Force majeure (405)

by Max Akroyd


It’s now very dry on the field. I’m keeping the seedlings of parsnips, beetroot, sweet peas and radishes ticking over with a daily soaking, but most other soil-based activity is – reluctantly – on hold. Along with the weeds and the slugs, I’m waiting for Sunday when we’re promised rain before a hot start to next week, with temperatures up in the 20’s.


Good weather for goats...


I’m not sure there was ever a gardener who ever said (with a clear conscience): “There’s nothing I can do today – I’m off to the pub!”. There’s always something to do in any weather. It’s often just not very desirable, that’s all. My unwelcome task this morning was to unveil the asparagus bed. This had fallen victim to even more intractable circumstances than drought last year (my wife’s car crash). The weeds soon overtook a lot of hard work in this thirty metre bed at the very top of the Kitchen Garden, and I had no option other than to mulch the lot last autumn and hope for the best.

So, with asparagus season notionally around the corner, it was high time to uncover the asparagus bed today. What lay beneath?




Well, at least the jungle of weeds had been largely extinguished – just some etiolated old docks poking through. There were, however, tiny signs of life evident in 12 of the 15 asparagus crowns originally planted. If nothing other than a miniscule stand against life’s uncontrollables, I’m determined to coax them to full strength over the next few seasons.

The plastic mulch liberated thus was immediately put down over some short lateral beds in the Kitchen Garden. Once the awkward middle section of this big area is mastered I’m faced with the surprising prospect of actually completing an area of the garden, planting-wise. In fact, in the sense that every space that can be planted is planted, ‘finishing’ the garden is a realistic prospect by the end of June.

Which is just as well. A new, elemental force capable of huge distraction from gardening matters is (touch wood) approaching fast! Hope he isn’t expecting asparagus too soon…