Starting to spring

The weather is starting to improve and the days are lengthening. It’s time to get into the garden (or allotment in my case) and do some work. Our allotment really is neglected. It’s a good job it’s on it’s own little plot because if we had neighbours, they’d be complaining. Can you see all the beds, full of weeds and dead plants? The majority of the plot looks like that.

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But now that Babykins is at nursery, my weeks are starting to take on a new shape. I have more time to devote to gardening, something that has been low on my priority list for ooh, about eight years. Although I loved the idea of taking the children to the allotment, the reality of it probably robbed me of a lot of my enthusiasm for gardening. It just wasn’t worth the effort. Not at the preparing and planting stage anyway. They are more distractible when there is a yummy crop to harvest.

Working on our allotment brings me a mixture of feelings. When I arrive, I generally feel dismayed by the amount of work there is to do. I really don’t like looking at the whole plot and thinking about all the tasks that should be done, about how wonderful it could look. There are so many basic things that need sorting out. I am choosing to try and focus on small, achievable targets.

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A couple of weeks ago, on a fabulously sunny, still day, I dug out all the remaining potatoes and cleared the bed that they were in. They are not great potatoes but I’ve been doing my best to be thrifty and use them up, despite the amount of slug damage they’ve got. Babykins actually helped me out on this occasion. He is actually quite happy helping out on our plot. In fact, I should really get him a few new tools, his spade is falling apart. It was such a glorious day that once Babykins was at nursery, I decided to go back for a couple more hours.

IMG_9162The sky really did look like this. Perfect. On days like this, the joy of gardening is easy to find.

IMG_9187I had a clear growing area so I planted a row of broad beans and a row of peas and covered them with horticultural fleece. Who knows if they will grow. The ground is probably too cold and wet and the fleece practically blew away shortly after but it made me feel that I was ahead of the game.

This week, I managed another short spell at my plot. Just an hour in the sunshine with no need for a coat as I dug and weeded. Digging and weeding, satisfying things to do. Tasks that give instant gratification. In a short space of time you can transform a messy looking area into a patch of neat, dark earth.

IMG_9308And no matter how many times I get out my fork and do some digging and weeding, I still enjoy seeing what turns up.

IMG_9306 A parsnip that must have self seeded…

IMG_9300 An extremely bright caterpillar (or grub – I don’t know)…

IMG_9305and earthworms. I never get bored of digging up earthworms, especially the big, fat juicy ones. They should be a reflection of the health of the soil so finding them gives me hope for a good crop later in the year.

There are other things to appreciate on the allotment at the moment.

IMG_9328 Drifts of snowdrops.

IMG_9317A solitary rose.

IMG_9314Rhubarb shooting up, getting bigger by the day.

So although looking at my plot as a whole can make my heart sink, looking at tiny parts of it makes my heart sing. At this time of year, when not much is growing, I can even enjoy the flowering weeds for a short time.

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What a difference a week makes…

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IMG_1819These photos were taken last Saturday. The snow didn’t last more than a few hours but it was a reminder that despite the new shoots appearing we are still in winter. Strange to thing we were paddling at the beach just seven days before.

The Promise of Spring

We called into our allotment yesterday. It has been somewhat neglected in the last few months. This is not good. In the next few weeks we should start planting the seeds for the new season. There is a LOT of work to do before we can begin.

At least the children showed plenty of enthusiasm for digging their patch over.

There was all the usual excitement over the first worm to be dug up (poor worm).

Wallace was let out of the shed to do his duty as the door stop. If only he could actually provide tea.

We have had quite a good sprout harvest. Sadly, we should probably have picked a lot more of them by now.

I planted a whole row of cabbage seeds way back last spring. I didn’t do a very good job of marking where they were though. When they started to germinate, I couldn’t work out what was cabbage and what was weed. I didn’t have this problem with any of my other seeds so I assumed none  had grown. So I got a surprise when I spotted this:

Just goes to show how long it has been since I was gardening.

Our purple kale has been standing for well over a year. It looked like it had some new shoots on it so we nibbled a few raw leaves. It’s surprisingly tasty that way. The biggest surprise of all is that Son Number One declared both the raw and cooked versions to be ‘yummy’. I don’t think this photo  really does justice to the colour.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find some shoots on the purple sprouting broccoli. There will be MUCH more of this in the next few weeks. These seeds really took off. I foolishly planted three whole rows last summer. The Husband got the job of separating them out from the original clumps of seedlings. He took great delight in telling me I had overdone it by about 40 too many plants. It will make a change from a courgette glut.

Guess what was on the menu for our supper last night. It was a veritable feast of brassicas (and toad in the hole).

There are plenty of reminders around that we are only just leaving winter behind……

For example, this is what remains of last summer’s runner beans.

But spring is certainly on the way.

I can’t wait to eat our first rhubarb of the season. Maybe next year we should try to ‘force’ some, buying forced rhubarb is very expensive. We’ve got the right variety ‘Timperly Early‘. Again, I don’t think this photo does justice to the beautiful colour and texture of the unfurling leaves. There is so much spring promise in them.


The Colours of My Day

As much as I loved the colours I used in my crochet last week, they were too busy for my bedroom. I have since realised that they are my ‘downstairs’ colours. What I really wanted was something to go with my bedroom curtains. Something in these more restful tones of green and pale blue.

So over the weekend, I got busy with this different palette of colours. I even managed to do a little bit of crocheting at the local craft group this morning while Babykins dozed in his pram.

So far, I’m quite pleased with the results.

After the craft club, Babykins and I went off to Grandma’s house for a bit of lunch. Grandma being Grandma, Babykins got a lot of encouragement in his climbing endeavours…..

I’m sure I can do this

Yes, just stretch a bit more

Getting there

Enjoying the new view

Ooooh, look Mum, I DID do it!

Ah, Grandmas. Always teaching such useful skills. Oh well, we had one happy baby.

After all that climbing, we went out for a little bit of a garden inspection. Grandma has been busy spring cleaning her greenhouse ready for the new season. Babykins thought it was marvellous to be able to toddle about all over the (wet) grass. Summer is going to be so much fun for him and a time of constant worry for me.

I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps of the snowdrops. It’s a shame they are only camera phone pictures as I’d have loved to have the macro lens from the good ol’ Canon Ixus.

and it’s not even February yet….

Looking back at these photos it seems there’s a bit of a colour theme going on today. What do you think?