Winter ends and Spring begins

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              Seeds ready and organised

Tale of a naughty cat

Returning outside after lunch I observed something which perplexed me. I could not understand how the cat could have managed to shut herself up inside the green-house, closing the door.

She was sitting on my salad growing tubs on top of the horticultural fleece covering my lettuces and crushing them.  I must have shut her in – I hadn’t missed her and I don’t suppose she had missed me either.

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        Smug cat (Poppy) sitting on my salads

Willow harvest

We planted 20 varieties of willow for basket making last year. I have just harvested a handful of stems for my first crop. I am weaving a tiny willow support for tiny plants.

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                    The willow crop                                            My weaving takes shape

‘In the green’.

Last year I toiled away for hours planting snowdrops at the bottom of the field where our neigbours have a way across. Seventy five percent of them have been dug up and eaten by badgers, leaving just a few. I will persevere and plant more now just as soon as they finish flowering and clumps can be replanted ‘in the green’ – which is the best way.

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Snowdrop (top) and badger hole (bottom)

Asparagus bed planted

Asparagus planted – now I feel really grown up. Nigel and I have always dreamed of having asparagus of our  own, how exciting . Just have to wait 2 years. And yes  – I will be trying the Ruth Stout method of dumping hay on the bed. Have chosen 12 plants, four each of Mondeo, Pacific 2000 and Guelph Millennium. (Purchased from the Telegraph Gardening Shop – the Telegraph has its uses).

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      The Telegraph Gardening Shop enabled me to buy just a few plants of each asparagus variety

Primroses for picking and the start of spring

A reminder that it was always traditional for children to gather primroses from country lanes for Mother’s Day.  On time, my primroses are out perfectly, and I picked a posy today – so sweet smelling. I have just released my youngest child into the wild and am now an empty-nester, so I have to pick my own primroses!

Whilst pottering around the veg plot I heard a familiar sound, the buzz of a bumblebee, a welcome sound of spring. Then I spotted it as it tumbled  drowsily low across the sunny bank, looking for something -maybe snowdrop, aubretia, primroses, early daffodils perhaps.

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                 Primroses – so pretty

HAY IN WINTER

Before it snowed I was still working on bringing up hay from the field which we had scythed in August. The thick  hay pile we left under the silver birch tree has already partially rotted down to something like ready made compost. It is full of life and I can see that it has been well picked over by the badgers who have been eating the worms in it.

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Winter in my garden – I wonder where the snakes are hiding now?

I am adopting the Ruth Stout method of gardening with hay. She bought her hay supplies from a farmer. In our case we have two thirds of an acre of old hay meadow, really rich in wildlife: it needs cutting every year and the hay removed to keep fertility low and encourage wild flowers. So we have started a perfectly integrated Permaculture system here whereby the hay from the field is going to provide the fertility for growing our vegetables.

In the kitchen garden I went out to get vegetables before it snowed. I dug up leeks from under their thick blanket of hay mulch, and I find they have done terribly well. They were decimated by leek moths in the summer and I did the drastic thing of cutting them all back to almost ground level with a knife. Then I mulched them with thick hay and wonderfully they have recovered.

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My leeks – under a blanket of hay and snow.

And I made soup this weekend from one of my Golden Hubbard winter squashes. It made thirty portions of delicious soup, combined with home grown leeks and some sweet potatoes from the CoOp.

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My squash larder in December. (I gave some of them away as Christmas presents.)

And sitting on the floor in front of our wood burner, all nice and cosy, eating squash soup I feel like I have landed in heaven.

2012-11-16 09.57.08Wood burner heaven!