Saturday, 3 May 2008

Get on with it!

Well - that was a let down. Got home last night to the news that Boris Johnson had beaten Ken Livingstone to be London Mayor. Now, many of Ken's policies and alliances were questionable, but quite frankly the imperfect politician is far better than an untrustworthy buffoon. Let's just hope the one gaffe too far happens early and he's forced to resign.

So from here on in it's heads down get on with ensuring some economy free stability - growing stuff down the allotment, preserving that produce, making cheese and baking. And getting the back garden laid out in such a way that we can start keeping a few hens. The shade bed at the bottom of the garden is filling out and looking gorgeous - I really must try to post some photos. The Wood Anemome corms I planted in pots last year have grown well, but so far have only yielded one flower. At least they're the right plant. Annoyingly, the extra English Bluebell bulbs I bought last year have come up Spanish and will have to go.

Apologies for the late arrival of the blog this week. Spent yesterday preparing for a busy Bank Holiday weekend, and most of today starting the tasks we had planned. All this in spite of the scourge of Spring - hayfever. Being surrounded by beautiful mature trees is great, but for the weeks when they shed their pollen. I tried to fight the exploding sinus syndrome using natural remedies, but nothing seemed to do the job adequately, so I'm back of prescription meds. It's only a couple of weeks anyway.

In a matter of a few days I have seen the first ducklings on the lake, the first elder flowers and today I heard Swifts overhead. It had bothered me that I hadn't seen Swallows or House Martins, but now I know that this area is predominately Swift habitat I understand why. Last year's weather wasn't good for Swifts, which explains why I don't recall seeing any when we moved in.

As I said, Spring gathers apace and there are plenty of tasks to be getting on with in the garden. Even though May Day is a recent Bank Holiday, the Wartime Weekend Gardener's agenda for the first weekend on May could easily take three days:

Plant out Maincrop Potatoes. As mentioned previously, I'm way behind this year, but Desiree, Golden Wonder and Pink Fir Apple, should be in the ground very soon.

Sow Maincrop Peas. Well, I plan to sow another batch of peas this week, and I'll be going with Hurst Green Shaft, more an Early Maincrop variety, but that should be enough to provide us with peas for the freezer.

Plant out Mint and sow other herbs. The mint I planted in a pot to keep outside the front door didn't die back in the Winter, so I had a few tough leaves to use while I was waiting for fresh new growth. I'll probably divide that plant and transfer some to the herb bed at the allotment, but it will stay in a pot, sunk in the soil, or else the herb bed will become a mint bed. Time to sow more tender herbs, such as Basil, as well.

Sow more French Beans. Yes - the weather is mild enough now to sow some of my precious Cherokee Trail of Tears beans, plus a few more varieties to provide fresh and dried beans - Borlotto, some yellow beans and some pencil thin green beans for hot salads.

Sow Beetroot. Cheese and Beetroot sarnies - so bad they're good. I also like whole (unpickled) baby beetroot in casseroles. I've already got a couple of varieties - Boltardy and the wonderfuly stripey Barbietola di Chioggia - on the go, but an extra row every few weeks is a good idea.

Sow marrows in pots. Add to that courgettes, pumpkins and squashes. And sweetcorn. I've been using the Three Sisters planting scheme - beans, sweetcorn and squashes - as part of my rotation system for a few years now. I couldn't tell you if the plants do better grown together, but it uses the allocated space well, takes the right amount of time for these crops and it looks good.

There's something very inspiring about a well planted wig wam.

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