Thursday March 27th 2008, 5:16 pm

rasberry canes waiting to be planted

Today is positively spring like. It really feels like the first day of spring and for me that means getting a washload of laundry underway and pinned out on the line to dry in the fresh air. Of course my optimism could be short lived but at least for the moment life has a uplifting vibe.
My bed is surrounded by gardening books and bits of paper detailing my horticultural hopes for the season ahead. I am always way too ambitious but at least in March anything seems possible. The four edged beds, they can hardly be called ‘raised’, that I made last year are in pretty good shape; dug over, weed free and raring to go with any freshly-dug bare earth covered with hessian coffee sacks to keep them safe from marauding cats.
The globe artichokes which were planted last year are looking very lush (I think I was supposed to have cut them down to the ground over the winter but I forgot) and the rhubarb (Glaskins Perpetual – I chose that variety just for the name) is also looking very promising.

Globe artichokes

I have a few more new beds to dig, nowhere for my chitting potatoes to be planted and rasberry canes that need to go in somewhere. Gardening can be another of lifes big pressures if you don’t approach it right and it can cost a fortune as well. I don’t have a greenhouse and with limited windowsill space in the house I am trying to be realistic. I’ve still got lots of viable seeds from last year that I will be using up this year but I don’t need acres of tomatoes, just a handful of plants and likewise with other vegetables. So why do I think I have to grow everything from scratch?
Last year when I had not got round to planting something on time or else my carefully nutured seedlings disappeared overnight when the slugs had a snack attack, I started looking for ready-grown plants to buy. Mail order veg plants, ready to go in, is an increasingly growing business and you can now have a whole vegetable plot delivered to your door based on square metreage.
This trend is becoming apparent on ebay too and I feel sure this is likely to be a real boom area. I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying in my whole garden like that but I have been finding some really great things on ebay to help lighten the load. So far this year I have bought in a great selection of raspberries from Blacklands Plants and they arrived in the post in excellent condtion, have pre-ordered 5 organic tomato plants each one a different variety from helenchenplants who is growing some really interesting varieties of tomatoes, chillies and aubergines, and found unusual beetroot seed, burpees golden and chioggia, from Pelican Seeds. Last year I bought in leeks, sprouting broccoli and cavola nero plants on ebay because it was too late to plant from seed and they are all still doing very nicely. This is definitely the way to go.

Beau enjoying the spring sunshine