Early Days in a Late Spring

As expected, April’s arrival has put an end to things: The lingering sulk of the longest winter is finally docked, and spring is most definitely sprung. For four days last week we basked in pleasant sunshine with temperatures four to five degrees above average, but this week has seen a return to more familiar Atlantic troughs with pulsing thundery showers and periods of widening sunshine.  Though the forecast hints at a cool night or two yet, by and large April is doing what April is expected to do in scattering showers and sunshine in equal measure.
Suddenly there is a noticeable greening-up and perceptible growth across the monster’s measure, and everything that seemed to be standing still and simply marking time throughout February and March has begun to reach for the warming gold orb and widening blue above. Though at times it can be the cruellest month, this year April is the gardeners’ redeemer; nature has finally set its sight on new trim, and all at once there is pep in the step of everything.
Although way too early to make hay, when the sun did shine we made up for the four week foreshortening of the season and tried to get back on track with our own general spring sowing and planting schedule. We like to think we’ve more or less achieved this. Most of what we intended to sow has been sown, and where and when we lost stock we’ve simply re-sown. The bare branches of the apple, gooseberry and blackberries are consigned to memory; the Dutch Master daffodils which provided welcome solace during the extended bleakness are now fading fast and are being crowded by the stretching globe alliums; the parsnips have germinated as has the dill, parsley and coriander; the kale seedlings are acclimatizing to life outdoors; the onions are green-shooting at last and the gourmet shallots which seemed to have given up the ghost completely have also sprung to life. We’ve bedded the tomato, pepper and aubergines in the polytunnel, and the Dirtdigging Mrs has planted out the zinnia and marigold seedlings along with some lupin and lavenders. The garlic (fingers crossed) seems to have thrived despite  atrocious months on end with its feet in the worst of the weather, and the rhubarb also looks and tastes quite good. A four legged polytunnel squatter help him or herself to the first sowings of sunflower, sweet-pea and nasturtium seed, but, we’ve remedied his squatting rights and re-sown with some added cover.
It is early days still, and yet spring is quite late. Bud burst is a good two to three weeks behind, but this is not always a bad thing. Although the stuttering spring and extreme winter weather events did quite a lot of damage to Soft Fruit Growers stock especially in the south and east of the country, a late spring can be the herald of a very good apple, pear and plum crop later in the year: the blossom burst being delayed often means a much greater rate of pollination success as all the trees in all the orchards blossom all at once, and all of the cultivars and variants benefit from the late explosion of compatibility pollinators. So, there is always an up. Some you win, some you lose. We’ve pottered away and we’re back on course. The worst of the weather is behind us for the moment, and as we dodge the heavier April showers Mrs Dirtdigger can be found, listening to the ever increasing chorus now emanating from the greening hawthorns and rowans as all those “smale fowles maken melodye”.

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Early Days Still: April 2018

April, A cruel month?

Now with the darker days overtaken, spirits soar and senses awaken. There is much to do, and thankfully while we have today we have much time still in which to do it.

April, arriving brimful with showers,
Sets the parks and gardens throbbing;
Glancing patches of bright summer blue
And cumulus blankets perpetually sobbing…JJK

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compliments of Mrs Dirtdigger @janpaulkelly instagram
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Back To The Garden…

 

 

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Hardening-off the tender shoots © janpaulkelly
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Here! Here! Hartley, Spied through wind-break netting…©janpaulkelly

 

Perspectives shift while pulling weeds.
Pulsing “flashes”, cosmic “sizzles”
Snared in threads of Hubble’s bubbles
Dissipate in late March drizzles…JK

Come May, all of February and March’s effort on the allotment begins to pay dividend, and with the gradual greening-up of drab grey winter beds the mind often loses the run of itself and in so doing often gets ahead of itself, and spontaneously imagines harvest’s bounty.
However, the allotment’s best crop can be in the enjoyment of effort expended in cultivating a simple gardening plan and many a gardener has found that the best harvest is often in reaping the memory of those months-on-end they may have spent lost in the dirt.

The allotment garden is a series of carefully cultivated disasters set midst a few successful lettuces, the odd courgette and, if the weather holds and hares are kept in check, perhaps some tomatoes. But what a joy; to hide yourself in clear and plain sight, whiling away the hours, and fortunate indeed to realize you quite contentedly lost yourself between the herb border and May’s bright flowers, and the whole universe could have cared less!
So perhaps a garden’s greatest gift lies not in its spring or summer show, but in the dirt beneath the gardeners fingernails and in how gardening helps the gardener grow.

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“We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden”
                                                       Joni Mitchell

 

Midwinter Jazz

Gladiator Parsnips
Midwinter’s Harvest Christmas Parsnips up and out of bed…sown on St Patrick’s Day…
The final bounty of the year...
Parsnips from the Monster’s depths… The final bounty from the Monster’s old location…

Solstice Jazz

Blackbird trills dark hush of morn,
A carol to winter’s darkest day;
Straggler leaves still cling; forlorn,
The holly’s crown in disarray.

We’ve come full circle in our flight,
Our knowledge dimmed in knowing chorus.
Our hope rests now in promised light
                         On darkling wings, on berries bright,
                          In blackbird songs in the dead of night
And brighter days stretching before us.    ©      JK      December 21st 2016

 

Merry Christmas to all.  Our wish is that you periodically log in as we move forward with new chapters from the Monster’s brand new stomping ground throughout 2017….

 

 

Equinox

Equinox…

Courgettes swell to squamos ooze;
Spent vines cling to the outer edge of the cosmos
Bed, desperate to maintain a grip on summer.

Late September, and summer’s doings come undone.
Drifts of leaves quicken the wood
And nights tighten grip on each new rising sun.

For a few days everything hangs in the balance:
A golden rosette decrees equal measure
To emptied-out beds and a pumpkin’s bright face

While tangible;  the dark end of bright things arrives
With the first grass frost, heightening track and tang of visiting fox:
And unseen, the hound of winter on its scent.

J.K. 22nd September 2016 ©
Paper Rose
A 1st Prize for the second year in a row… With a big big nod to my partner in grime Janette @janpaulkelly