1 March 2023

Mucking in and about | January to February

Two people standing next to a pile of manure

By Mary Beton, F3 plot jotter

Yes, we’re a long way from spring. But the signs are starting to show…

Let’s be frank: winter is vile. It is rarely a picturesque, frost-jewelled, Christmas-card landscape, glittering under a sun. It is cold rain, grey skies, and/or high winds, and a time of year during which your chief preference is to crawl under a blanket with a bag of something nominally edible and highly processed while you stream 100 episodes of a TV series you’ve watched before. Exactly 2.2% is clear, crisp days and the rest is blegh. In short, not your preferred gardening weather. But actually, we had enough good winter for good progress on the plot.

Though winter is usually a quiet time for gardening (maybe that’s just me) jobs trotted onto site one after another with few breaks. Probably, this is due to the newness of the project: we’ve got to get it all ready by spring, or else. People gotta be fed.

It all started with a big pile of poo.

And I’m not exactly sure how much manure it was, but certainly enough to go around. I believe the well-composted equestrian waste was generously transported by the generous farmer from Ford (how big is their van?!) and now forms a keystone in our work to get the plot productive. It’s organic, and it’s saving us a fortune in fertiliser.

Other happenings in January and February

The school invites us to use Mr McGregor’s Garden*

*Our name, not theirs. But a great space that’s ripe for an attack of rabbits wearing little blue jackets. It’s a few beds, a little overgrown, a neat wooden greenhouse and bounded by healthy box hedges. Sue has set her sights on ripping out the woody and unproductive bush of some sort (I think she identified it as a redcurrant) and cramming every bed with produce.

Spring started to drop hints, the big old tease… 

No, it’s not spring yet (sadly). But our first shoots of broad beans (variety Aqualdulce) popped up, offering a fresh little reminder of what’s to come if we’re diligent. What’s more, several stems from our stock of rhubarb crowns (variant unknown) shot their rosy stems from the ground beneath protective pots. It could well be our first crop.

New fruit trees

We have fruit trees! Two apples and a plum (varieties: Spartan, Discovery and Belle de
Louvain
. I could tell you about disease resistance etc., but let’s be honest, you’ll have googled it already if you’re interested. The key thing to note is that all three fruits are juicy, mouth-watering, glossy red/velvet purple, and they look yum). These are planted up between the beds and Mr McGregor’s Garden (see above). We’ve also popped some redcurrants between the trees for extra fruit come summer.

I could list out everything else we’ve been doing, but it’s too much – you’re better off coming and seeing yourself. Feel free to drop by on a Sunday morning (if the weather’s good!)

Catch you on the plot some time?

– Mary


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