March 2017: Notes from the garden shed

I catch my breath every year at the beauty of spring flowers; this year in the Skip garden we’ve got more flowering bulbs than ever before and it looks wonderful.  This is mostly to do with the warm winter we’ve just experienced encouraging all the spring bulb species that should flower one after the other to all flower together!

Sadly this makes a nonsense of our tulip alarm clocks which the Twilight gardening teams planted in the autumn to remind them to return in May to start the Twilight gardening sessions again – the tulips are flowering now but we won’t start the Twilight gardening sessions till the end of May.  Oh well enjoy the early season!

We’re passed the spring equinox on the 21st (so now each day is longer than the last) and the official start of spring on the 20th - but can we trust the weather?  This is the springtide gardener’s dilemma – glorious warm days that trick us into sowing or putting outside our tender plants – then cold nights that damage them!  In March London temperatures have swung from a daytime high of 16 degrees C to a night-time low of 2 degrees C - enough to shock any little plantlet.

Well, in the gardening armoury there are cloches and the good old ‘cold frame’ – open to the warm air during the day then closed tight shut at night - just don’t forget to shut it!

Quinoa is our newest super food; Marta our ex-intern and now roving reporter in South America sends this report and pictures of its homeland:

"Everywhere I been in South America I’ve seen Quinoa crops growing; here are some pictures of Quinoa crop in Cuenca, Ecuador. In Peru the most important area for growing is Puno. In Bolivia I saw Quinoa crops in Villa Mar, a real desert area. See the picture of Quinoa soup, in Bolivia you can eat it in every restaurant and it is very tasty. Quinoa beer is also really good as well. In Huaraz in Peru they make Quinoa tea energy bars mixed with nuts and Quinoa tea."

There are many varieties of wonderful summer flowering bulbs like any of the Allium species, native Squills or Saffron to plant now.

Start planning your seed sowing now!