Return to spring (500)

by Max Akroyd

I’ve returned from a brief visit to the UK on family business to find a home landscape transformed. Apart from our snowman, now just a tiny clump of snow with a clementine lying next to it, the white stuff is completely gone. Life is back in glorious technicolour and the glaring monochrome of snowscape is hopefully gone for good.

It’s a bit bewildering for the travel-bleary, this sudden transformation. But fortunately there was a host of hungry animals vying for my attention and there’s nothing like the smell of their muck to bring you back to your senses! It was so easy to wade through the mud to get to them, rather than slither and slide on ice, and it was a pleasure to spend some time with them rather than rush through as quickly as possible to beat the chill.

Unfortunately this lingering revealed a real problem: the ice and snow having punched holes in the roof of the big pig’s barn. That’s going to take some saving up for…


The snow and ice having dumped me unceremoniously into mid-January, by afternoon I was itching to get started on the garden… but I managed to contain myself long enough to review all the beds in the garden and thus try to organise my approach. I determined it was time to switch to sowing readiness mode and to get every inch of space ready for specific crops now.

In practice, over the next few days this means getting some of the long beds in the kitchen garden ready for the early root crops: radishes, carrots, parsnips and beetroot. I got on and moved the first 25 metre bit of mulch to reveal clear soil. I’ll dig this over tomorrow to open the soil up a bit and then wait for the first flush of weeds to appear next month. At this point I’ll cover it again until the end of March when, assisted by the plastic mulch, the soil will be weed free and warm enough to risk the direct sowing. It sounds like a right faff for a few carrots but, given the rampant weeds competition around here, it’s that or sow the seeds in the bin…

In the same spirit, I raked over, watered and limed a good size area in the polytunnel to receive the first salad-leaf sowing. Chicories, rockets and various salad mixes all went in, hopefully a healthful addition to my pork-heavy diet!

It’s definitely not Spring. But it’s now light until six and the first seeds of the year are in the soil.