There is a presence on the plot. An evil on the wind. Shadows gather, knowing, waiting. Continue reading “Halloween Horrors”
The Waiting Game
Agent Soph will be the first to tell you, patience and I don’t sit well together, we’re not the greatest of allies. If there’s something to be done, why wait? Yet patience is a tool all gardeners need in their kit bags. You can’t plant your Maris Pipers in the morning and expect to have a sackful to take home for Sunday’s roast. You can’t tell a sprout to get a move on, it just won’t work.
Yet right now, all across the land, gardeners are asking that crucial question: when shall I plant out?
This year, I’m stretching myself a little by playing the waiting game. Sat in my map room (polytunnel), I’m plotting and planning. I won’t be rushed! On Instagram, there are daily updates of people sowing seeds on their allotments. On garden blogs, gardeners talk of wheeling out their Banana Trees from the greenhouse, unwrapping them and planting them out. But I won’t succumb to this media pressure. Have these people taken leave of their senses?!?
Yes, we’re enjoying moments of spring sunshine, but don’t be fooled. She’s a fickle one that Mother Nature, no sooner have you donned your flip flops, shorts and sunnies, she’s cranked up the wind machine and sent Jack Frost to do the rounds one more time.
With the polytunnel in full swing, I can afford to grow my plants on a bit, get them larger and stronger. There’s no rush. For those who don’t have the luxury of a polytunnel or greenhouse, I feel your frustration. I remember the days of balancing pots on windowsills, or supporting them on on towels in airing cupboards. I remember being in a constant state of tension, worrying that my precious seedlings would become leggy. That’s no way for a gardener to live.
Do allotments partake in polytunnel sharing, I wonder? If not we should. We could set up polytunnels across unused plots and these gardeners could groupshare. Costs would be cheaper, there would always be someone around to keep an eye on plants. Maybe have a rota system for watering. Getting to know your neighbour and bringing a community closer together. That’s what we want, isn’t it?
OK, maybe I’ve gone all William Wallace for a moment, but I’m still one of you. I haven’t entirely boycotted the planting, my potatoes are in and I’ve sown both my carrots and parsnips.
But the truth is, I’m a little nervous. Last year my onion crop succumbed to the dreaded onion fly. They’d only been in the ground for a few weeks and the whole crop was ruined. Alliums do suffer on our site. My garlic always suffers from rust, no matter how far apart I plant them for maximum ventilation. We’re only into April and my garlic leaves already have small patches of the dreaded rust.
I know, I’m acting like an over-protective father, but I brought these vegetables into the world! Is it wrong I only want the best for them?
Maybe it’s time to let a few of them go. The next sunny morning we have, I’ll find them a good plot to go to. They’ll be happy.
I remember when I could still cradle them in my hands.. they grow up so fast!
The Ultimate Parsnip
It seems there’s never enough time to get all those allotment jobs done. You spend all week planning how to get the most out of those precious weekends on the plot, that when it comes round and tasks are completed, several more are only too keen to rear their eager heads. But that’s what gardening is, a continuous cycle. We do, we learn, we move on.
For me, it was a weekend of turning soil, sowing seeds in the polytunnel, warming beds and chopping and digging over the green manure.
However, something I am doing a little differently this year is germinating my parsnip seeds at home in a propagator. I always find parsnip seeds are a bugger to get going. Once they’re off, it’s a different matter. Although the finished result can come in a multitude of unusual shapes and sizes, they still taste great. So now I’ve challenged myself to grow the ultimate parsnip.
It took a week for the seeds to germinate, but with their first shoots emerging, I took them up to the allotment.
On the plot I decided to create holes with the dibber then backfill with sifted soil, place the germinated seed on top and lightly cover. I could be way off the mark here but my thinking is, a clean route down will mean less encounters with stones thus preventing forking. Who knows? I’m committed now and the quest for the ultimate parsnip has begun. Wish me well as I set sail on the voyage of parsnip discovery. However, if you can keep a secret, there’s another project I’ve been working on, locked away in my garden shed. But before I return, under the cover of darkness to proceed with my covert operation, I wanted to share some pictures of my wallflowers and our sole Fritillaria meleagris ‘Snakes Head’.