Chooks & Cooks

Chooks & Cooks

Food, Foraging & Adventures from the Heart of England

Snow in April: Lessons and Casualties

Inclement. That’s the only word for it. Well, that and strange, weird, apocalyptic, bloody infuriating… OK, it turns out I could go on! What am I talking about? The weather of course.

April is unpredictable in the UK – there’s a reason we talk about April showers! From one minute to the next you can have bright sunshine whilst you think about weather you can break out your pale, wintry legs, and then all of a sudden you’re drenched in 4 solid hours of sideways downpour. It’s just what miserable, blustery April is about.

Except this year the great, all-powerful weather gods have decided rain and wind ain’t enough. We’ve had, at regular intervals, rain, sun, snow (yes, actual snow!), humungous hail showers, frosts, and days so warm you want to sunbathe.

When the weather was good it seemed like spring was well and truly settled, so I planted a number of plants out. In all honesty, I was running out of greenhouse space and perhaps didn’t wait quite long enough. But, that said, I didn’t expect temperatures to suddenly swing down to 3 degrees (C). I could blame the arctic wind, but instead I’m choosing to blame the entire universe. Fair enough, right?

As you may have guessed, the chill bought with it a casualty, in fact 5 casualties. My mixed courgette plants, grown from seed and perhaps loved a little too much (who in their right minds gets attached to plants, I used to think) are wilted and look to me like the frost has well and truly killed them – I’d say cell walls and everything have broken down with this one! Annoyingly two weren’t even planted out but I’d forgotten to take them back into the greenhouse. So, that’s back to the beginning with them – do I re-purchase or replant, or buy very ordinary courgette types (these were spherical and in mixed colours) to replace them?

Frost damaged courgette plants

As well as the frost, I moved my sprouts to their final resting place yesterday evening – they’ve been outdoors for ages and are fully hardened, so now I’ve turned over and composted our thoroughly clay-filled soil it was time to move them. I noticed the interest the chickens were paying ¬†straight away (note the glass used to defend in the picture below!), but even I hadn’t imagine they’re squeeze most of their bodies through the chicken wire to reach almost a foot to the succulent sprout leaves!

But… they did. It seems such tasty greenery is worth potential strangulation! It’s not too much of a worry as there are plenty of sprout plants and I only have limited room anyway, but it’s certainly impressive. I might see if they survive, but I suspect I’ll be digging them up this weekend and sacrificing them to the crazy chickens anyway. Nothing like positive reinforcement.

The chickens ate my sprout seedlings!

Have you had any casualties in this odd April weather?

Before I go, there does seem to be some positive weather. The radishes have been growing very slowly due to the conditions, but some of them are starting to bulge, finally. I had just about concluded that they’d had too much food and were focusing on leaf growth – but we may get a radish or two yet! Do you think there’s hope?

Radish plants beginning to bulb

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