Trying Not To Dig The Plot And 30 Minutes Of Weird Weather

On a very dull Tuesday afternoon I thought I’d brave the cold wind and walk across the field to the allotment. On went the woolly hat, quilted coat (over three layers) and the wellies.

Unsurprisingly I had the allotment to myself – not another mad gardener in sight. I set about emptying one of the compost bins, and spreading the contents  (a hand’s width deep) over a metre wide stretch of ground that had been cleared of over-wintering sprouts and broccoli. It seemed a good day to do it, and I was glad I had prised myself from the house.

This year I’m experimenting with the ‘no dig’ system of cultivation, so apart from tweaking out one or two noxious weeds, I resisted the temptation to get out my favourite spade. The objective is to cover the soil with enough interesting organic matter to excite the worms in the soil below. They then do the digging, and other soil-friendly organisms get going too so that, hopefully, the later seasons’ crops – cabbages and sweet corn – can be planted out on the much improved, and better nourished ground.

I was thus in the middle of this very absorbing activity when someone upstairs switched off the lights and I turned to find a tempest sneaking up on me.


Yikes! By the time I had scooted across the plot to the shelter of my polytunnel, we were having a small, but very concentrated snow and hail blizzard. It was far too stormy to think of making for home. Instead, I  pottered about in my tunnel sowing some purple Brussels sprouts seeds in modules,  while trying to remain hopeful that this truly was a passing squall and not the heavens falling in as the heavyweight clouds suggested.


I forgot to record the actual blizzard that followed, so here are some Précoce de Louviers  pointy spring cabbages that are growing most happily in the tunnel.


When I stuck my nose out of the tunnel some twenty minutes later, this was the view over Much Wenlock:


By which time it was too late, and the ground too wet to go back to compost spreading.  As I walked home across the allotment, I watched strange, but less threatening clouds gather over the hills:


And when I stepped through the hedge into the wheat field behind our house, the sky looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth: snowstorm, what snowstorm?

Clearly the figment of a delusional, non-digging gardener then:


copyright Tish Farrell 2016

36 thoughts on “Trying Not To Dig The Plot And 30 Minutes Of Weird Weather

  1. Gorgeous photos! Those cloud formations look incredible 😍 I really hope this crazy weather calms down soon..we’ve all got so much to do and our seedlings can’t stay inside forever!

    1. Yes, that is becoming a problem with the seedling. I anyway use enviromesh up at the allotment a) because it’s exposed and b) to foil the pigeons. This year we may also need it to even out the climate. Either that or a lot of fleece. Brrr.

    1. I’m thinking one may just come with the other. Bad signs include being out and about somewhere on quite ungardenly missions, and coming on an unattended pile of leaves. You just know you are going to have find some means of gathering them up.

  2. What strange weather – the climate is doing the weirdest things at present. We had the hottest April night ever a few nights ago but now it is raining and down to 16 C in the late morning. Strange days indeed.

    1. Yes indeed, Lulu, sharing and swapping produce is one of the bonuses. And trying to grow things that will freeze well for the winter months. And of course you meet some pretty interesting people out on their plots 🙂

  3. Your plants are going to appreciate your dedication to duty Tish. What very changeable weather you are experiencing Will it ever settle down I wonder.

    1. I keep looking at my sweet corn seedlings and shivering for them. I think it will be a while before they can go outside, and then only with some fleece protection. Today we are promised more wind to go with the wind we already have. Hang on to our hats!

      1. We are being spoilt at the moment with good weather. After a dry spell we are now getting a few evening showers each day. Don’t know how long it will last as our dry season is looming.

  4. I love strange weather like this. Makes my camera go klick, clicking wild. The allotments in Cley ist a few steps away from our house and we love to go there. Not everyone that started with a passion can keep it up. Your polytunnel looks great, Tish.

    1. Like you I’m finding myself endlessly turning to watch the sky. I don’t remember ever seeing such fascinating cloud formations – or at quite least so changeably.

    1. It does have aspirations to becoming a jungle. I’m never quite sure how this happens. It’s a bit like the snowdrifts of paper that invade my office. Surely not me who creates such chaos 🙂

  5. I think we have ALL had enough of the tempests. I was beginning to think it was just because we’d moved to the south-west that we were experiencing all this windy wild weather. Seems not. And no snow thank goodness. Love your clouds – they are pretty dramatic! And one question about the polytunnel, how do you stop it from being blown away? Are they anchored into the ground somehow? Just wondering as I wouldn’t mind a wee one (greenhouses far too expensive) in the future, but it is windy and exposed up here.

    1. I didn’t install mine, since I inherited it secondand, but I watched a man who did, and he dug some pretty deep trenches all round. The frame is thus well bedded in, and pretty sturdy. Someone at the allotment erected the cheap ones Aldi were selling last year for less then £30. The frames have lasted allright, but the cheaper plastic covering just gets shredded. The answer could be to buy the plastic from someone like First Frames which is where my tunnel came from. Mine is 15 feet long btw which seems big, but easily filled up especially with stuff for the winter and spring.

  6. I have years of previous experience of mental UK weather so we’ll skip that, if you don’t mind?
    What I really want to know is, how’s the ground doing with the no-dig policy? Can you see any noticeable change already etc?

    Those pointy cabbages look divine, by the way.

    1. To be honest, there’s not much to report on so far, Ark. The winter and spring have been so wet, I’ve not explored the beds that I covered in compost some months back. I’ll let you know when the weather improves, which is SUPPOSED to be next week. One plus point: The heavy litter covering did keep the weeds down.

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