The weather and the soil are finally getting a bit warmer, so even though we were behind about two weeks with the direct sowing from last year we could finally get going with it. Mags showed me the various stages; first, we needed to rake the ground, we then measured out the rows with string. We sowed carrots, navets, spring onions and beetroot. Using the string as a guideline we made 3 rows with a drill maker for each vegetable. Next is sowing the seed, raking over the soil to cover them and then finally using the string to make more markings for the rows. It was great to learn this and I feel competent to do it by myself in the future.
Whilst we have been waiting for the weather to pick up, we have been doing a lot of tidying up around the garden; weeding, pruning and clearing away anything affected by the snow. I am now starting to appreciate the art of pruning and enjoyed pruning the climbing roses. I trained it to the wire and then cut down to a bud. It was really surprising how vigorous the growth was and a lot needed to be cut away.
The main star of the garden right now is rhubarb. It has been growing vigorously for about 2 weeks now. The rhubarb is grown as a perennial crop. The garden also has a small amount of forced rhubarb. This is when the rhubarb is covered by a terracotta pot which blocks the light. This results in the stems being sweeter and more tender than the exposed crop. The leaves are also yellow due to the lack of chlorophyll.
Words by Siobhan Boyle Agricultural intern at Ballymaloe House