…even when you’re feeling warm
the temperature can drop away
like four seasons in one day.
Not my line, but Neil Finn’s. Crowded House were singing about New Zealand of course but the lyric is also true of the English springtime. Last week was sun, this week there is snow. Spring comes late to our patch of earth anyway and I still have pots of daffodils yet to bloom; it was a genuine surprise last weekend to visit the Welsh borders and see roadsides and gardens awash with yellow. The party is all happening elsewhere, it seems. And yet, earlier this week, it was warm enough to play outside in the garden, and Harry and I had a good close-up look at the bees as they visited Granny’s primroses. Three days later it was sleeting.
The few days of warm made me turn my nose towards Evesham. Are they in yet? Is it time? The annual pilgrimage to find the shockingly expensive few spears of new asparagus came on 2 April. I simply boil these tender new stems for a few minutes until they are bright green, with a slight resistance to the tip of the sharp knife. I serve them dripping with butter. It is one of the most important meals of the year, marking the turn of the season. Plus they make your wee smell, which is always amusing.
Outside, it’s still too early for any serious planting, but there is springtime remedial work going on. The autumn raspberries were pruned a month ago now, but the entire patch is dense with encroaching brambles and grass. The brambles I do my best to dig out, but the grass – dear GOD the grass! It is the constant perennial problem of our plot.
So today I spent a few hours forking out great clumps of couch grass and buttercups from around the perennial flower bed and vegetable beds. The soil in the veg bed feels hard, compacted, but around the flower bed it is soft and friable, and seems healthy. So I was surprised to see that the few short row of tulips, which I planted back in the late autumn, seem short and stunted this year – as if they’ve had insufficient nourishment. Perhaps it is too early and they will perk up? Next to them are two rows of alliums, planted for cut flowers, and up from them (not in shot) I’ve put in three rows of gladioli. They are new to the plot for 2022, and reminiscent to me of that former resident of Harborne (and lover of pink), Dame Barbara Cartland. What could be gaudier than a few hot pink glads in a vase? I’ve popped a few bulbs into my back garden too to see if they fare differently there to the allotment.
Inside, I’ve started off a few trays of seeds, but I don’t want to start too early, not with these cold nights. Slow and steady, that will be my seed-sowing mantra for this year. In other exciting news, work has started on building a new lean-to greenhouse for the back of our house. Will it be ready for the proper hardening-off period in May? Watch this space…
Also this week:
Harvesting: First tulips for cut flowers. In the shops, first asparagus, first English strawberries.
Sowed: Tomatoes, broad beans, peas, lettuce, rocket, spinach, chard, courgettes, cornflower, amaranth, millet, snapdragons, cerinthe, calendula, phlox, scabious, wild carrot. Everything else can wait for a few weeks.
Also: Planted gladioli in garden and allotment. Weeding. Have trays of achillea, broad beans, sweet peas in the cold frame toughening up. Matt has started building the green house that has been boxed up in the utility room since February. Still no sign of the builder for our bathroom, however (5 months since quotation).
Cooking and eating: Slow roast lamb shoulder with garlic, cumin and paprika, bulgar wheat, hummus, green beans, roast onions and aubergine. First asparagus with salmon and broccoli tart. Lots of mini-eggs and hot cross buns though it’s two weeks to Easter. Ice creams in Hay on Wye.
Reading: Agatha Christie, The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, picked up for a few pounds in a Hay bookshop.