Well, the Autumn Equinox is nearly here, and the the other traditional herald of the new gardening year happened this week - the first 2009 seed catalogues belly flopped onto the doormat. Strange how the weather has finally become Summery for more than two days in a row now that we're packing hot weather things away. Never mind. Maybe the weather is working a three year rota, and 2009 will be as sunny as 2003 and 2006 - hopefully not quite as hot as 2006 though. There's no point in the weather being too hot to move about in.
As hinted in the title, I've been wondering if the year as circle analogy is entirely right. I seems to me the peak of Summer and trough of Midwinter Solstice time, plus the way work seems to be hinged by the Equinoxes, seem to hint at more of a diamond shape. Nothing to do with jewellery, so don't worry about me. I'd still rather a pebble from a favourite beach than something sparkly and over girly.
Spent part of the day planting bulbs. A decorative pot of tulips and narcissi to brighten the front of the house when most of the herbs are dormant, and LOADS of Saffron crocus. The Saffron I planted last year yielded a few threads, which I carefully saved and used sparingly. When the plants died down I carefully lifted and stored the bulbs. On coming to replant, I realised that those bulbs had multiplied about five fold last Spring, and instead of two sparsely planted troughs, this year I have two large pots and one trough, much more closely planted, plus a seed tray of bulbs ready to transplant to a raised bed at the allotment as soon as it's ready.
Saffron is one of those plants it's easy to obsess over - sparse cropping, but made worthwhile by being expensive to buy and good to look at. At least I can get a decent amount of bulbs to replant - maybe I should keep that in mind when looking for potential cash crops.
Events of the past week have brought the need for a level of independence from the conventional commercial world to the fore again. At least action has been taken on both sides of the Atlantic to prevent total meltdown, even if it meant some of the most guilty escaped reprimand. One other positive thing to take from this is the willingness of the Bush administration to take such a huge chunk of government funds to plug that gap. Does that mean that they have accepted that Obama will will the presidency and have to clear up their mess? The last thing the world needs is any more of the evangelical inquisition. Much has been made of Sarah Palin's unsound views on women's rights, but McCain's views are just as neanderthal and damaging. I could go into more detail, but the prospect is horrifying for the whole world. Just have to think positively.
Plan to spend as much of tomorrow at the allotment. Taken some sausages out of the freezer and splashed out on a couple of tins of baked beans with ring pull tops so we don't have to break our day for lunch. Much of the day will be spent breaking ground for raised beds and levelling a spot under the trees to put the shed up, but tasks suggested by the Wartime Weekend Gardener for this week include:
Tidy the Rhubarb bed, removing any dead leaves and adding a new layer of manure mulch.
Lift any of this year's onions still in the ground. Take advantage of any remaining dry weather to harden the skins outside before storing them. If not, store them on wire racks indoors for a few days.
If you have any spare ground, start thinking about ordering some fruit bushes or trees to plant late Autumn or early Winter. Having lost a couple of apple trees in the move, this is pretty high up my list. I'd suggest looking at the Common Ground website to see if there are any Apple Day events near you in the next few weeks. I know Berrington Hall in Herefordshire are holding their Apple Day event next weekend. We went to that last year and it was excellent - a lovely walled garden packed full of apple trees and a gorgeous setting, looking out towards the Black Mountains.
Yes, I urge one and all to have fruity thoughts, this and every weekend!