Grow & Tell
It’s time to get out your gladdies
There’s a softness in the air, blossom everywhere, growth pushing upwards, and birds busy nesting. Spring is beautiful. There’s the last of the daphne, kowhai and kakabeak, fruit trees are in bloom, tulips are bursting forth, and camellias are doing their stunning best. Then there’s the smaller delights of forget-me-nots, lily-of-the-valley, calendula, rocket and the bright yellow of flowering brassicas. It’s all simply gorgeous.
While I’m enjoying the present beauty, it’s also a good idea to look forward, but if you are getting excited about your vegetable garden, hold your horses. Get their manure gathered up though, ready for when it is time to get planting.
THE BEST CROP TO GROW RIGHT NOW
The desire and need to get plants in the soil increases as the days get longer, but it’s still pretty early so we plant something that will survive the vagaries of spring weather: mesclun. This is a diverse range of salad plants which grow fast, require little work and produce many meals from a small area.
The name comes from the Provence region of France where the locals called the market mixtures of salad plants ‘mesclun’ (‘mixture’ in French). Kings Seeds now offers packs of original, oriental and Italian mesclun seed.
It’s best sown in wide rows or small patches. Close planting helps to control weeds and makes picking easy.
Soil should be well worked, fine and fertile, and hopefully as weed-free as possible. I like to prepare the soil, then sprinkle the seeds evenly and reasonably thickly over the plot, before covering with fine soil to about 1cm deep. Pat the soil down a bit, then water the seeds in. Keep the bed moist, but not soggy.
Sowing coming up to a full moon will encourage quick germination. Netting over the patch will keep the birds, cats and dogs off, and also provides a bit of dappled shade.
Once the seedlings are up, maintain moisture, provide slug and snail control, and pull out identifiable weeds.
The speedy magic of mesclun will be on the table within about six weeks. That’s my kind of fast food.
Forget-me-nots and calendula mingle as part
of the spring carpet. Tulips are a garden cliche but well worth having for
their gorgeousness. The ammunition against the
snails and slugs is ready, in this case ashes and sawdust. My spring onions grown through winter, but more can still go in now.