Monday, 16 February 2009

It's too early

This was the veg garden last week.

R made those beds for me. It was February when we started the project. We had the bright idea of hiring a mini-digger and cleared all the turf and topsoil from the entire area to a depth of about 6 inches. He then built the beds, designing them so I could easily negotiate them with a wheelbarrow, but ensuring they were narrow enough to allow me to weed easily. Brilliant idea!

Then he moved on to the next project. Leaving me to barrow every ounce of topsoil back into the beds. Do you know how much soil a 20' x 3' x 8" raised bed holds?
Me neither. But it is a lot.

The snow has now thawed, but it is still far too early to sow anything outside. I dug up some parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes and the last of the carrots. 2008 was an appalling year for growing, but I had covered my maincrop carrots with fleece in an effort to counteract the root fly. It was largely successful, but the carrots were very much on the small side. Still there were enough to store on trays for another day.

Digging up the last roots triggers sowing time for me. It is a visceral thing - with the lengthening of the days, my thoughts inevitably turn to the new year's crops. By now, I have ordered my seeds and tubers for the new year. For years, this period has been a time of frustration. You can only spend so many weekends washing pots in anticipation of sowing. But now, after so many years without, I have a greenhouse, which means I can allow myself a little premature sowing frenzy. The heated propagator on my windowsill now contains: spring cabbage 'Hispi', cutting celery, lettuce 'Freckles', 'Chartwell', 'Nymans' and 'Salad Bowl Mixed'. I also sowed a tub of carrots 'Early Nantes' and a length of guttering with peas 'Twinkle'.

It was a roots sort of day, so supper this evening consisted of leg steak of Evil Ram (Hebridean x Black Welsh Mountain) with a large portion of herb-roasted roots. This was not terribly photogenic, but tasted much better than it looked.

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