Waiting for spring

The garden has been snow-covered and frozen, water-logged and swampy and that’s just been in the past week! Hopefully now that we are well into March and quickly approaching spring it should be a little warmer and drier.

I’ve been trying to keep off the grass near my vegetable plot; at this time of year it is more shaded and really very damp underfoot, my boots making squelching sounds as I walk. But the weeds are gently beginning to take over so whenever I drop off the kitchen compost I do a little weeding. I like to try to weed little and often. Pulling out the weeds when the ground is soft and the weeds small is the best way to go. However, this weekend calls for some serious work, I’ll be doing some extensive weeding and I’m planning on adding some compost and raking the beds so they are ready for planting. I’m also planning my planting for the summer and thinking about stakes and supports for the veggies I will plant. What will go where and what new varieties I’d like to introduce and of course which stalwarts will return. There are a number of small producers in the area who will gladly sell small plantlets (plantons) including La Ferme des Pralies in Arnex-sur-Nyon and La Ferme de Budé in Petit Saconnex near the UN in Geneva – keep an eye on their websites for details of sales. I’ve started some seeds in old tins on a window ledge, flat leafed parsley and rocket as well as some nasturtiums. I’m going to use the herbs as microgreens and add them to salads – even a small indoor space allows you to grow microgreens.

The perennial bed at my front door is finally seeing the sun – it goes into hibernation from October until the beginning of March. It gets no direct sunlight for that whole period thanks to the low level of the sun and the shade of the house. I leave the seed heads of the perennials standing to provide winter food for birds but now in March I give it a little clean up. I remove the dead, spent seed heads and any rotting vegetation and weeds of course. I like to give this area a serious mulch, it is so tightly planted that if I don’t do this now before everything starts growing it will never get done. I head to my local garden centre and buy bags of compost and tip them over the area, covering by between 2-4 cms. This gives extra nutrition to the plants and also helps with moisture retention later in the summer. The beds also look a lot better when dressed.

Roses have got to be one of my favourite garden flowers, I especially love cutting them for the house. I love the colour varieties, the scent and the fact that many are repeat flowering providing flowers from early May for the whole summer. I was ruthless last week and pruned all of them very hard and thankfully I’ve been surprised to see so much new growth in such a short time. If you are unsure about what to prune there are a few things to keep in mind; start by removing any crossing, rubbing and damaged branches, take a look at the rose tree and remove anything that is growing the wrong way, towards a door, path or wall and finally try to give the rose an open feel removing a few branches that are growing towards the middle, its best to have a goblet shape which allows for good movement of air. Don’t be afraid to reduce the height of your roses. They really do grow back.

I’ve decided to try to mow a path through my wildflower meadow this year. Unfortunately I’ve planted it on a steep hill which is too difficult to garden and currently too difficult to appreciate except from below. I’m hoping a path will allow me to walk through it and see the flowers up close. It’s currently got lots of tall yellow daffodils bobbing in the wind. I do so enjoy this time of year. I love being surprised by the bulbs as they open into flower every spring, the vibrancy of their colours and their determination to stand tall regardless of what the weather throws at them. In my mind there are never enough bulbs in the garden. With this in mind, back in the autumn, I sought out many new and unusual varieties of narcissus. I planted them up in old unattractive pots and placed them off to the side. Once the buds turn yellow I cut them for the house and enjoy them inside. If I like a particular variety I move them once they have finished flowering into the borders or else I place them in my wildflower meadow to bring some brightness to the garden next year. Narcissus multiply very nicely so soon I’ll have many.

If you live in the Nyon area and don’t have a vegetable garden but would love one this one is for you. A group of interested amateur gardens in Prangins near Nyon have formed an association called au-potager.ch where locals and others can rent a plot (or share a plot) of 30m2 each to farm benefitting from the support and advice of the local gardening community. The idea is to create a community of growers where individuals come together to garden, farm and grow their own vegetables with the support of the association abiding by the clear sustainable objectives of the association, ie all local and organic. The land is prepared by the association and rented out on an annual basis. This space of 2.5 hectars is located next to the aerodrome in Prangins. Gardeners are encouraged to come to the garden by foot or bike reducing their carbon footprint. This project needs some financial assistance to get going and is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise Chf 25,000 to buy tools, set up an irrigation system, as well as protections and an enclosure to preserve the vegetable garden. If you are interested in getting involved check out their webpage it looks like a great project.

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