Alpaca Shearing Day!
We sheared the alpacas today. They are relieved to have their winter coats off and have a good scratch up and down the hedgerow. They start the day as teddy bears and end up as pipe cleaners!
Apple Tree Water Sprouts
A couple of years ago we gave our eating apple a real haircut. It had become too big. The trouble is for every branch we took out, the tree wanted to replace it with 3 and we had all these water sprouts sticking out of the top which don't bear any blossom or fruit!
Now is the perfect time to deal with them late spring - early summer
It may seem tedious but use a sharp pair of secateurs and cut off the upward facing sprouts close to the horizontal branch don't leave any stub or else you will be back to square one!
The end result is a much better shape. If anymore come up then they will get removed straight away!
A few weeks ago we showed the Hebe below left, that had been badly affected by the cold north winds we had in April. Now that the warmer weather has finally arrived we have cut out the damage below right. It is greening up and even has flower spikes coming if you look closely!
We are really pleased with these beautiful lily flowered tulips the variety is Ballerina. Planted last autumn (4"-6" deep) they look so good with the old brick wall as a backdrop.
Not only are they a glorious colour, they also have a gorgeous perfume!
We will make sure that they are cosseted with a monthly feed of liquid Paca Punch fertiliser when the flowers have finished, to feed the bulbs for next years blooms .
It is best to deadhead and then leave the foliage for as long as possible before tidying it up.
It's full steam ahead in the Veg Garden.
As last years purple sprouting broccoli finishes and we dig them up for the chickens, we have planted out next years. Seeds were started in the greenhouse a couple of months ago, we transplant out when the plants are 15-20cm tall after hardening off for a week or so .Water them well before removing from their pots, and plant 50-60cm apart, with a similar distance between the rows. Water again after planting and firm in well. It seems a long way off but there is nothing better in the depths of winter than those delicious purple florets. Plants are vulnerable as everything wants to eat them before we can! Slugs, pigeons and flea beetles. A mixture of dry teabags and crushed egg shells can keep away slugs, net for pigeons and by planting strong plants early before adult beetles emerge, reduces the likelihood of attack.
One of our family favourites is sweetcorn. You can grow them in the same place year after year. These plants will go out in a couple of weeks planted in squares 18 inches between plants to aid wind pollination. Pick the cobs from late July when the tassels turn brown and the kernels, when pressed with a thumbnail, exude a milky liquid.. Our trouble is squirrels like them too !
With the risk of frosts reducing, harden off your tender plants to prepare them for planting out toward the end of the month. We start by putting them out during the day and bring in at night then gradually leave them out overnight if not too cold.
Tip make sure that you fill your watering cans and keep them in the greenhouse to warm the water a little to avoid shocking the tender plants unnecessarily when watering.
Get ahead and put out bean poles ready to plant out runner beans. Anything you can do now will save time in a couple of weeks!
Don't forget the wildlife.
Having had our first swallows returning and hearing the cuckoo this week, spring is really in the air and our thoughts turn to giving nature a helping hand.
Flowers look beautiful and bring welcome bursts of colour to our gardens, and they’re a fantastic source of nectar, seeds and cover for the wildlife which lives there.
With careful planning and a mix of herbaceous, biennial and annual flowering plants, you can have something in flower for most months of the year. try to choose single petalled varieties.
Corn cockle, corn marigold, poppy and cornflower, provide an attractive splash of colour throughout the summer and are very easy to grow and you’ll be giving a home to a type of flower that is very much in decline in the UK.
You can grow them in seed trays so even the smallest of spaces can benefit from a splash of colour and give a home to nature. Plant a shallow, tray filled with soil with a suitable mix of flowers and it will look amazing on a balcony, terrace or any small space.
If you are able to come to the Spring Plant Fair at Helmingham Hall this Bank Holiday, you will get inspiration by talking with experts and perhaps take a tour around the magnificent gardens.