It seems to take me ages to get out into the ‘garden proper’ today. After cleaning out Pecky, I patrol the terrace checking for unearthed bulbs. I find some and push them back into the soil.
I had intended to continue to plant out the polytunnel side border, but I changed my mind when I looked at the broad beans in root trainers on the bench. They were the second batch to be sown and are looking floppy because they need to be planted out. I decide to risk the impending low temperatures and get on with the job. The first lot of broad beans were planted out a while ago and have grown well. Unfortunately, they have grown considerably beyond their first supporting strings and some have been whipped by the wind and their stalks are bent. I spend some considerable time adding further support strings to each plant, probably about 40 of them. I then plant and stake all of the new plants, at least another 40.
Whilst doing this I’m listening to radio 4 and I hear someone eulogising about the benefits of wood as a carbon positive building material because it ties up carbon and can be grown as a crop on a constantly replenishing system. Patrick will be pleased to hear this as he makes everything in wood. We are also great fans of old wooden furniture which fills our house (probably too much!).
Today was the day that I first used my wonderful new gardening bag, a canvas creation encircled by outside pockets. I put all of my favourite tools into the pockets, including the precious Niwaki snips and shears that I unpacked reverently out of their stylish, understated packaging. I haven’t used these tools yet but even handling them is a pleasure. I place a new ball of string in the bag and some new ‘Briar’ gardening gloves, also Christmas presents. This makes me feel like a professional and hopefully it will bring an end to me accidentally tossing my trowel into the compost heap with a bucket of weeds, and then have to search for ages before retrieving it! The bag is a game changer, especially for the string and scissors, as I needed to do so much fiddly tying on the broad beans. It really lifted my spirits on this cold, grey day as we all face another long strict lock down.
Today will be spent taking down all the numerous Christmas decorations, inside and out, that we spent so long putting up! The lights have been wonderful and have boosted morale through this dark month, but I now feel ready for the decorations to come down in order for the new year to begin.
The weather was bright and sunny, ideal for the work in hand. It was cold, but I could feel some warmth in the sun and there were times when I was hurrying about in just a T-shirt! Luckily, we had lots of people available to help, Patrick finished work quite quickly and only Meave had to work all day. Even considering the extra man/woman power, I am always surprised at how quickly the decorations come down in comparison to how long they take to put up.
I am normally very sentimental about Christmas decorations and I have been known to get quite emotional when putting away my Christmas village and the decorations on the main tree. However, this year I feel very keen to get on with plans for the new year and I am, surprisingly, under the circumstances, optimistic for the future. I walked around the Kitchen Garden checking the newly planted broad beans which had withstood their first night outside successfully and everywhere I could see bulbs coming up…it is hard not to be encouraged by such obvious signs of new life.
We still have a good supply of produce in the garden. Last night, I cooked boeuf-bourguignon which used a large amount of our shallots…although they are fiddly to prepare, even when put in boiling water to help remove the skins.
The boeuf was accompanied by red cabbage and apple, mashed swede and mashed potato- all from the garden, thanks to the surprise potatoes discovered under the polytunnel bench.
This morning I had grilled tomatoes on toast, I think our tomato supply will last to the end of the month. Growing outside we still have cabbage (green and red), kale, swede, Brussel sprouts, leeks, parsnips, chard, lettuce and lots of herbs. In store, we have butternut squash, pumpkins, onions, garlic, chillies and shallots soon we will have sprouting broccoli and the winter greens and salads in the tunnel. Soon it will be time to sow next year’s crops.