Slow allotment gardening in the life of a busy family
Sunday, 1 January 2012
Looking back - and forward
Looking back - at my overly optimistic promise of a post before Christmas and lots of blog-visiting. Where did the autumn go? Weekends were swallowed up, and for the most part the plot has been unvisited. A question of out of sight rather than out of mind: I've been very conscious of it just 10 minutes walk away, hibernating under its (patchy) covering of green manure. It will be quite a reunion when we do get along after the New Year.
Looking back also at these retro illustrations. They almost have the look of engravings from a Victorian gardening treatise.
In fact they're from the Reader's Digest 'The Gardening Year', 1968. Don't you love it? "rewarding but seldom grown vegetables".Courgettes, seldom grown??? But who grew courgettes in 1968, at least in Scotland? I remember my first taste of green pepper - in 1977. Incredibly exotic. I remember the first time my mother and I ventured to use garlic in arecipe, circa 1976. We asked the greengrocer (NB greengrocer) for two cloves of garlic, being wholly ignorant that garlic was sold in bulbs.
I've been sorting through boxes of books in my Dad's loft this week, and have been enthralled by the discovery of The Gardening Year. A first edition too. Perhaps it'll be really valuable in about 200 years time.
Among the lurid-hued photos of bedding plants and flowering shrubs, the instructions for pruning newly planted floribunda roses, and the never-ending list of 'general tasks' for each month, was this little global warming prickle of anxiety.
This December's temperatures have seldom dipped below 4 degrees, it seems. And taking as a yardstick the year of my son's birth, 21 years ago, I remember watching for the first spikes of crocus and daffodils in February. For the past few years, despite frigid December temperatures, the spikes have been showing before Christmas.
But the looking forward I'm doing just now is to carving out a bit of time for the allotment. Perhaps I'll use The Gardening Year as my guide. So, for January: "The coldest month is the time to plan ahead with seedsmen's (sic) catalogues and to send mowers and other equipment for servicing."And "General Tasks: order seeds, gladioli, onion sets and shallots, and garden sundries such as tree stakes, pea sticks, bean poles, string, canes, insecticides, fertilisers and weedkillers." How many different kinds of stakes and sticks and poles and canes were there in 1968?