Tuesday 16th February 2016

Getting started was hard. Literally.

With the thermometer in the greenhouse dipping to -5 overnight it must have been even lower outside, and the planned ground was frozen so hard we couldn’t get a fork into it. However the sun was shining in a clear blue sky, so it was only a matter of time before things softened up.

In the meantime, there was one spot that hadn’t frozen. An old bonfire patch, piled with ash and assorted debris, covered with a thick thatch of couch grass and nettle roots was soft enough. It has been earmarked for a while as the “exotic” plot. We were given and planted a Bee Bee tree (oriental, Tetradium daniellii) over a year ago which has thrived. We plan to grow some bamboo as well – some straight canes hopefully, to complement the not-always-so-straight hazel sticks and poles we coppice. We need to identify a bamboo which will grow happily here, produce useable canes, and isn’t too invasive. The plot will be surrounded by a mown path just to help keep everything in check. With any luck we will get some edible shoots too.
Oh – and a panda.

It being school half-term, we were “blessed” with the help of our three youngsters. They did succeed in setting out three lots of parsnip seeds on small squares of damped tissue paper to germinate before sowing. (This is a new-to-us technique recommended by a fellow Shropshire Organic Gardener – aiming to avoid the thick-then-gaps that parsnips seem to come up with.) Then they fell out. So we had tea and biscuits and a game of draughts which didn’t help with the falling out. Then two of them disappeared. We now have a very meticulously excavated hole in the middle of the exotic bed. For burying sisters, apparently. Or maybe for planting bamboo, we suggested.

After lunch things had thawed. We carried on working through the eighth vegetable bed which will be fallow next year. The plan is to get out perennial pernicious weeds, sow with rye/vetch green manure and then try windrow composting on the plot to capture all the nutrients that run off – usually into the garden corners where compost bins/ heaps are often sited. It’s another experiment.

Finally we planted another couple of bulbs of Solent Wight garlic which we picked up at the recent Potato Day. Where we also bought 470 seed potato tubers – all now set to chit in egg trays in the vegetable store. Now there’s a job-and-a-half to look forward to!

But for now – get the parsnip seeds into a warmer spot in the house – and soak those muscles that are just beginning to realise that aching Spring gardening work is upon us.

In shaded places the frost hasn’t thawed all day.

Did I say Spring?

Tuesdays in the Triangle Field (Community Supported Market Garden) are busy, sociable, friendly, relaxed, productive. Volunteers are made welcome, fed, watered and rewarded with produce. Let us know if you would like to join us either regularly, occasionally or just for a one-off pleasure.

Tel. 01743 761418 email: crabapplecom@hotmail.com

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