Slow painting

Sunday, 14 April 2013

First deckchairs of the year

Until now it's been a case of keeping moving to keep warm, but yesterday at the plot it was warm enough to take a break from digging and soak up the sun.  All of 10 degrees, but it felt blissful after a winter that has seemed never-ending.

Not much blogging has been done, but a fair amount of digging.  The blessing of this cold Spring has been that the weeds haven't got going, so digging the ground over hasn't been as hard as it might have been.  Hard enough, tho, and the ground has been hard through lack of rain. 

Below, the strawberry bed in mid-clean.  It's finished now, and plants dressed with sulphate of potash.  Couch grass seems to love strawberry plants, twining itself around their roots and popping up in mid plant.  I don't doubt that it will return to the fray.

The bare ground below holds the newly-planted potatoes.  Two rows of Red Duke of York, two of Mayan Gold (hoping that they will live up to Monty Don's praise of them), and one of Ratte, a salad potato.  The tubers had been chitting for so long that I'm concerned that they will be over-chitted - they had started to wrinkle up - so I hope they will get going and grow.

We have had a paltry harvest of brassicas.  The purple and white sprouting broccoli has still to sprout, and frost has killed most of the calabrese.  However some new shoots of calabrese have survived, as has the purple kale and savoy cabbages.  I'm in two minds about the purple kale.  It does look lovely as a plant, and steamed with a plateful of green lentils, but it made a bizarre addition to my traditional Scotch broth, turning the whole thing a pale lilac.

As for the leeks, they have sulked all winter.  I'm making the best of it by thinking of them as gourmet baby leeks.

There has been curiously little sign of life at the allotment site over the past few weeks.  The weather has been fair, if bitterly cold, and it seems as if people are reluctant to emerge from hibernation.  Everything feels suspended, and it's been difficult to think ahead to a time when winter will end.  When the temperature rose during the night yesterday, with rain and wind, I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder in 'The Long Winter', when the chinook started to blow.