The Skylarks are up and singing! It’s time for marking out a territory, and for attracting a mate; yes the sap is rising friends. I love scanning the sky in search of the source of that distinctive birdsong, you can look for some time without spotting the avian chorister, and then….boom, there it is, in precisely the spot that you had stared at several times previously. Once it is visible you can track it relatively easily, as long as you don’t blink, because if you do it will miraculously disappear before your very eyes like the glamourous assistant of a stage illusionist. If you can fix the bird in your gaze you may well be treated to seeing it parachute down to the ground in jerky stages. Around here we have a good population of them, and we are particularly lucky to be able to see and hear them from our garden as they flutter above the arable field directly behind us. Sadly I don’t see them at Moyns Park because the terrain is not right for them – too much grassland and woodland.

And still the weather looms large over activities at the garden; the wind has been relentless (well more or less) for more than two weeks now, and just as it’s beginning to dry out another dollop of rain deposits itself on already waterlogged ground. I was fairly relaxed about it until now, but the realisation that it’s March this time next week is getting me twitchy, because things need to start happening – cultivating, muck/compost spreading, clearing of spent crops, raspberry canes to cut down, preparation of seed beds, and countless other tasks. I can’t afford to go on my heavy ground while the conditions are like this, so I must be patient and hope that it all comes right.

The wrecked machine shelter has lain untouched for a week, I will wait until the wind abates before trying to raise the phoenix from the ashes. A re-think of its construction is required, because I don’t want this to happen every time a Force 9 blows through; actually, with my building skills a stiff sou’wester would probably be sufficient to make it fold like a pack of cards!

At least the polytunnel remains intact, and in the mild conditions and with ever increasing daylight hours, the crops within it are putting on rapid growth. Perpetual spinach, chard and spring greens are all responding well to the favourable growing environment, and even the kale is recovering from hard cutting earlier on. In the greenhouse there is more chard, and last week I planted some Pak Choi, rows of radishes and rocket directly sown from seed fill the rest of the beds. I didn’t need to employ the blusher brush to the peach blossom, because during the week a big round bumblebee has been bimbling from bloom to bloom distributing pollen more efficiently than I ever could.

This week’s veg list looks like this: baking potatoes, Cara potatoes, Pink Fir Apple salad potatoes, onions, carrots, swede, parsnips, sweet potato, beetroot, leeks, red cabbage, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, chard, flower sprout tops (not unlike kale), and Savoy cabbage. Your out of season tempter is courgette, just for a bit of a change. Much of last week’s broccoli was of a poor quality, so I am holding off on that until it improves. The oranges are aesthetically not things of great beauty, but they taste good, and there are some large lemons, and kiwi fruit.

A couple of weeks ago I told you about my robbing Robin stealing mealworms from the bag, well this week he surpassed himself when he pinched some cheese from my lunchbox! he’s a cheeky chappie, and clearly likes a bit of Cheddar. the other thing that he has been doing in recent days, and it probably relates to the time of year, is singing to me in the shed. It’s a very soft and melodic song, and at first I thought that the sound was coming from outside, but no, he perches close by and sings sweetly to me. I’m getting rather too emotionally attached to the little fella, but only the hardest of hearts could resist him…..and I am well and truly under his bewitching spell..

So from next year our super-green government has decided to ban the sale of bagged coal and wet wood for open fires and wood burning stoves in an attempt to address CO2 emissions. Now I get the coal thing to some extent, but wet wood? Who in their right minds wants to burn wet wood on their fires anyway? And how is it going to be policed? Dominic Cummings has come up with a cracker here; forget about violent crime, fraud, burglary, rape and other serious offences, we are going to target wet logs! Genius. So expect a knock on the door after dark, “we have a warrant to search your log basket”. Be afraid, be very afraid.

And on that ludicrous note I wish you a good week.

Phil

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