Hello folks, being a rough old gardener has both pitfalls and rewards. The greenhouse itself has obviously seen better years and it’s a bit like Triggers rake. It’s the same greenhouse that was erected, along with a couple of others, in around 1970. It stands on crumbling concrete blocks, held together by copious amounts of builders foam and has, certainly in recent years, seen the replacement of one end, where half the glass panels are now poly carbonate and any number of new toughened glass panes along with replacement frames and even the odd stanchion. This winter and spring (touch wood) has seen only two glass panels need replacing and another of the manually opened vents put out of action and nailed shut. It is possible to reinstate the side glass that’s slipped due to rotted wood, but it’s a job that takes care and precision. I tend to leave that side of things to my brother in law. I pay him in tomatoes.
Fortunately the other remaining house of the original three is on hand should I need to decamp, a little bit of tidying up and the replacement of a couple of glass panels should see it almost as good as new. A market gardener friend of my father in law was good enough to donate several dozen sheets of glass which, although slightly larger than the ones already in place, can be carefully trimmed to do the job. Unless we see a really bad storm I reckon I’ll be able to continue in my rough old ways for a good few years yet.
Along with the daily grind of hoeing, pricking out, sowing the remaining few seeds for this season, the re-potting and proper weeding I decided that this year was the right time to utilise the only bit of free ground that hasn’t been previously planted up. It occupies a corner of the house that is prone to becoming very wet during periods of heavy raid, as the water tends to run off the fields behind us and settle under the house. For some reason it doesn’t seem to drain as well as the rest of the ground. I suppose a more diligent person would look into it, but I’ve got other fish to fry. Anyway, I intend to remove the sorrel to an outside spot, as it seems to be able to thrive in most conditions and plant this small area up with leeks (sowed directly) and beetroot, which I’ll put in as seedlings.
As you might imagine, one dig isn’t going to be enough to get this small area fit to plant. I’ve dug it over twice now, the second time being much easier and I’ve fertilised it with organic chicken manure. I’ll give it a final dig over this weekend, water it well and it should be ready for use by Monday or Tuesday, dependent on how distracted I get by other things. If stones, bones, bits of old metal, broken glass and shards of slate were cash crops I’d be a wealthy man by now.
Last week I talked about how I’d planted my onions almost fully covered with soil instead of leaving them exposed. Within less than a fortnight I can see the benefit of this simple approach. The majority have produced strong green shoots which all look healthy. They’ll mostly look after themselves from now, with judicious watering and careful hoeing of the ubiquitous chickweed, which is already sprouting, benefitting from the water and fertiliser. I’ve heard that chickweed is now considered an edible delicacy in some fashionable eateries. I asked the landlord at my local if he’d like to buy some from me to enhance his takeaway menu. I’ll leave his colourful response to your imaginations.
Weeding is an onerous task and one which I tend to undertake without relish but with a kind of gusto. It isn’t a job that I can do for say 30 minutes or an hour a day, I get distracted and see other little jobs that I’d rather be doing. This last week, when thankfully it’s been a little bit cooler, I’ve spent about eight hours over a couple of days doing nothing but weeding, both the hoeing kind and the down on my hands and knees, making the buggers have it kind. It’s one of the laws of sod that, no matter how many weeds, tufts of grass, nettles and rogue self seeded plants you dig up or hoe down, you’ll miss at least half a dozen, especially when taking a rough approach to the job. I’m going to weed the tomato stitch again on Sunday, but the potatoes and the peas are now fairly clean. I’m still torn as to whether or not to get rid of the little rocket plantation, I’ll give it some thought.
Although the land adjoining my small plot (I use the term “my” in it’s loosest sense) is owned by my father in law he no longer farms it, although he does let it out to a sheep farmer who has just started to bring his ewes and their lambs out to take advantage of the early spring grass. This old steel bath serves as a trough and I was just about to clean it out of the dead leaves and other detritus, before filling it with fresh water, when this lot turned up for a drink. The “white” lamb has a black patch on one eye, although I’m certain it isn’t a pirate and dark “socks”, one black and one white lamb isn’t a rare occurrence, but it is unusual.
Happy Rough Gardening.
© Colin Cross 2020
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