Today, I receive another delivery from Burncoose nursery – two large sturdy boxes containing one Cornus Capitata – ‘Bentham’s Cornel’ and one, Lindera Benzam – the Spice Bush. So, I start my day by planting these two splendid specimens, which look much more substantial than many of the plants already planted. However, this is obviously reflected in the price. Having recently received my latest Visa bill, I reflect that I seem to largely spend my money on bulbs, seeds, trees, books and cat food…the Visa bill certainly reveals my priorities!
I then head back to the polytunnel to complete my epic bulb sorting task and I stay in there until I’ve gone through all of the boxes. By the time I am finished it is dark (I’ve had to plug in the polytunnel lights) and it is very cold. However, at least now I know where the bulbs are and I can start planting. I will start with the daffodils and narcissi in the front field and I will plant any surplus along the front of the forest garden bed.
When I go to shut the orchard gate, I spy a light in Aideen’s boat and go to say hello.
Aideen is sanding rust and painting on rust treatment on the ceiling of her boat and looks like she has been using fake tan again!
Bulb Planting Commencing
Today was incredible, beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine, perfect to commence bulb planting.
I started the day walking around the kitchen garden partly to see if we had any frost damage, it was quite cold last night and there was a light frost and mist this morning. I happen to notice some raspberries in the fruit cage so I pop inside for a snack, they are chilled but tasty! I then retrieve the three big Concorde pears that have dropped off and I collect the last of the Humbug pears growing against the wall. I then go and get myself organised to start planting the bulbs. At this point a sheepish Aideen appears to confess that she has borrowed the battery out of my radio for her sanding tool. This is annoying as I wanted to keep up with progress in the American elections while I worked. I heave one of the big boxes of bulbs into my wheel barrow and head for the front field. My plan is to plant bulbs around the perimeter of the front field in front of the hedge, growing through the grass.
I pace out the distance which is about 86 ‘Kay’ metres. The daffodil and narcissi mix are packed in bags of 25 and I plan to plant 25 daffodils per metre.
This is actually quite easy because I start by lifting up the weedy turf with a fork (the area of ground in front of the hedge is quiet rough), I then pull back the turf with my hands and scoop away at the soil and tuck the bulbs in quite deeply. It feels a bit like tucking them into bed and pulling the duvet over them. I do love daffodil bulbs because they are so resilient and well behaved. Once they are in, they keep flowering and multiplying for years to come. I then pull back the turf, press everything down and progress is quite quick, much quicker than planting the bulbs individually. It gets dark by about 5pm, by which time I’ve planted 425 bulbs. I then collect lots of large windfall apples which I cook with vanilla sugar and Aideen and I eat two of the large pears which were sweet and juicy.
Bella on the boat!
Today gets off to a very misty start, however, this always brings the promise of later sunshine, so no one is complaining.
For breakfast, I use some of my cooked apple with vanilla, three figs, a banana, Greek yogurt and honey, a truly wonderful breakfast to set you up for the start of another lockdown. Frustratingly, my attempt to restart work, by at least trying to carry out my private teaching, has had to stop again. A few of my pupils will want ‘online’ lessons but most I will not see again until December. I am thankful I managed half a term, although by the final two weeks, at least half of my pupils were either self-isolating, or knew someone who was, and therefore decided it was best not to attend. I am determined to remain positive and I am incredibly lucky to have my garden, but I do have moments when I baulk at how much my life has altered and how the majority of my work has disappeared. I have generally decided that it is best not to think about these things and I gratefully retreat to my polytunnel to direct my attention horticulturally, as I cannot musically.
While it is still misty, I move a redundant small table under the workbench to give myself some storage space for the varied assortment of recycled containers, pots and trays that get utilised outside. I have a general tidy up and pot up some rather miserable lupins, by about 12:30 I return to the front field with my wheel barrow full of bulbs.
I optimistically imagine that I will plant more than yesterday, but realistically each metre of planting takes between 10-15 minutes which is only 25 bulbs.
So, I am planting a bit more than 100 bulbs an hour and by 5pm, it is getting dark and I do need to stop for lunch…therefore by the time light is fading I have planted 18 bags of bulbs which is 450…25 more than yesterday. I should not be too preoccupied with numbers, but it is hard to forget that there are about 9000 bulbs to plant and not all of them will be as quick as the daffodils! The sun does break through in the afternoon and it is hard not to be transfixed by the astonishing beauty of the day which feels particularly precious today.
I reach the end of the field, which means I have planted the longest stretch, and I decide to add an extra 50 bulbs to the corner. I keep thinking about how beautiful they will look in the spring.
Before it becomes fully dark, I go to visit Aideen in her boat, which looks very pretty, lit up in the orchard. She has painted about half of the ceiling and it looks much better. Whilst we are chatting, we hear some strange noises and then Bella appears at the door! She has managed to climb up the steps to Mayflower’s little rear deck and wants to come in the boat. This would not be sensible…she might get in, but how would she get out (it’s a big drop down into the boat). We take her back to the house because fireworks are starting and the noise is upsetting her.
I pick all the ripe tomatoes and most of the surviving basil and start preparing dinner. Meat balls with tomato and basil salad. I also attempt to make individual apple pies with the cooked apple.