I feel like I’m chasing my tail at this time of year. One moment I am so in control I loudly declare “I’m the most spring ready I’ve ever been!” and I am genuinely shocked at how in control things seem. I try my best enjoy the moment without wondering what is going on behind the curtains.
Then the next moment comes that proves without a shadow of a doubt at being 100% spring ready is a fallacy, a myth and trying to get spring ready is as impossible as chasing shadows. The unceasing rain comes and soggies up my soil and in as little as a few days I’m set back weeks. And just as it dries out, the rain returns and re-soggies the soil.
Eventually the sun comes out, the soil is perfect – light and crumbly and releases the weeds that grew relentlessly during the rain, with ease. I get all excited and climb into my gardening clothes only to be reminded of some pre-arranged engagement that can’t be changed. And with a heavy heart I put on my fancy city clothes and cast a longing glance out over the garden as we drive away. As we return towards home, the window wipers are engaged as spits and spots begin to splash on the screen.
The grass grows taller and creates an overall illusion of a garden raging out of control and I’m as far from being spring ready as I’ve ever been.
Finally, the planets align and the weather is good, the soil is dry and I don’t have to be anywhere for hours and hours. Choosing to ignore the latest impending storm warnings and setting the phone to silent so I wouldn’t be disturbed, I rolled up my sleeves an indulged in some serious soil dwelling. My immediate priority was my carrots and parsnips. These were entering my dreams and causing me to wake with worry. They should have been in weeks ago, so it was with great pleasure I began work on preparing their soil.
The bed originally hosted a cover crop of mustard over the winter months, to try to cleanse the soil of the blight the potatoes enticed in. There won’t be another crop in there that would be attractive to blight for 6 years in my crop rotation program, but it doesn’t hurt to clean up when you leave somewhere – it is just good manners.
The problem with the cover crop, is I had planned to dig it into the next bed, where the potatoes were going to go, but there just wasn’t the time for it to rot down before spud planting day. I cast my eye out hopefully over the garden looking for a spot to dig it in. I’d hate for it to go to waste – although there was always the compost pile. The only bed not currently occupied or due to have a new tenant not due to go in sooner rather than later was where the peppers were, which will be occupied by the cucumbers and they hate the cold so won’t be going in for ages. So I carefully dug it all in and buried the mustard beneath the soil and I really hope the cucumbers appreciated the effort.
Once cleared of the cover crop the soil was fluffed up, because carrots like fluffy soil, however, this winter I had been experiencing rising rocks. In beds that were once loose and easy, after a winter of frost and rain, rocks began to appear on the surface. I have no idea where they’d come from but there were a lot. This meant – if I wanted great carrots, I needed to sieve the soil. To be honest I probably would have sieved it anyway, just to make sure. I dug out the soil to a spades depth, because that is about how long I want my carrots to be and dumped it into the kids old paddling pool. Then I laid my riddle down over the hole and sieved the soil back into the bed. It is just as well I did it as I ended up with a bucket full of rocks. Had they been allowed to stay I would have ended up with forked carrots and they are awfully hard to peel!
Then it was just a matter of sowing the seeds, watering them well and protecting them by popping over my cool PVC cloches. I think I need to make some more as more rainy weather is forecast and I’d hate for my seeds to rot in the ground from over watering.
Now my carrots and parsnips are in, I can sleep well. I have the gentle muscle ache of a job well done and no nagging feeling that my carrots would be late. Hopefully I won’t dream of spuds as they need to go in – pronto. Jersey Bennes take 100 days and today it is 100 days until Christmas. I’d hate to ruin the big day so soon in the festive season.
Come again soon – Oh my goodness – I’ve forgotten to sow my marigolds. I need to sow my marigolds.
Sarah the Gardener : o)