end).

This is nostalgia gardening for Nick – there was a row of raspberries in his childhood garden in Hastings, and they were always a highlight of his summer diet, so this is something of a trip down memory lane (I wonder if these will taste as sweet?).

We’ll devise some means of keeping the pesky bird population off the crop later!

The canes and string in the foreground mark the second, as yet undug bed, and that should start to take shape shortly (and will house runner, broad and french beans, courgettes, lettuce, radish, and no doubt a few other veg plot staples). We want to grow butternut squash again, but fear they’ll outgrow these modest 4 ft wide beds, so we’re ruminating on that one.

They are 4 ft wide for a reason – we seem to remember that was the late great Geoff Hamilton’s preferred raised bed width (so you could work without having to stand on the soil) and it seemed sensible to have conversion to raised beds up our sleeve as a future project. Probably a long-time-in-the-future project.

And yes, we remember Toby Buckland getting a beating on the beeb message boards when he encouraged Sara Cox to plant veg in an area of newly stripped turf in her garden…but this will be the fourth time we’ve done it here, and it’s been fine every time so far….

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