Slow painting

Monday, 25 April 2011

A new bed

A blogging silence doesn't mean that nothing is happening at the plot. Somehow I'm not managing to get the photos I take at the plot each week transferred to a blog post. But we've been busy every weekend. After the harvest of rubbish I showed in the previous post, we finally got down to bare earth in this area for the first time since taking over the plot. Above, just a few rocks left to move. The imprint of the corrugated iron can still be seen at the back of the bed. That iron took some moving - iron posts had been driven deep into the soil by the previous plotholder, and I feared for my husband's blood pressure as he hauled them out.

We planted two rows of Anya potatoes as a first step to clearing the soil. I was heartened to see how many worms there were, so it can't be as bad as we feared. Now we (just) have the massive ex-weed heap on the left still to move.

Because it's still chilly up here, with the risk of frost, I'm being canny and not rushing ahead with sowing. That's one excuse, anyway. The reality is that I'm also busy with other things just at the wrong time for forging ahead with sowing. This weekend for example we've been up in Moray visiting my Dad and attending to his garden. In fact I'm off outside now to weed a border and cut back last year's stems of an everlasting pea. Once I've put on a couple of fleeces - it's cold out there!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Spring harvest

Enough of this trying-to-be poetic looking into the heart of Spring stuff. This is the other side of my Spring - getting going with tidying up at the allotment. Every week I take photos and never get round to posting them, for a variety of reasons. Aching muscles, ironing, watching Grey's Anatomy, reading (just finished The Idea of North, by Peter Davidson), trying to visit other blogs, working too late, exhaustion, making ominous lists of Things To Do In The House...

So catching up, from a few weeks back here is the first of our Spring harvest. Rubbish left behind by the previous plotholder underneath a lid of corrugated iron sheets.

This is just a small sample. The rest included old carpet, which we had to wait to shift until a nesting bees had moved on elsewhere, stones and glass.

We now have another patch of reclaimed soil, once a few remaining brambles are cut out and the corrugated iron sheets removed. The plan is to plant potatoes this year, and then next year to dig out the grass separating it from the rest of the plot. At the same time we'll try to relocate the mound of earth that's sitting to the left of the cleared space. It's the remains of a massive weed-dump that has slowly composted over the years. It's going to be a long haul, but it will extend the plot by a full bed.

Meantime I hope to visit some blogs and see what other harvests this Spring has brought.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Looking into the heart of Spring

Two weeks early, my magnolia stellata is in bloom. Soft, velvet-covered buds one day, and then a froth of white, all of a sudden. My unscientific, highly personal yardstick for its early or late blooming is 'Turin time'. In 2006 we were in Turin from the 11th to the 18th of April. The magnolia was just coming into flower when we left, and when we returned it was over. Turin was worth missing its flowering for, but still, I remember the pang of disappointment at arriving home and realising that it would be another year before I would see my own tree in bloom. (And Turin has been much on my mind recently as I plan another, static blog about that experience. Coming shortly, probably to Wordpress.) The essence of Spring in Scotland is a counterpoint of blossom with echoes of Winter. This is the north, after all. Sunlit blooms against a background of slate-dark sky would be what I would long for if I were ever exiled to the South. And how can this be? Plum blossom, which my mental calendar places firmly in late April. Admittedly my little tree is planted against a high south-facing wall. It's an espalier that got away, going its own sweet way despite my attempts at pruning and training. I am counting the plums we might have this year. Last year we achieved three, and I am praying the gardener's prayer that frost won't smite the fragile blossom even in this precocious Spring.