Looking back at April, we find that spring is about two weeks later than usual here on the land. It took until the end of the month for most plants to start to flower, but by now the bees are making up for any time lost and if you walk out amongst the berry shrubs you are surrounded by a loud chorus of buzzing insects. It looks like it will be a very large berry and fruit crop this year, judging by the amount of blossom.
We are now in the first week of May and one of our favourite things is happening in the garden. Everywhere ferns are unfurling their leaves, an incredibly beautiful spectacle.
Last year’s leaves are still there to protect the delicate new shoots and the tight spirals unravel, right before our eyes. In just a couple of days the ferns are completely transformed and we are excited to see how big they will get this year.
In the conservatory we have some extra special ones like the Maiden hair fern and a variegated variety with very narrow leaves.
In our woodland it was time to coppice our basket weaving willows to get lots of straight shoots for next year. We will use all the cut pieces for weaving fences around some of our areas with flowers and also for plant supports.
Around the circle things are starting to green up and we have been busy removing some unwanted stinging nettles and creeping buttercup and mulching all areas with rotted manure and woodchips. Nettles have their place in our garden as an important food source and nursery for the butterflies, but if we don’t control them they are popping up everywhere. We do eat them though and have come across a recipe for nettle crisps, which we are thinking about trying out in the near future.
This is the first year that our perennials are big enough to divide and move around the garden so we have been doing a bit of that as well, along with bringing some plants to the Community garden and the newly established school garden where all the younger members of the family attend school.
We are looking forward to the next few weeks when it will be time to plant vegetable seedlings and sow some seeds for vegetables as well. We are planning to repeat the experiment we did the first year we lived in our cottage, when we mixed up the seeds of many different vegetables and scattered them over a two square meter area at a time. We harvested some plants very young, if they grew to close together and then the radishes, salads and all the other crops as they matured and ripened. It worked well last time and there were very few weeds as the plants covered the entire area. We will let you know how we get on later in the year. At the moment we are harvesting kale flower shoots and wild perennial onions for stir-fries most days. A very tasty way to celebrate spring!