Perennial vegetables (537)

by Max Akroyd

Our local secondary school has closed down temporarily due to Grippe A, or swine flu. Our two youngest are off school with ominous coughs. While messing about with plastic mulch on the field yesterday I felt a strong need to just sit down and was still sitting there ten minutes later… no, I hadn’t been drinking! I went to bed thinking the Christmas break had probably started early.

Strange then, that I felt absolutely fine this morning! (Although there may be even more errors in my text than usual as I attempt to touch wood and type at the same time). First job of the day, after making bread, feeding the animals and sundry other chores: clear out the seed viability box. It’s determined which of my herb seed is dead and which is alive; the hens will be getting some stale lovage seed with their breakfast this morning, lucky ladies. I’ll be loading the box up again with the contents of some more suspect seed packages later today.

Next up, renovate the Perennial Beds. As the name suggests, these will accommodate perennial vegetables in the new season – rhubarb, good king henry, seakale, sorrel and asparagus. This group is of particular interest to the wannabe self-sufficient gardener because they tend to be first off the mark in spring and bridge the dreaded ‘hungry gap’ to some extent. This is thanks largely to their established root systems, which also makes seakale and rhubarb amenable to being ‘forced’ i.e. tricked into early growth by various cunning means. On this definition, I’d also throw (not literally) Witloof chicory, salsify and cultivated dandelions into this group, and into these beds, too: big roots make early shoots…

Even dull work like strimming and mulching was easy today. No energy expended bracing against the wind and the rain, it was a day smuggled into late autumn from late March and the hours whacking staples with a mallet flew by. Less serene were the goats who seem to believe it’s spring already and are very lively. The younger of the two escaped my grasp at a critical moment, and having ignored being sworn at for some reason, had to tempted back with an apple. 

Handa and Lena