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 itĀ couldĀ 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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52 Weeks of Happy : 28/52 and 29/52

The last three weeks have been full of the most summery of summer weather. I have been determined not to complain about being too hot, even though I have occasionally felt like wilting. I think this photo sums it up: sun suits and bathing costumes hanging out to dry after seeing a splashing good time in the paddling pool.

IMG_7568All these blue skies and warm temperatures have made the verges and hedgerows bloom. This is the view that greets you as you walk up the path to RSPB Saltholme, here on Teesside. Ok, they are ‘weeds’ but they are beautiful when grown like this. Not so beautiful in my allotment. I’ve been trying really hard to get there every day to water the greenhouse tomatoes and the newly planted pumpkins. The harvest is really starting to take off now. It’s hard to keep up, but hopefully more of that later.

IMG_7675Last Monday I was lucky enough to be out at the right time of night to see this fabulously colourful sunset. The omen ‘Red sky at night, shepherds delight’ was indeed true. The next day was another belting-hot, blue-sky day.

IMG_7692There has been a LOT of barbecue cooking during the last few weeks. Both at home and at my Mum’s house where the next picture was taken. This picture has a lot of happy things rolled into it.

Number 1: It’s barbecue weather – need I say more?

Number 2: The Husband is doing the cooking – again, need I say more?

Number 3: Can you spot the glass of gin and tonic? I had one of those too. Happy happy.

Number 4: The family heirloom arum lilies are flowering. This patch of lilies was taken from my Great Aunt’s home in Dorset quite a few years ago now. I can’t remember if it was before she died or at the time, when the house was sold. Either way, it’s almost 20 years ago. My Dad’s siblings all took a chunk of the plant and every year the Dorset branch of the family takes great pleasure in telling us theirs are in bloom weeks before ours are, here in the frozen north. They are such a dramatic flower, one that I often associate with funerals actually, but when I see them in my Mum’s garden, I think of happy childhood holidays with family in Poole and my funny, broad Dorset-speaking Great Aunt. Oooooh-Aaarrrgh (as she might say).

IMG_7742Finally, call me a softie (I don’t care) I’ve really enjoyed the lovely news of the birth of the royal baby. It certainly takes you back to your own births. I found myself washing up yesterday morning and silently sending a few positive thoughts to The Duchess. It doesn’t matter who you are, giving birth and becoming a parent is an amazing experience. As much as I’ve been glued to the TV coverage, I sincerely hope they get some privacy now to get to grips with their new role.