Living with the seasons: April

We might not be seeing a lot of this season, as most of us are on lockdown and won’t be leaving our homes or towns for the foreseeable future. So, this month’s post is going to be a little different… this is the season of lock down. 

For the first time ever, we are staying somewhere with a garden! This is an immense privilege, that not everyone has. As such, I’m going to not only cover what needs doing in the garden, but also what gardening we can do at home also. 

In the past week the weather has been beautiful, and I’ve been in the garden every moment a can! I’ve been sowing, digging and clearing. This year we are hoping to grow the following in our veg patch: tomatoes, salad leaves, raspberries, courgettes and summer squash. All these seeds have been sown indoors (although not the raspberries… those are already growing in the veg patch). I am by no means an expert on seeding, but I’ve done some reading and research, so hopefully I can share that with you and we can learn together along the way. 

The amazing cold frame Joe made me this month
DIY mini cold frame for hardening off seedlings, made from bricks and glass.

We’ve got our seed trays, we’ve seeded them up, we’ve watered them: now what? Seeds need warmth to germinate, more warmth than the outside can provide at the moment. So, once you have sown your seeds, unless you have a heated greenhouse, you are going to want to bring those little babies inside to a warm spot in your house. Keep them moist, but don’t worry about light for now. Within 5 to 10 days you seeds should have germinated. Now we want to give them the maximum light that we can! A south facing windowsill would be best, if you don’t have that then you might want to bring in grow lights. Once we have got strong little seedlings, we will harden them off and be moving them to the cold frame Joe has made for me. If you don’t have an old frame you can always improvise one out of things you have around the house. You can see in this photo our previous Frankenstein cold frame, made from bricks and glass. If your seedlings don’t have enough light they will get leggy and not grow strong. Next month we will talk about planting out.

We are in that awkward time of year – the hunger gap. where winter crops have finished but summer crops are not yet fruitful. However, this is one of my favourite foodie times of year, for it is asparagus season! For this short window is time, one of my favourite veggies is inh season! We don’t eat asparagus for the rest of the year because it will have been imported, which makes this time all the more special. Like having Christmas cake at Christmas or strawberries in summer, or when Americans go nuts for pumpkin spiced things in autumn. My favourite way to eat asparagus is simply griddled and served with a poached egg on sourdough bread. One of the joys of this meal is that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Life for all of us is a little crazy right now… but on the plus side we all have a little bit more time on our hands. So, let’s use that time to find a little calm. Something that has been bringing me joy this month is all the amazing smells of nature! If you can find somewhere outside, like your garden or a park, take a few moments to do some breathing exercises. I find early in the morning the best time to do this. Breath in the fresh air, smell all the blossoms on the trees, the first flowers starting to bloom; it smells like spring. The air is still cold and the smell of winter lingers, but a sweetness cuts through it. The birds overhead are singing: their chicks have hatched. If you’re lucky (and probably not living in England) you might be able to feel the sun on your face, the first warming rays of the year. Take a moment to think of everything that brings you hope. Spring is hope. Even in these dark days. 

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