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