Friday, 20 March 2009

The Year Turns Another Corner

Last time I posted, we were stuck at home because the roads were too icy to travel. At the time it felt like the cold weather was here to stay, and I feared another year of being held back by the weather. The snowdrops in the garden were a good month late in flowering, and the pond froze so deep that come the thaw we had to dispose of two hibernating frogs that had unwittingly been cryogenically preserved at the bottom.

A few weeks down the line, and the Spring Equinox is upon us. The Canada Geese at the lake have started flying round in honking squadrons at dawn and dusk, the woodpackers have been drumming and the Magpies have been adding another precarious layer to last year's nest. After the cold weather delaying even the snowdrops, it seems that in the past fortnight Spring has not so much sprung as pounced. The main road through the estate has come alive with a primary colour mix of Mimosa blossom, Ceanothus buds and Photinia leaves. Last Sunday was so warm I spotted the first butterflies of the year, a Brimstone, Red Admiral and a Tortoiseshell.

Because I don't have a proper greenhouse, I held off seed sowing until last weekend, but now this have got underway with a vengance. After regular Saturday errands, I plan to spend the afternoon in the potting shed, starting off as many of the hardier crops and flowers.

We had a little shock at the allotment, though we weren't around to see the actual event. As the snow and ice melted, the run off from the woods and the golf course next to the allotment poured into the brook which provides a boundary to the site. The amount of melt water was enough to cause the brook to break its bank for the first time in several years, and part of the allotment site was flooded, including a corner of our plot. By the time we visited, the waters had receded, and we though that vandalism was the cause of the collapse of our woodpile. Although a little alarming, we were relieved to hear the real reason for the disruption. I'm planting more Willow cuttings at the bottom corner of the plot, which bore the brunt of the flooding.

We've spend the past couple of weekends digging and moving the heeled in fruit trees and bushes. The bottom edge is now edged with Gooseberries, punctuated with Apple and Pear trees. This has left me with more space elsewhere to plant fruit, and thus an excuse to get more - including Cider Apple trees. Expensive in the short term, but in the long run they'll pay for themselves and hopefully prove to be our legacy to future growers.

We'll be concentrating in preparing the potato patch this weekend, and hopefully we'll have the first and second earlies in by Easter, with the Maincrops in come May Day. On a more self-indulgent note, we put a small counter top in the shed last week, below the window, which will serve as a cooking, eating, writing and lookout spot.

This weekend, my errand running on Saturday will include a visit to the fancy interior design shop on Winchmore Hill Green to buy paint to do the inside of the shed. Indulgent maybe, but have spent an hour sitting watching a sleet downpour with a ready supply of tea & biccies, it has once again been proven that a comfy shed is not just an optional extra!