Just pause there while I add another log of wood onto the fire, crack another beer and turn up the volume on the rugby. So satisfying to actually have something to report. Apart from finally cleaning up this building site of a house. Two vacuum cleaners put into service no less.
Gloriously sunny and dare I say it, rather warm. Not the best conditions for the massive gardening projects (list written out days ago) but nothing was going to stop me.
First it was straight up to the potting shed to sort out the peas and beans. Lots of broad beans to plant out, but more peas to be potted up and kept in their cold frame for the three weeks break. Things are germinating nicely; cabbage, salad, mizuna, peas and even the sweet peas are up. The roof is definitely working. It’s rather airy so you can’t call it a controlled warm environment, but at least the local mice haven’t yet discovered all the treasures inside.
Next it was up to the top potager to weed it thoroughly and then plant about twenty little broad bean plants. Plenty of room for them beside the asparagus and not so close that they hug the fence. I want to plant the peas up against the wire fence and use the wire as a support. That’s weeks away as the peas are much more tender compared to the fleshy leaved beans.
Next it was on with the manuring of the raspberry canes. I bought two hefty bags of horse manure from Gamm Vert in Vernoux this week as my hoped-for source of horse manure hasn’t materialized. Our neighbour Jean-Daniel has about 20 horses up at the riding school; but they are not stabled. They live outdoors all year round so don’t have an easily contained supply of manure to give to us greedy gardeners.
The three rhubarb plants still seem alive. They were given a good manuring and watering as well. It’s a great little garden. The soil is rich but very friable – is that how you describe this wondrous soil? – and is going to have plenty of potato plants in about a months time. I have the Charlottes chitting on the window sill here in the kitchen. And a bag of Pink Fir potatoes sitting in the dark cupboard. The potato crops are often blighted by the Colorado Beetle before they even get a chance to get blight but its an experiment I’m more than willing to try. We need our spuds.
I fell a few extra asparagus crowns at the garden centre at Wisley a few weeks back; so four of the critters went into the bed to make a full row. I have no idea if the row of plants are still alive. I did plant them rather early. But I have to be patient and hope all that work has not been for nowt. I do tend to prod the raspberries in a similar way. Are they more than just sticks in the ground? I had a peek at the raspberry field belonging to some neighbours on my last drive back from town. Thousands of raspberry canes in a field. And I was relieved to see that it was a field of sticks as well.
A quick trip back to the potting shed to sow some Verbascum, Cleome and Astilbes seeds, a quick tidy and then it was down to the lower vegetable bed. I actually took a few hours break as the idea of working the weeds in the warm lunchtime sun really deterred me. What a wimp; and this is only February. How on earth am I going to keep this plot weed-free and not suffer heat stroke later? Actually I found that the top vegetable bed is deeper easier to weed. And the bottom one feels a bit like scraping stone in the baked earth. I didn’t go out until 5pm. And it was perfect – cool and encouraging. When you only have a few hours of daylight left you tend to just get on and rip those weeds with gusto.
Over lunch I had a look at the designs in Joy Larkcom’s creative vegetable gardening book and came up with a daring plan. Two of the beds are already planted in soldiery rows with onions, garlic and beans. (The little beans and peas have finally sprouted and are poking up above the soil). But with the two other beds it may be time to do something a bit more architectural. We shall see. I had time to add to the row of thyme plants down the edge of the steps, and then it was dusk and no more weeding for the day.
Tomorrow I can’t wait to get out there again. There’s more weeding to do, more manuring of the lower soft fruit and that mad design to attempt.