Spring is nearly here – what’s growing on?


I’m so happy that spring is round the corner but in terms of it ‘feeling like spring’ I’m as confused as the weather! It’s snowing one minute and mild and sunny the next. Very random! On the milder days it’s been great getting outside into the garden. Adam’s been tidying the greenhouse and I’ve been doing the weeding and having a general potter around. The weeds have really started growing now and I enjoy trying to get rid of them as soon as possible.

weeds-3What is this plant? Is it a weed?

My soil is lovely and I wonder if the minimal digging we did in the autumn combined with a bit of mulching has helped it achieve a soft and crumbly texture. I really can’t remember what it was like this time last year – warmer and drier I think so I’m not going to be able to pin point exactly why my soil texture feels great but it’s very easy to spruce up and keep neat, which is good in my books!


A few weeks back I planted out my broad beans. I started them off indoors and then popped them into the greenhouse in big tubs until I felt the weather was a bit more stable. I’ve covered them with a net-box and sprinkled coffee grounds around them. One of my favourite local Cafes – The Cheerful Chili gives them away and they claim it works! So far, so good.


Inside the greenhouse I have pots and pots of tulips. When they come into flower I’ll take them outside and most of them will go by my front door. I also have my ornamental kale which has bolted a bit. I’ve never grown this plant before so I’ve got no idea what I’m doing with it to be honest!



Inside the house things are also growing and I’m starting to sow all my seeds for March.

My lettuces are still tiny but looking really healthy and I expect to be potting it on very soon and starting my next batch.


A couple of weeks ago I sowed my chilies in expandable coir pellets. I bought a kit with the propagator included for around £4.95, which is quite expensive compared to a big bag of seed sowing compost. I’ve never used these pellets before but they seem to be really popular. My chilies are still germinating (they take ages) so I have no real view yet on how good these modules are. They are extremely quick, easy and clean to use though, which is a bonus. I just hope the seeds grow well, I’m hoping they’ll pop through any day now.


My mammoth leeks are potted on and still look like little stalks. I’ve never grown this large variety before so I’m just keeping them in the light, well watered and I’m hoping for the best!


My irises have been lovely this year but some are already on their way out, which is quite sad. I have another variety to come up next and I can’t wait for my daffodils and tulips to flower. The lavender is looking very healthy and once spring is established I’ll be looking forward to that taking hold.

I spent the day at Harlow Carr on a photography course today. I discovered that I’ve pretty much been doing everything wrong! I’m looking forward to downloading the photos I took and I’ll post any good ones. I’m really looking forward to getting out in the garden tomorrow.

Have you started sowing anything yet? What have you been doing in your gardens and allotments?

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42 Responses to “Spring is nearly here – what’s growing on?”

  1. The Garden Smallholder March 16, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    The weather has been really odd at times, quite confusing! I wanted to get some weeding done at the allotment today but it has been raining constantly so I decided to head home and try again tomorrow. Still waiting on our chillies too. I’m yet to try coffee grounds, fingers crossed they work well for you.

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 12:38 am #

      It rained really heavily here from about 6.30pm, I’m so lucky it didn’t rain during the day while I was on the photography course! Hoping it’s cleared up for Sunday. Thanks so much for your comment :) I hope the bug on my site has gone now!

  2. gardeninacity March 16, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    It’s always very gratifying to stick your hand in the ground and pick up a handful of rich black earth.

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 12:39 am #

      It sure is Jason! I hope the weather is getting milder in your neck of the woods too and you can get stuck into the gardening again soon :)

  3. Christina March 17, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    I think your mystery plant is a newly emerging sedum from what I can see. I’m surprised you say chillies take a long time to germinate. The ones I sowed, which were the seed from last years crop that had need around in the kitchen for ages, so not exactly well stored, germinated in a few days. They were in a heated propagator. This is the fun time of year with all the seeds germinating and seedlings being pricked out. Christina

  4. Anna B March 17, 2013 at 7:48 am #

    Hi Christina! It sure is a fun time of year, or getting that way anyway. I think your heated propagator will have helped the chillies to germinate quicker, they’ll have enjoyed the warmth and they times will vary between the different types. The ones I sow take around 2 weeks to pop through. Funny you mention that yours grew despite not being well stored. I did the same with my tomatoes last year – the seeds were literally just slapped onto some brown paper that moved from place to place in the kitchen and they were the best crop I’ve ever had!! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  5. Cathy March 17, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Hi Anna. Those tulip leaves look good – can’t wait to see the blooms. I haven’t started sowing yet, as we had a really cold snap and even indoors next to the windows it’s just too cool. That plant looks very much like the yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris?) I have in my garden, just sprouting now. If it is, then beware! The roots spread like mad!
    Love your ornamental kale too!

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 8:12 am #

      Hi Cathy! I’m so pleased I’ve just discovered a tulip this morning! It’s not one in the greenhouse though, it’s one that’s already by my front door! Hoping it will open up fully very soon!! Really interesting about the plant/weed. Like Christina, I thought it was a sedum at first but something told me I should be cautious about it. It’s nowhere near my other sedums for a start and it just seems a little different. I can imagine it being vigorous because of its roots! Adam said he thought it would grow tall with big flowers but he didn’t know the name. Thanks for the tip off :)

  6. Nadezda March 17, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Anna, I’m interested in pellets, too! I bought them (are enough expensive!) and sowed petunias there. The flowers grow well but I am not sure of peppers.
    Your blue iris is wonderful!
    have a nice weekend!

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      Hello Nadezda! I’m glad your petunias worked well in the pellets. I’ve enjoyed the irises so much this year, they’re been brilliant. Thanks so much for your comment. I hope you have a nice weekend too :)

  7. Sue@GLAllotments March 17, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    It’s a bit early to tell whether that is a weed or not especially from the photo I’d keep it for a while until it gives itself away.. WE have a dwarf iris called Alida which looks just like yours and is lovely at the moment..

    You must give us some photography tips but are you really doing things wrongly or just differently!

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

      Hi Sue, I’m off to the allotment now, so hopefully the plant/weed (the suspect) is still there. I can’t quite remember what I did with it to be honest?! I did think at the time I thought I should put it to one side and monitor it’s progress, so hopefully it’ll be in a ‘safe place’!

      I’ll definitely share some tips too. I’ve still not got my photos off my camera, can’t wait to see them! I think photography is a very personal thing but I learned so much about plant and flower photography yesterday that blew all my original thoughts out of the window, like the light conditions. Apparently grey days (like today) are perfect for taking photos, whereas I always thought a nice bright sunny day would show plants off at their best! Plus I also learned about aperture and shutter speed and ISO which was all a bit confusing to me until yesterday. Anyway, I’d best get out there and make the most of my afternoon. Hope you’re having a good weekend and thanks so much for dropping by :)

      • Sue@GLAllotments March 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

        Must admit to relying on auto for much of my photography and I’d love to know more about using the manual settings.

        I think lots of photos are best when the sun isn’t shining brightly as it tends to bleach out the colours. Having said that if you are going for a light and shade shot then an overcast day isn’t ideal. As you say it is very personal but I look forward to hearing some of your tips.

        • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

          Hi Sue, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to auto now, it’s becoming a bit of an obsession! My first hour at the allotment today was spent experimenting with the camera! I’d like to join a class really as although I know more than I did, I still feel like I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing!! Hope to review my photos this week.

  8. rogerbrook March 17, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Loved the pic of your greenhouse and glad to hear that starting minimal cultivations is starting already to change your soil’s structure

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

      Hi Roger! Adam’s noticed the difference too and he deals with soil everyday so I think it must be the ‘less-dig’ method!! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  9. Maggie Wallace March 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Just wanted to give you another vote for possible sedum… Or did you have any lillies? My lilies by front door are just emerging, and look a little like that too. Though on looking again, I think the lilly shoots have leaves that are a little more pointy.

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

      Hello Maggie! No lillies there no. Only lavender and courgettes. So it’s a bit of a mystery. I just feel the leaves are too papery to be a sedum but my initial thoughts were that it was one and I was merely moving it when Adam suggested it was in fact a weed but he wasn’t 100%. Thanks so much for dropping by and for your comment :)

  10. Sneaky Magpie March 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    It looks like sedum or possibly aquilegia, keep it for bit longer.

    I am currently sowing a lot but a mouse keeps eating things!

    I used to use the little pellets and they were pretty much 100% successful. Good luck with the chillies, hubby is growing them too.

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

      Hello Sneaky Magpie! I’m sorry to hear about the sneaky mouse. We had one living in our shed for a while and it ate all our bird food. Thanks for the luck and I’m very pleased to announce that the chillies have started poking their heads through today :) !! Thanks for your comment.

  11. Cathy March 17, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    Great to feel that you are now on a roll with preparing for the new season, isn’t it Anna? I am looking forward to seeing your tulips in bloom – what have you planted?

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

      Hi Cathy. One of my tulips started to flower today and it looks amazing! It’s all stripey. I posted it on Instagram earlier. I have no idea exactly what all my tulips are, I literally just bought bags and bags of mixed tulips. I have some other stripey ones that I brought back from Amsterdam, they’re called Carnival de Nice and I’m really looking forward to those coming out. I have to say that tulips are one of my favourite flowers so I’ll be snapping loads of photos of them soon :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  12. Janet/Plantaliscious March 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    If you’ve been doing everything wrong, how come you got that beautiful iris shot?! Seriously though, the photography course sounds great, will you post some of the tips too?!

    Like your netting box, I have been wondering about making some for our new kitchen garden but don’t know where I’d keep them when they aren’t in use where they wouldn’t get holes in. My broad beans are only protected by twiggy sticks, but seem OK so far. How lovely to have great soil to sow in – mine is good because it is brand new, from dumpy bags, I can’t claim any brownie points for it at all. I do wish the weather would make its mind up to be consistently Spring-like now.

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      Hi Janet! Ah well, the iris shot is an interesting one, it was part of a totally different shot, it’s actually part of a display of irises in my window box but after what the tutor said the course yesterday I decided to crop it down. I’ll definitely share the tips. I’m hoping to go through all my pics and put something together this week. It takes me ages to get my photos off my camera and uploaded, it’s what holds up all the posts I would like to write!

      I find the net boxes so handy but storage is a problem if you don’t want them lying around all year. ‘Out of my shed’ posted some gorgeous hoops she’d seen at the RHS plant and design show earlier this year. They could be a good solution for you and they look prettier for a garden too. Thanks so much for dropping by and for your comment :)

      • Janet/Plantaliscious March 17, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

        I’m a big fan of a well judged crop! I saw those hoops, thanks, lovely – but pricey! Am wondering about building a frame and then stapling netting to batons and draping over the frames, advantage being I could do the same with fleece. Down side is I already feel as if I do more woodwork than gardening at the moment!

        • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

          Sounds like an innovative idea! I’ll ask Adam if he has any ideas too, he loves woodworking but always seems to end up doing it when it’s glorious weather, whereas I think this time of year is good for getting things built since there’s less gardening to do. Do you have a Wilkinsons near you? They sell some collapsible cloches, net and fleece. Very reasonably priced. The only downside is they’re open each end so ‘things’ can still get in but they’re easy to store and pretty much do the trick in terms of creating a little warm climate and fending off birds.You could try their website if you don’t have a shop nearby.

  13. Hannah March 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Our daffodils have been out for ages but we are sadly lacking in Iris’s. I keep meaning to sit down and do some proper research into spring flowering bulbs but I inevitably become distracted by something else!

    • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      Hi Hannah! I have absolutely no daffodils out! Not a single one!!?? I feel this is unusual. My irises have been out for a while now. Isn’t it strange how areas can vary so much. The best kind of research is to just buy them and grow them :) Thanks so much for your comment and for dropping by.

      • Hannah March 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

        It must definitely be an area thing, they’re all out in Ireland!

        • Anna B March 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

          You’re lucky, daffs always remind me of Easter so I hope mine flower in time!! p.s I was just looking on your blog and your baking is amazing :) The roulade looks gorgeous!

  14. Charlie@Seattle Trekker March 18, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    I really enjoyed spending time in your your garden and greenouse. The photos are amazing. Weeding and fussing with the plants at this stage is such a relaxing, zen like experience. Thank you for sharing.

    • Anna B March 18, 2013 at 7:42 am #

      Thanks Charlie! Yes it is nice to potter about, we have snow again this morning so I was lucky I had a good weekend to get out and about. Thanks for dropping by.

  15. Jo March 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Everything’s on hold still here, we’ve got snow again today. Even the broad beans are still in the greenhouse as there just isn’t time in between the bad weather to get them in the ground. Surely spring must arrive soon.

    • Anna B March 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      Hiya Jo! Snow turned to rain here, absolutely awful day!! I’m glad I got my broad beans out when I did and I think I’ll be starting everything off in pots this year just in case we don’t get better weather soon! My theory is that if I sow in pots over the next few weeks and they don’t do well, there’s still plenty of time to sow direct in April and even into May. I’m hoping for good weather next weekend or the one after so I can get my spuds in. Thanks so much for your comment Jo :)

  16. PJ March 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Your greenhouse is lovely – I am seriously envious as a greenhouse is on my wish list! Who knows what our whacky weather will bring this year so it’s a great idea to plant early in pots. Your broad beans look good :-)

    • Anna B March 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      Hello PJ girl! I love the greenhouse, I would highly recommend one! The random weather is really starting to annoy me now! I’m staying optimistic though and hoping for the best :) Thanks so much for dropping by.

  17. notjustgreenfingers March 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    I don’t think your mystery plant is a sedum, aquilegia or a lilly…I would put money on it being Lysimachia punctata. You can find details here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plant_finder/plant_pages/6866.shtml
    The roots do spread but it does look attactive if you keep it contained and it will grow in most places and is very easy to split and make new plants.

    Hope I have helped you.

    • Anna B March 19, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      Hello there! Cathy (words and herbs) thought it was a type of Lysimachia too. If that’s the case then it definitely wants to go into a better position and not where I found it, which was in the middle of my soon to be brassica bed! I’m looking forward to seeing it grow, it’s most intriguing! Thanks so much for your comment :)

  18. Ricki Grady March 19, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    I had great luck last year with those little peat pellets, and I just bought a couple of bags of replacements (the holders and dome can be reused from year to year, so after the first year it is pretty cheap). Good luck with yours!

    • Anna B March 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

      Hi Ricki! The chillies have just started coming through so all must be good with the pellets! I didn’t know they could be reused, I’ll have to remember to salvage them at the end of the season : ) Thanks for dropping by!

  19. Holleygarden March 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    Oh, this post has reminded me how far behind I am on getting my seeds started! I need to get to work! The iris photo is beautiful. I’ve used those pellets before. They were easy to use, but I didn’t like the netting surrounding them. They never seemed to break down in my garden, so the next year when I planted, I would dig up old netting. Maybe I was doing something wrong.

    • Anna B March 20, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Hello there! Ah don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time. Seedlings catch up. I was worried last year because I was getting married at the end of March and not back home until April 6th. Nothing got sowed or planted until then and everything that I deem necessary grew just fine. A few failures with courgette, pumpkin and squash but I think that was weather related more than anything else. It sounds like the little nets don’t break down and can be reused, that’s what Ricki suggests above. So I don’t think you were doing anything wrong at all. I’m not sure that recycling them will be as easy and mess free as using them from fresh though. Thanks for your comment, hearing that the pellets didn’t break down is really useful to know : )


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