Fair weather … and fowl (385 days to go)

by Max Akroyd

My polytunnel is a bit like a space ship – something strange but interesting which landed in the garden ten months ago.

I’ve happily harvested salad in there for weeks, but now that’s all going to seed and being stared at longingly by the goats and the hens. Meanwhile, the tomatoes and cucumbers are almost big enough to suggest that they should move in there soon. But I’m guessing. Whereas I have a fair idea about what planting strategies will succeed and fail in the open garden, or even in a greenhouse, I’m a polytunnelling virgin. Basically, I don’t know what I’m doing and it always feels a bit weird to be in there.

Talking about weird, this odd weather continues. It’s neither good nor bad, it just goes on being mainly dry. What happened to the weeks full of rain we’re accustomed to at this time of year? They serve as an aide-memoire to keep things up-to-date in the polytunnel. Without a good soaking to the skin outside, I tend to forget to find an excuse to shelter under the plastic and just default to milling around in the field.

I think the realisation that a healthy looking clump of dandelions had already managed to complete its life cycle in the polytunnel finally pushed me to act. I’ve spent the morning carefully thinning out the gone-over salad, but keeping things like Red Deer Tongue lettuce, spring onions and coriander which are still going strong. The prospect of some cold nights ahead stayed my hand when it came to planting out the cucumbers and tomatoes; but I got their planting positions ready – just in case it ever warms up. I had hoped to form proper-looking beds with wooden boards this year but, as ever, there seems to be more urgent priorities.

Like duckling food. And – I’m pleased to report – the goose is finally sitting. Suddenly a nest has appeared, in a ridiculously exposed corner of her domain, and there appears to be about six eggs inside. Sitting on top of it, night and day, rain or shine, is Queen Goose. Who isn’t exactly cuddly at the best of times, but now hisses at you and looks ugly if you get within twenty foot of her. Somehow this afternoon I’ve got to top up their little pond and generally tidy up a bit without getting pecked. Could be a challenge.