I spent two days of hard labour last week digging thistles and comfrey from a section in the bottom half of the garden, removing trailer loads of debris from the site where the sweetcorn and winter squash will grow. Both of those perennial, persistent and invasive plants are a real problem to eradicate when you are using organic growing methods; it’s a matter of dig and hoe until you have exhausted them, before they exhaust you. In both cases a tiny piece of root that you miss has the potential to become a new plant, so it’s a long-term labour to rid the plot of them. To be honest, as a one man operation that ain’t gonna happen, I would be about as successful as King Canute (AKA Cnut the Great) was at holding back the tide, so it’s down to damage limitation.
Anyway, the temporarily cleared patch of land now has nearly 300 sweetcorn and 240 squash plants populating it. I have some pumpkins still to get in, but I’ve got to clear another patch for them, and to be honest they are not my top priority.
The change in weather has provided some respite; whilst the sunny summer weather is lovely, these are far more comfortable working conditions, and we have even had a little bit of rain – not enough, but better than none at all. The overcast conditions mean that watering in the polytunnel and greenhouse is less urgent, and I am able to work in both of those structures for an extended period without fainting from heat exhaustion (I’m not one for being over dramatic). Having said all of that, I miss sitting under my apple tree for lunch in my shirt sleeves, so a few more degrees wouldn’t go amiss…..with a drop of rain overnight.
This week will be the last for asparagus; I might be able to get it for another week or two but we ought to try to keep it special, so I won’t be making my foray into deepest fenland for a while after Wednesday. While I am there I will pick up some more Tenderstem® broccoli, but that will be the last of it. My own broccoli should be ready in a few weeks time, and it will be every bit as tender I reckon. I will be cutting pointed cabbages, and there will be a very limited quantity of broad beans. This is from the autumn sowing that was decimated by the crows and pheasants, so there really aren’t that many; order early to secure a bag. I am going to lifting kohlrabi too this week, once again it is limited, as are the large Romaine lettuces (Cos to the old timers). Carrots, courgette, large beetroot, onions, ginger, garlic, mushrooms and old potatoes complete the veg list. Small lemons, oranges and limited kiwi fruit will be available. At the time of writing I have not been able to source any tomatoes, but if I manage to I will let you know; which reminds me, don’t forget to pay for the toms that you had last week.
At this time in two weeks I should be on my annual holiday to Cornwall, but that’s not going to happen. I’m going to miss sitting looking out across the bay whilst sipping a cup of coffee in the morning, I will miss my cheese and onion pasties, my pint of draught ‘Tribute’ in the Plume of Feathers, and clotted cream ice creams from Callestick Farm. I will also miss putting my feet up for a week, and squealing like a girl as the icy cold sea reaches close to my waist, and chasing after Nellie on the beach as she invades other people’s picnics, and clifftop walks, but maybe we can do it later in the year….I wonder?
If you would like something gentle to listen to, I highly recommend ‘The Poet Laureate has gone to his shed’, which you can find on BBC Sounds. I have worked my way through the series so far, and have really enjoyed the chats that Simon Armitage has with his guests; some are better than others, but all have been worth listening to. If you haven’t already, you should really explore the world of podcasts, there is so much interesting stuff available, on every topic you can imagine, and it beats habitually watching the telly box.
I have had no memorable wildlife encounters in the week past, and I’ve got a dose of writers block, so I’m going to call it a day and wish you a very good week.