The Washed Land

April may well be ‘the cruellest month’, but make no mistake March 2023 was definitely one of the wettest. It rained most days, and on days it didn’t rain it certainly showered, substantially.  On two days we had rainfall of over 2” each day, and by month’s end everything was saturated, sodden and soaked.  It was the many weathered month, but this year March certainly brought more rain than any other of the meteorological seasonal variants.  Every plot on the allotment site suddenly has a freeform pond, roadside verges have disappeared neath treacherous drive thru’ splash pools, potholes are puddled, gardens and parklands are soft to boggy and thousands of hectares of arable farmland now lye under unchartered springtime lakes.  Everything has been thoroughly washed, cleansed even, and provisional statistics from Met Éireann having been verified, it seems March 2023 was the wettest since 1947, and that particular year was the wettest on record, records going back to 1781.  Did we mention it was a bit rainy…

Springtime gardeners, as always have been chomping at the bit, waiting for days to lengthen and temperatures to rise so as to get out and grubby the hands, and thus work the dead land once again.  But that has not been so easy to do this year; and we must be mindful that as much as any gardener may bemoan the volume of rain so far this year, the gardens have loved it. Everything is green and verdant, which, by and large is one and the same thing, but there is no simpler way to underscore just how much all that March rain has done for the garden; sodden gardeners, yet satisfied gardens…

The extreme wet conditions have forced us to change-tack a little on the monster’s measure. Eight days into April and we have yet to put our seed potatoes to bed. We did however manage to plant up some bags of Maris Pipers and Desiree maincrop, whilst we are more than happy that the beetroot, turnip, parsnip and scallion seed has all germinated. We’ve sown sunflower and titonia which are up and at it, and in the last few days we also sowed pumpkin, golden squash seed and plenty of basil and coriander. Today we sowed Redbor kale and wild rocket before once more having to take some serious shelter. 

April has taken-up where March left off.  This year we have April showers aplenty; on April 1st a scattered shower passed or’ and finally cleared on the 3rd. We may be working under cover a good deal but we are making progress. We finally have the monster’s new polythene measure good-to-go. All the creeping thistle root was painstakingly dug out by Mrs Dirtdigger during the dark days of January and February, and we put the first of the Moneymaker seedlings into their new tunnelled home in this last week; a little early perhaps, but although wet this year, the temperature is holding about average.

Our little patch of dead land may not have lilacs breeding from it, but it does have a fabulous crop of Timperley Early and Victoria rhubarb, some already baked into pies, already stewed into compote, and all compliments of the aqueous exigencies of many weathered March.

April is doing its April thing as we type. Silver grey skies are showering the stretching foxgloves, aquilegia and bearded-irises; the late muscari and early camassia spikes shine against the last of the daffodils Narcissus Thalia, one of the monster’s favourites.  We have lettuce and cabbage seeds to sow, peas, borlotti beans and melons still to get going, clumps of lovage to split and tarragon to relocate while still early enough to do so, and so, we’ll get going and get sowing…


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