Down the plot today and was surprised by some new arrivals. No, not a family of rare albino leopards but new shoots on the fruit canes, new growth on the rhubarb and new leaves on the shallots.
Its a sure sign that the ground is warm enough to start sowing hardy crops and planting out the tougher plants. Of course , most of what we should call hardy plants are already out. Broad beans, new potatoes, brassicas and overwintered onions and relatives such as garlic and shallots have all been in the ground for ages now. I mean the stuff we usually wait for warmth for before planting out. The old system for checking involved sitting on the soil with skin contact(yes..). If it was warm enough for that, it was warm enough to plant and sow. Not wishing to bare my prize assets to the compost I normally wait until I see the shoots on shallots or other things like the currants. If the sap is rising (oh its all a bit carry on today) then its safe to put out the tough stuff. I have continued with my early spuds, and started to sow some runners under cover too. Im trying a modular tray of Lady Di runners (available from site shop £1:50) and another tray exactly the same but of Lady Di seed saved from last years crop. I hear a lot about saving seed so I'm giving it a trial.
The Purple Sprouting is still providing plenty of food as is the Brocolli although the earlier plantings are starting to keel over now. Im keen to see some sign of sprouting on the white varieties though. I have been caught out by the Asparagus plants my lovely wife bought me(Wilkinsons) about a month ago. They were in polybags and were sprouting so I just planted them in a well dug and well rotted manured plot. I fully imagined that they would be killed off by the cold but today I went to dig into the same plot to plant out another crop when I almost uprooted the two healthy looking spiders!. Nature is a suprising old bird.. Unfortunately I don't see the Cardoman Lemon Tree coming back from the grave though. I hate it when shops start selling things so far out of season there is no chance of them surviving. It makes people think it is their mistake when they die and it discourages more gardeners taking up the spade.
I have no problem with people like Wilkinsons and the like selling low priced plants and tools etc., just that they time things wrongly. I have managed to do ok by them recently with onion sets and red gooseberries romping away and the red currant holding its own well against a set of black currants from my favourite supplier, a friend with an excess.
I was about to order a collection of autmn raspberries earlier this year when I was stopped by a good friend on site who was keen to thin out his patch of Autmn Bliss canes. He offered me all I could carry and a few black currants to go with them. Thanks mate, you're another salt of the earth site member , one of the many that make sites work against the odds.