These warm early spring-kind of days are typical opinci kind of days for me. Opinci are traditional shoes from the Balkans. Nowadays mostly used to dance around in oro‘s on traditional music. I use them as around-the-house-shoes and only wear them outdoors when I know that I won’t do a lot of walking. They have a very thin sole, not really shoes made for walking. Unless you are a barefoot kind of walker. I love them nonetheless. So, let me dance you through the garden for another monthly garden update. You can put up a Balkan type of tune to accompany my opinci around the garden.

This time I’ll add a little update from our terrace as well. I’ll actually start with the terrace.
This weekend Eduard and I mentioned to each other that the terrace finally is coming to life this year. The pot-collection is growing with the years passing by and we slowly can see how the space is being filled up. We also made a second seating area and placed our bench on the spot where we have sun in the evenings. It’s a nice place to have dinner during spring. We bought an extra set of chairs to add to the table and to replace the bench, that first was part of the table set.

I’m expanding the flower collection on our terrace and other parts of the garden this year. I bought a few hundreds of bulbs that I distributed randomly over the pots. They are now starting to grow. Some already started to bloom. Next to that I’ve been growing flowers from seed. They are now waiting to be potted on (= placed in bigger pots). I’ve also sown hundreds of sunflowers. I have a wild dream of growing them alongside the whole hedge in our vegetable garden. I will show you if I succeed. It will be so beautiful and magical to see all the sunflower heads turning during the day.

succulents

I’ve bought some fruit and nut plants for my birthday this year. I went a bit overboard I have to admit. We have a dwarf peach tree now, a pear tree, lemon tree, pistachio bush, kiwi bush & kiwai bush. Next to that I started growing cuttings from the existing trees in our garden, for when we move to a new place. That collection has been growing as well. I will have to write a post on those another time. It’s too much for this monthly post. They are filling our terrace nicely though, next to the fruit bushes and all the indoor plants that I placed outdoors now. They needed some fresh air.

Moving on to the vegetable garden. Look at that greenhouse in the back! It’s all set up and ready to use. Eduard and I improved how it’s set up now. We used three extra concrete blocks to secure the tent. We are pretty sure now that it won’t fly away. Last year it also didn’t fly away, but we didn’t use it for the whole season. We took it away when we went on holiday. We didn’t want to bother the person that took care of our house with a complicated greenhouse that potentially could fly away. This year we will leave it there throughout the year.

I am now slowly moving all the big seedlings from the small greenhouses to this big one. In a week or two this greenhouse will be full. It’s unheated by the way. The temparature now doesn’t dip below 10 C in the night, so that’s perfect. During warm days like these I leave the door open. I love formage blanc as you can see. I eat it daily, which is useful as I can use the pots as seedling pots. Now you know my secret.

I hope to plant out  most of the plants outdoors in less than a month. These beans will have to go out sooner I guess. It’s probably too soon for beans, but the weather is nice, so I think I can give it a try. I’ll wait a bit longer with the tomatoes. They aren’t outgrowing their yoghurt pots yet.

Two more new things in the vegetable garden.
First of all, water! We are trying to solve our soil soaker layout, so that we can start giving our plants water. It’s very complicated though. You want to give the right plants the right amount of water. At the same time, you can’t put up too much soakers, the pressure won’t be high enough to push the water all around the garden. I have left this technical responsibility to Eduard. Too complicated for me. Water is really important though. We have moved our second water barrel next to the house, to be able to collect water in a more efficient way. We had to empty all the water that was in the barrels though. The small one had to be moved, so it’s obvious that we had to empty it. The big one had a dead bird floating in it. Beeeh, poor bird. We think that the birds are trying to make a nest on top of the rain collecting pipe. Not so smart. We probably have to put up some netting up there, not to find more birds infecting our garden water supply. Emptying the barrels meant that we have no rain water supply to water any of the plants. We are now waiting for rain. It hasn’t rained in weeks. We are expecting rain by the end of this week though, so hopefully that will solve our water shortage not too long from now.

Another thing that I’ve added to the garden is a hemp forcer around the big cardoon. This will make the stems (that you eat) less bitter. It’s the first year that I’m doing this, so it’s very experimental. Ideally you do this every other year. The plant can recover more easily that way. I have two cardoons. If it works, I will force one every year. I will have to read up on how you normally do this forcing part, as soon as I am confident about how things are done properly, I’ll dedicate a blogpost on the cardoon as well.

Moving on, moving on. I guess your Balkan tune has finished playing already.
Under the small plastic tunnel you can find my first white cabbages, some of the spinach and beetroot. They seem to grow nicely, better than the spinach and beetroot outside the tent. Probably they are/feel more protected I guess. In a few weeks I’ll take off the tunnel though. They will be able to grow by themselves without protection. I will then add the collars around the cabbages for protection.

On the picture below you can see the herb spiral that I build for the first time this year. I’m in love with it. I’ve been growing the collection these last weeks. I have two types of thyme, three types of sage, two types of persil, marjoram, chives, tarragon, rosemary, oregano and lovage growing there now. As we move into the season, you will see more things coming up. I will write a separate post on the spiral as well. It’s another experiment that will hopefully succeed this year.

What else… The purple kale has started blooming. Mission almost accomplished. Soon it will go to seed and I can harvest seeds and then remove the plant. Asparagus are also growing like crazy. We have already eaten one full meal from it and two small ones. Today I’ll make a salad using those thin asparagus sprouts. If you are in doubt and not sure if you should grow asparagus, stop doubting, and start growing. They are amazing and they taste much better than the ones in shops or market. Really.

In a few weeks we will be able to harvest the first peas. I have peas growing in different stages, in different varieties all over the place. Same goes for the broad beans, radishes and lettuce. The garlic is growing perfectly and I think I can see carrot seedlings coming up as well. Too small to photograph though.

The strawberry patch is nice and green. The rhubarb is overlooking everything and waiting for the strawberries to ripen, so that we can make a nice crumble.

Let’s finish the update with the second part of the vegetable garden, that is slowly moving along. I’ve cleared up this first part. This will be the potato bed. As soon as I remove the grass patches, I will add compost and plant the potatoes. They are screaming to be planted. Next up. Probably today.

If you want to compare the garden to last year april, please visit my post from a year ago. Feel free to compare it to the update of 1,5 month ago as well. Last year was clearly a warmer year and everything was ahead of time. I also started sowing much earlier than this year. We started harvesting peas in april and so on. I think that the garden overall, looks better this year though. I have much more planting space, everything has been weeded out more thoroughly and so on. You judge!