April showers! And wind. And frost. And fog. But April days are getting longer – just in time as it’s getting very busy in the walled garden. Ensuring the soil is healthy and fertile is a priority and so the entire garden has had a liberal sprinkling of well-rotted manure. As well as adding nitrogen, the manure increases the soil’s organic matter and keeps the gardener’s biceps in shape!

A team effort to plant the spuds.

Potatoes are a hungry crop and so are the first to benefit from this soil preparation. This year we’ve planted a large variety of early and maincrop potatoes – Sarpo Mira, Sarpo Axona, Home Guard and Duke of York to name a few.

Volunteer Melissa and Gardener Mike sowing seeds

Seed sowing at this time of year is both space and time consuming. Heritage, cherry and maincrop tomatoes require the heat of the propagator to germinate before we plant them in the glasshouse. The names of the tomatoes are intriguing and I wonder sometimes about the naming of varieties such as ‘Cherokee Purple’ and ‘Andine Cornue’ while others such as ‘Black Russian’ and ‘Yellow Pear’ ring true when the tomato ripens. By now we’ve also sown Brussels sprouts, cabbages, broad beans, perpetual spinach, herbs and flowers.

Garden design meeting!

Away from vegetable and fruit production for the Ballymaloe kitchen, a new herbaceous and cut flower bed has been created by Garden Designer, Susan Turner. Susan has combined the need for seasonal cut flowers for the hotel with decorative and edible plants, berries and fruits. Apple and pear archways lead you through to the main garden while an apple step-over at the back of the new bed lets you see beyond the bed to rows of asparagus, sea kale, rhubarb and all the annual crops. It’s the soil preparation, crop rotation planning, seed sowing and fruit-tree pruning at this time of year that we hope will produce a healthy bounty in the coming months. Follow the Ballymaloe Walled Garden on Twitter @BallymaloeGdn