Monday 15 February 2010

Green shoots - Spring is almost here

It looks as if gardens everywhere are beginning to wake up after a long cold winter.

I'm picking up the baton from Andy, another tough act to follow, with his thoughtful remarks on healing; and then John’s welcome observations that Spring is not far away…

…. which means that it’s soon going to be a busy time on the allotment and in my little city garden too.

I popped over to the Transition Norwich allotment yesterday and checked up on progress. The broad beans have survived bitter cold and are doing well; also the spring cabbages, garlic and onions (my second pic is of broad beans raised from Stan’s seeds – Sabberton Supremes!).

I’m doing some trials to find out which varieties do best. No chance at all of remembering what each variety is and where I planted them, partly because Mr Fox digs up my plant labels; so I have to keep a notebook with sketches and notes.

I've been learning a lot from fellow-Transitioners about the wider perspective on gardening. I’d love to keep bees; but Nigel advises that it’s a long term commitment and needs attention several times a week. He keeps bees in Woodbridge and suggested that the best thing for me to do at the moment would be to plant bee-friendly shrubs, especially things that provide food in winter.

And I’ve acquired a wonderfully diverse bird population in my little city patch, which I am watching as I type. I was inspired by Charlotte and Mark, whose rambling country garden is dotted with treats and feeders, with birds darting everywhere. Now I’ve installed some cylinders of nuts and seeds; and I won’t tidy away the leaves and seed-heads until Spring is really here.

Books: two great gardening books that I’d recommend are:

  • The Edible Container Garden by Michael Guerra (great for growing food in tiny urban spaces)
  • From Seed to Plate by Paolo Arrigo (lots of advice on unusual and delicious Italian vegetables, things that we can grow here in Norfolk)
Pix: Statue at Blickling Hall; broad beans; notebook

PS: Good programme on Radio 4 about seeds


  1. I listened to that Radio 4 podcast as well - it was fascinating, and was the first time I understood what the F1 hybrid label means... You've also reminded me that I need to get on and sort out my growing plans.

    As for bees, the other side of supporting bees by planting bee-friendly plants in your garden & allotment is the support for the beekeepers. Most commercial honey is a blend of different honeys from different countries, but if you support local apiaries as well as planting the right kinds of plants, you're doubly supporting your local bees.

    The Catholic Church in Southwold does excellent honey from its own bees(
    and Orchid Apiaries' honey is sold in lots of independent shops around Norwich and is great too (

  2. Relieved to hear the beans survived those prolonged frosts. Lost one third of mine and about to replace where gaps, as well as doing a main spring sowing. Lots more seed next time I get to an event.
    I tried bees ... superb wild honey .. but had to give up as the stings turned allergic. It's quite common and can be fatal!

  3. That Michael Guerra book looks excellent, thanks for the tip. I've just reserved it from the library.