El Crapo!

The arrival of April is an exciting prospect for the vegetable gardener. The clock has moved one hour forward, the seemingly endless winter nights are truncated and the daylight hours stretch out their arms into a summer embrace. We uproot ourselves from the Netflix binges and shed our winter coats, we plant our feet firmly in our wellies and plunge our hands into the soil, for April heralds the hope of heavy Autumn harvests.

There’s an old proverb “Sweet April showers, do spring May flowers” and if that is truly the case, then I fully expect my plot to be glorious with colour in May. Here in Ireland, the position of the jet stream often causes heavy downpours during the month of April and the rain here in Dublin has been fierce, driving and relentless since the first day of the month. While I often welcome the April rains, I sincerely wish the sky would choose days when I’m stuck in work to open up instead of choosing to do so when I am free to garden all day. It seems that every day I plan to visit the allotment, it doesn’t just rain but it absolutely pours. Now, I’m no fair-weather gardener and have often been the only person on site in my wellies and rain gear, working on the plot, but it is simply impossible to plant anything outdoors when the weather is working against you.

Usually by now, I have a lot more planted on the plot, however, I am not one to panic. It is often the case that everything I plant in March dies anyway and I have to start all over again. Gardening is all about patience, about letting the climate make your decisions, about becoming dependant on the natural world so, while I am on the back foot, hedging my bets and biding my time, I have learned over the past few years that nature will invariably show me when it is time to plant.

Most years, I plant my onion sets in mid-March but this year I waited until the 10th of April, which happened to be a dry, if not windy day. I planted a full raised bed with Sturon onion sets, this variety thrived for me two years ago so I decided to give them another shot. There’s something very special for me about planting onion sets. Onions were my first truly successful crop on my plot in the first year and it always feels that garden season has truly begun when they go in. The torrential rain the following day may be problematic however and I’m sitting here, worried that my baby onions are now floating around in a muddy puddle.

IMG_1534

Spot the rows of onion sets

 

This is when having a polytunnel becomes very beneficial. Despite the slow start to the season, I am able to sow seeds under cover. I love standing in my polytunnel while the rain drums on the plastic overhead, sowing seeds, drinking tea, blaring music and singing at the top of my lungs. This week, I’ve planted Aubergines, Courgettes, Chillies, Dwarf French Beans and Basil in the warmth and safety of the polytunnel. I’ve also sown some flowers including Nasturtium (no allotment is complete without these beautiful and edible flowers), Sweet Peas and Marigolds.

IMG_1526Last week, my folks returned from a trip to Amsterdam and brought me back something I’ve always wanted to grow (no, not that, I don’t particularly fancy being arrested*), they brought me home some black tulips. These have been kept in cold storage over winter and are a late blooming variety so I’m hoping they bloom in a matter of weeks. Black tulips aren’t truly black, but a very deep shade of purple and I have a bit of a thing for blue and purple flowers so I am very excited to see if they bloom for me. Watch this space.

* I am wildly disapointed that I can not realise my childhood dream of becoming a powerful criminal mastermind and organic-hippie-drug-cartel. Dublin’s very own El Chapo: El Crapo! 

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10 thoughts on “El Crapo!

  1. Steve Jones says:

    I am having the same weather related problems in Essex, my home garden is flooded but at least my allotment has full water butts now so hopefully lugging water back to the plot in high summer will be but a distant memory.

  2. plumdirt says:

    Best of luck with the tulips! I planted some here this fall. The squirrels got most of them and either the lack of frost or something else got the others. I did get some narcissus though!

    • FionaGrowsFood says:

      I’ve noticed some tulips in gardens beginning to bloom but only now, we had daffodils in January after a strangely mild December but now everything is stunted. I suppose it’s part of the fun of gardening, we never know what will or won’t grow.

      • plumdirt says:

        Our daffodils are super late, which is odd to be because we had such a mild winter. If not for the weather (and soil, and pests, and and and) we wouldn’t have nearly the adventure!

  3. craftandothercrazyplans says:

    Our allotment is on the wet side of the field and is prone to flooding. We have only just started planting. The weather has played havoc with many planned gardening days here too! Hope it perks up soon, wishing for overnight rain and dry days.

  4. Mark says:

    Weather is a gardener’s best friend and worst enemy, isn’t it! I hope your black tulips do well. There is something special about flowers with a sinister edge.

  5. Reen says:

    I’m well behind on the allotment too – for the same reason, cold and rainy at the weekends! I’m trying to get things going inside so I can plant them out when it improves a bit. Still only April though, plenty of time. My onions, garlic, shallots and first earlies are in, and a few hopeful parsnip/carrot/beetroot seeds, but I’m not overly optimistic about them…..
    Loving the black tulips. I’m anticipating a bundle of self-seeded marigolds on the allotment :o)

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