We’re gradually claiming the garden back from weed and junk and now have a good sized lawn to run about on, most areas free from rubbish and, ignoring a big pile of topsoil due to be shifted, a place we can sit out and enjoy good weather. I’d actually written off the idea of getting any food from the garden this year as the last patch of weed and rock covered wilderness at the back is earmarked for the veg patch. However, thanks to the greenhouse, some peasticks from our friend’s woodland and some plants which seem to have forgiven me for my rather irregular watering habits, we should have at least some of the following: basil, borlotti beans, squash, tomatoes and strawberries. It’s a start, anyway.
>I feel for prisoners of old who had to sew sacks. I’ve been trying it out recently- sewing hessian sacks using old fashioned garden twine and it’s shredded my fingers. The reason for doing it was not because I was doing time, but rather to make up the Scarecrow Kit from Hen and Hammock we were given as a Christmas present. As we’re currently seeding a new area of lawn, we put ‘Jeff’ (for some reason P decided to name him after his Godfather) to use straight away, keeping the birds away, we hope, and holding the hosepipe as we gave the seeds a good soak.
While Jeff was doing his job outside, I was clearing out the greenhouse. This is a job I’ve been meaning to do since we moved here last year, as I was so excited about having a greenhouse. Things (usually child-related!) got in the way and I’ve only just found the time to get in there. I filled two rubbish sacks with old trays and pots made brittle by UV exposure, discarded packets and weedkiller botttles, saving what was worth using again. I love the ‘make do and mend’-ness of gardening.
As outdoor growing space is still only ‘on the list’ rather than a reality this years sowing has been mainly stuff that will stay in the greenhouse: a selection of tomatoes which have gone in late but hopefully will do okay; strawberries, which I cheated and bought as plantlings; herbs including basil, oregano, sage, parsley, coriander and sage; butternut squash which will end up outside (somewhere!); borlotti beans that P sewed with my mum when we visited her and which will also need a home outside and sunflowers to squeeze in somewhere, grown from seeds sent to P and M by my sister.
After a long weekend away of glorious sunshine, family, friends, barefoot running in the garden and a trip on a steam train through the forest, the weather today is reminding us that Spring is a fickle creature. It’s grey, damp and chilly, but we’re not having our enthusiasm for the season squashed that easily. For the next post or so I’m going to write about how we’re celebrating and anticipating the return of the sun.
Today- planting. We have word that sowing is well under way at the farm, despite an expected influx of new gimmer sheep coming with unexpected baggage- unborn lambs! We thought that a bit of sowing was in order here too. I had hoped that this Spring we’d be getting a full on vegetable garden underway, but I’d reckoned without a new house that generates a lot of jobs, two babies that also generate a lot of jobs, plus a garden that needs a lot of stripping back and tidying up. So this year the priority is to get rid of lots of the concrete and paving, get rid of all the junk that’s stuffed behind various structures, establish a compost heap, extend the amount of grass there is, construct a hen run (and get more hens!) and get the veg patch cleared and prepared so we can either put a green manure in over winter, or maybe get some winter crop veggies.
Just a few jobs then- and it’s not as if the house is by any means finished! Anyway, in the meantime, in the sunshine of last week we planted the sunflower seeds Aunty Katy had sent for P, because we can pop them in a corner somewhere once they’re big enough. P loved the kinaesthetic experiences of handling the seeds, dibbing holes in the soil, poking in one seed at a time, sprinkling on water…I think we could have seeded a whole field of sunflowers! If we get some success we can save the seed heads for birds next winter- maybe even for the hens.
Hopefully the humans round here won’t be completely deprived of veg from the garden, either. While at my parent’s at the weekend, P continued his gardening education by planting some borlotti beans to bring home with us. If I get around to having a sort out in the greenhouse and installing some tomato plants, there’ll be some soup on the go!
The garden at our new place is a crazy patchwork of grass, paving, outbuildings and general stuff really. We love it for the space it provides and the potential it offers for vegetable growing, new chickens, a children’s garden (complete with saucepan ‘banging wall’, inspired by The Creative Family) and no doubt more plans yet to be dreamed up. At the moment, however, with other priorities to consider inside the house, I am contenting myself with wandering around discovering just what is there and gradually deciding what we’ll keep, what we’ll reuse and what we’ll get rid of…here in no particular order are some examples- you decide!
>Definitely, definitely much gratitude for sunshine and warmer weather. As well as lifting the spirits it’s also really opened up our ‘outdoor classroom’ (not that we’re exactly aiming on education with a nearly-two-year-old, but every day is learning when you’re that size!)
So we’ve had music…at Grizedale Forest, where he’s finally got the hang of banging on the different sized wood blocks to get different sounds…
Imaginative play and a bit of Botany as he and his little pal discover ‘treasure’ in the form of pine cones, dry leaves and sticks in their own den at Tarn Hows…where a certain amount of Science came in too (from a stream to sticky mud, where does liquid become solid? And what happens if you sit in it, or go in deeper than your wellies?)
Back home, another warm evening saw a little Horticulture- the home move is still up in the air, but wherever we are this summer there will surely be space for pots and tubs of tomatoes, courguettes and squash…
…and lastly some Cookery, as we had our first outdoor-cooked meal of the year- not our first meal eaten outdoors though! That honour must go to some slightly chilly picnics while on walks.