A breather (32 days to go…)

by Max Akroyd

A peek in the greenhouse would confirm it. We’ve arrived at another of those watershed moments in the peasant’s gardening calendar.

The kales, cabbages, brussels and cauliflowers are either planted out in the field or are waiting impatiently on the hardening off shelves. Also evicted from those hot confines, to grow on in cooler spaces, are the herbs, chards, spring onions, leeks and so on. Hours of sowing, potting on and plant-particular pampering has culminated in an end-of-April flurry of movement.

With those old work horses out of the way, the decrepit tables that act as staging in the greenhouse are now home to a more foppish array: tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergines, cucumbers, melons and courgettes, all at various stages of development.  And this weather doesn’t fool me. I’ll get les Saints de Glaces well out of the way before moving that lot anywhere else.

The polytunnel is loaded up with quick-growing edibles, mainly salad and oriental thingies, in an effort to give me something to eat come June if all else fails.

Which it won’t! Rain is promised by the big thunderhead clouds towering above the field. A downpour would revive the potato trenches, and our ten-year old will finally get his bedroom floor back after I shift all the seed potatoes out of there.

The animals have new pasture which should reach as far as Summer too. Quite a moment this: the piglets’ new enclosure defines the final area which I’ll be bringing into cultivation on the field. That’s not the same as saying the job is nearly done, but it’s very encouraging to see what the final shape of things might be…

So the big push that started at the beginning of February to dovetail with Nature’s awakening  is over. And I have to say I’m glad. It’s been an exhausting process. My hands are rougher and blacker than ever, and I could number the parts of me that don’t ache on the fingers of just one of them! The drought has made things very laborious in many ways, but – I concede – has kept the mowing and weeding to a minimum. So far.

I’ve no problem with busy times. But for a bit of joy to creep in there have to be quiet times too. So, before the next phase begins – beans, pumpkins et al – I’m taking a breather. I’m going to let the rain come down and the grass and weeds come up. The family deserve attention undivided by cabbages. Until next week, anyway…