Impatient to Plant ?

Struggling against a suddenly-powerful wind while crossing a canal bridge in Nottingham on Saturday made me realise how different things are to this time last year. It is so much milder this year, we have had (and are still having) rain by the bucketful and many parts of the country are flooded. The Somerset Levels for example, shown on TV news clips filmed from helicopters,  as absolutely and extensively inundated. Sewage treatment works are underwater and houses, farms and businesses – not just there but elsewhere – are damaged and will take months, if not longer to recover. Some local protestors claim it is the policy of not dredging the rivers that is to blame. Politicians promise glibly to sign off on submitted plans (in six weeks’ time) if they are viable. So … not everything is different then eh?

Last year if I remember well enough we were overcome with snow. Schools were closed, railways, air travel and motorways affected by the savage depth of snow and cold.

At home this year we have blue tits carrying nesting material into the nest boxes (one out front, one in the back garden) and other birds in what appears to be full “courtship” plumage. I remember my grandfather always saying that 14th February (Valentine’s Day for romantic humankind) was the day birds paired up with some wry affection. Up on the plot our ground, at the bottom of a slope is soggy, digging unthinkable and the soil is heavy and waterlogged. The November-sown broad beans are shooting up: two disciplined, double rows and the third I sowed to use up the seed unruly by comparison. The autumn planted onion sets are doing less well, but have time to recover. But rhubarb is showing – and looks so delicate  in the powerful low sunlight.  Weeds are germinating, wouldn’t you know?


And my “allotment brain” is maybe getting carried away by the warmth. I am impatient to get seeds into the ground. Surely it’s warm enough?Surely it won’t turn cold. Not now? And another part of my brain argues back: “What’s the rush? It’s only January. Give it time: let’s see what happens.”

I have a raised bed to build … but my excuse is that it’s too wet, that our daughter has borrowed the rechargeable drill I will need to make an elegant job of it. Jim, you should know laughed and advised me to put elegance aside, that even when I try for it I fail. (Thanks Jim!)

There is, you see good quality topsoil left over from the community area building project – and it needs moving. Our raised beds do need some work so … the wooden sides having rotted over the seven years they have been in place.


We have the slabs to install a decent path down the side of plot 4D but the soggy ground ahs so far prevented any real work on this. Incredibly there are still pot marigolds, scabious and pinks in flower at the allotment: they haven’t stopped since the summer!

A couple of weeks to go until fees are due to be paid. Hoping for another rain free couple of weekends. Get the money in, give out the seeds and seed potatoes, free bacon butties reward for early payment and me in charge of the fire-pit that acts as an excuse to kick stones and talk over things that people talk about around fires (but can’t always remember afterwards). Er, does that happen to you?

But yesterday I satisfied myself with a bit of tidying up. We had four crates of “between houses” strawberry plants for our daughter, who won’t be able to use them (long story about landlords and gardens). So I carted these up the plot and popped them in. That’s when I realised how cold the soil and the wind are. It was good, however to be doing something positive. I moved some self-sown Maltese campions and marjoram into the bed to fill it. I am always happy to fill in the odd little corners with flowering plants and herbs. For me they add a welcome informality, play a role in attracting insects (natural predators, pollinators or just simple wonders like butterfly species).

The very dramatic storm In Nottingham which had lightning-and-thunder seen and heard at the same time, heavy horizontally blown hail, that caused us to seek shelter in the lee of some canal-side industrial warehouse and lifted crisp packets and debris from the road in mini-whirlwinds actually ripped roofs off garages and houses in other nearby Midlands towns, soaked the Notts. County pitch and for health and safety reasons meant the match was played without ball boys. The game and events around it are another story. For another day. Another blog?

Images: www.



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