Sunday, 28 February 2010

Signs of spring

There are a few! The snowdrops are steadily increasing from year to year, and are beginning to form sheets of white. Some of the garlic is beginning to sprout, or was before I mulched it all with a load of autumn leaves. It's still down there somewhere, and no doubt it will reappear. Oca, Chinese artichokes and tuberous peas are all in.

The latter two are new to me. Chinese artichokes are familiar in name, at least. It's a mint relative with small tubers which have a bit of a reputation for being difficult to clean. We'll see; it's easy enough to sluice most things off in the stream. I hadn't heard of tuberous peas until someone offered me some; apparently, they were Linnaeus' favourite root vegetable. He was an 18th century Swedish botanist who invented the modern form of scientific nomenclature for living things. The peas look like everlasting sweet peas, and have small tubers; they're said to be very low-yielding. they must have been grown quite widely at one time, as they're naturalised in various places.

I'm holding off on planting anything else. The soil is nowhere near warm enough to sit on with my bare bum, so I certainly can't plant seed direct. I could start the tomatoes, but then they could easily get too big before they can be planted out. I'm feeling rather half-hearted about them since I've lost them all to blight three years running. Similarly, I could start the peas, but I want a good choice of varieties for the show in August, so I'm going to wait. Leeks and some of the brassicas can be started as soon as I'm confident about the weather, but there's plenty of time yet.


  1. It's very tempting to get too much in too early isn't it? Last year I didn't put my oca in until April - I was afraid it might be frosted off.

    I've heard of, and seen pictures of, chinese artichokes - they look like monstrous grubs! - but the tuberous peas are new to me. I'll be intersted in your report on yield and flavour.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog, Robert :)

    Your temps are much warmer than ours as we are sitting at 225 metres above sea level, so I haven't started anything in my garden yet!

    I take my hat off to you with all the interesting veggies you are growing. I used to be more optimistic, but, now that I've retired from teaching, I stick to strawbs, rasps, and salad crops...

    I related so much to your comment about the garden keeping you was always therapy for me when I was teaching :)