Slow painting

Monday, 5 September 2011

Shades of green


Some things are flourishing this year. The 56 leeks, minus 2 or 3, are looking more leek-like by the week. Grass seems to be our best crop, helped along by a stream of busy weekends and darker evenings. Even the emerging green manure, to the left of the lush central path, can't compete.

Grass apart, however, this has been a mean summer. Of my first sowing of lettuce, chard and beetroot, only a few seedlings emerged. The second sowing made a couple of weeks ago is marked by the faint lines of sawdust in the shot below. There are some healthy weeds, but not much else.

The close-up below reveals what might be some carrots pushing through. 'Grudging' is the best description I can come up with for this season. In my more fanciful moments I imagine that the plot knows that our attention has been elsewhere.


We have to face the fact that we are likely to be just as busy through the next year, and so we've been making plans for an ongoing regime of green manure that will take us through this winter, then next spring and summer. We'll keep smaller areas under cultivation but we won't try to be productive on a scale that we can't maintain. In the end the soil will benefit, and we'll arrive at this point next year with both children away at university and the plot serving as therapy for the empty nest syndrome that we can see looming.

21 comments:

~Holly~ said...

Pretty leeks! I'm trying to overwinter some. I hope they make it! I hope your seedlings make it. Keep trying!

L. D. Burgus said...

It sounds like you had a tough growing season. I harvest just a few tomatoes and the squash I going to get tired of eating. We would starve if we had to eat what I grew.

donna said...

Two children at university at the same time...that's a lot of tuition.

Lovely shades of green!

donna

Jenni @ RainyDayGardener said...

It's truly amazing how quickly life can move ~ your happy plot with enriched soil will be ready and waiting for you :) Wishing your kiddos a happy school year ahead. Cheers, Jenni

Mark Willis said...

Linda, maybe you need to concentrate on "protected cropping" and grow small-scale stuff in a cold-frame or cloches?
As you say, though, when the children leave home (at least temporarily during their years an Uni) your priorities will change, and hopefully you will have more time to pursue your hobbies. I notice that despite poor yields on the plot you have still maintained an interest in photography!

Janet said...

It's been a frustrating year for veg.I've have been hungry and /or bored if that's all we had to eat. You're going to have a great allotment next year with all that time on your hands.

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

The weather hasn't helped this year though has it?

The Barefoot Crofter said...

it has been a poor year though - that May! I still have depressed flashbacks to that incessant rain and wind. I was taking some pictures yesterday to do a post about our growing this year, and it was mighty hard.
Take care and remember that phrase from Sunset Song - the land endures. It will all wait for you. xxx

Jo said...

It's hard to keep an allotment going when you just don't have time to dedicate to it. It stands to reason that there will be times in your life when you have to give priority to other things, so I think you're being sensible recognising this and making plans for the next year. Good luck to your daughter, I hope she gets the university place she desires.

Linda said...

Holly, thanks for the encouragement. I feel a tidying out of my seed packets coming on. I'm sure a lot of them are out of date.

Larry, I've seen several people this year saying that they would starve if they could only eat what they grew. Such as your pioneer ancestors had to do.

Donna, tuition is free for Scottish students studying at a Scottish university. So that works for my son, but my daughter is considering applying to English universities, and that would be £9,000 a year. Still much less than tuition in the USA.

Jenni, thank you for your good wishes. I am trying to think of the enriched soil as the plus point.

Mark, I think this would have been a year for cloches up here. I suppose I'm making the assumption that once children are at university they have left home, which may not be the case these days.

Janet, I like to think that we'll return to the fray with new vigour. There are some plots near us where the owners are empty nesters, and they're models of productivity and order.

Sue, the weather has been miserable. So little sun, cool temperatures...

Jacqui, May is just one long month of rain and gloom in my memory. Sunset Song is a great favourite of mine - in fact it's about time for another re-reading.

Jo, we're trying to go for realism. We see so many plots given up because people go for all or nothing.

Mal's Allotment said...

Third child graduated this summer -(and has job!)

Leeks a good bet. No neeps?

Pat said...

Sorry to hear you had such a wet, cool summer. The beauty of that is you don't see dead, brown, empty fields (unless one uses irrigation/sprinklers) as you do here in Calif, due to no rainfall from June through September or mid-October. It sounds like you have a good gardening plan for the coming seasons.

Linda said...

Mal, 3 graduated and the latest one with a job already? Who could wish for more.

No neeps. My Dad is growing enough for us to fill a bogie and take it back down the A9.

Mal's Allotment said...

Well I could wish that the first one currently had a job...

Now it's time to admit that your leek secret, Linda. It's your proximity to Musselburgh!

BilboWaggins said...

We have also said thank goodness we do not rely on our greenhouse and veg crops because pretty much everything has been atrocious this year ...

Except for grass. Grass is definitely a weed in this garden. Dratted stuff pops up everywhere it's not wanted.

Rafael said...

Bonjour Linda,

Difficile de faire le jardin ... et tout le reste en plus ! J'espère que tu ne laisseras pas tomber complètement!

Par ici il est temps de planter les légumes d'hiver. Les gens achètent les plants déjà prêts à planter, le jardin est ainsi rapidement occupé de choux, poireaux, oignons blancs et de salades. C'est beaucoup plus rapide que les semis (et un peu plus cher). Pour les semis, la mâche, la roquette et les navets (type Norfolk ou Boule Jaune) sont très résistants au froid et vont pousser très rapidement cet automne et jusqu'au printemps.

Par ici l'automne commence sec et ensoleillé après un été presque écossais ;-)

Rafael

Kris said...

Sometimes the best harvests come from plots that have had chance to rest. Your plan for your allotment makes terrific sense - allowing it to regenerate while your attention is commanded elsewhere. Sounds like it's win/win all around.

Yes, Mother Nature has been in quite a snit this year -- both here and over there. Maybe SHE needs a time out too!

Linda said...

Pat, the only dead brown fields that we see are 'set-aside' - fields that have been taken out of cultivation and all growth killed off because they are surplus to European Union production quotas. It's so bizarre to see land deliberately rendered unproductive.

Mal, hopefully a job will come along soon. And yes, it might just be the Mussleburgh connection!

BilboWaggins, I've just re-read a 1950's scifi classic called 'The Death of Grass'. Sounds attractive? The only problem is that the virus that kills the grass also kills rice and all grains, with consequences you can imagine.

Bonjour Rafael - non, je ne laisserai pas tomber completement. Nous avons trop investi dans notre petit coin 'allotment'. J'ai essaye la mache il y a deux ans, mais elle ne survit pas l'hiver ecossais.

Kris, you're right. Just imagine being Nature and keeping going through 4 billion years.

clairz said...

The green is so refreshing to my desert eyes!

Why I garden... said...

Leeks are one of my favourite to grow. Think i'll aim for growing more next year. P.S. the grass does look really lush - looks like good barefoot walking grass. Kelli

Orkneyflowers said...

I've a random assortment of leeks looking non-leek-like and quite leek like, sown on same day - two different plots, both look random in the extreme. I did see George on the beachgrove bestowing his wonky/crazy leeks too.

Love the fact you're metaphorically thinking of taking a bogey down the A9 full of neeps :)

Grand the younglings are all doing well!