A satisfying weekend


I don’t know if it’s global warming, but I’m not complaining. Garden tidy-up is usually done in pouring rain, howling wind and involves plenty of misery and cussing, numb fingers and rain down the back of my neck. To be able to do it in glorious sunshine and a t-shirt is astonishing, and very welcome.

As a result, I’m massively ahead of where I normally am this time of year.

I’ve constructed a cloche of old off-cuts and some plastic sheeting from old packaging for my forcing carrots – it probably gains null points for artistic impression, but will (I hope) get the job done. My Shakespeare shallots are all sprouting nicely, and I’m getting the first shoots through on the Shenshyu onions I put in. I have the merest promise (or maybe it’s a hallucination) of the spring onions starting to pop up. It’ll probably turn out to be grass, but I’m excited by what I see for now! My Spring Hero cabbages are well on their way now, so I’m hoping that now the butterflies are getting fewer, they won’t wreak as much havoc as they did earlier this year. I HATE picking caterpillars off my brassicas . . . little devils had pretty much all my calabrese.

The garden is looking ready for winter. I’ve got a few splashes of scarlet from the pansies and cyclamen, and we’ve still got calendula, fennel and marigolds in full glory, so the colours are magnificent even through everything has started to die back. I’ve left the aquilega heads on for now, but the fennel seeds are safely bagged up – I really don’t need another summer of uprooting self-seeded fennel from all over the garden, but I’m happy for the aquilegas to run riot (for now). I’ve broken up a fern and redistributed it . . . and shifted around the sage, thyme and artemesia to hopefully get a bit more benefit from companion planting next season.

Spaces are ready for the fruit bushes – blackcurrant, redcurrant and raspberry are coming, though I still need to prepare the ground for the apple and pear trees I’ve got coming (yes, it’s a big garden ūüôā ), there are only three major jobs I’ve still got left to do. The apple tree needs pruning, but it’s early for that yet, and the vines are finally going this year. We inherited a pergola walkway from the previous owners, and they’d planted it with grape vines –¬†a lovely idea in theory, but in practice they’re a nightmare – too many and too big for the space, and the fruit, despite my best efforts and by-the-book pruning and tending, is bitter and good for nothing except our winter starling visit. So all but one are getting ripped out. I’ve got homes for three of them, which is good, I hate to think of just binning them, but one remains a candidate for the bonfire, sadly. Again, I’m going to hang on until all the leaves are off before I launch into that one. That only leaves the side of the house – currently it’s a weedy old gravel patch. The plan is that next year, it’ll be a gorgeous little fragrant patch of meadow . . . but to acheive it, I need to weed the whole thing, scrape off the gravel, make a path through it to the gate, break up the surface and compost/top-soil it, all before I can sow the seeds. I’m just glad it’s not a big bit of land I have to do it on!

Actually, make that 4 big jobs, as I’ve just remembered that I need to re-paint the fences and the garden bench this year. Meh. Should have done it this weekend whilst the sun was shining, but pottering about in the mud is much more fun. Oh well. Next sunny day . . .

Things are getting going indoors as well – my winter herbs are sprouting in their window container, and I’ve sown some natives – achillea, anthriscus and angelica – in starting trays, all to go out this year. The achillea, despite being the most temperamental to germinate, apparently, is already up. I’ve got more prosaic cauliflower on the go as well, so I can get the jump on next season’s planting . . .

It’s all so exciting . . . it’s given me a real buzz, and something to hang on to in what is traditionally a horrible time of year for me. The dreaded depression usually starts to rear its ugly head around October/November to pull me into the biggest black hole by December (Christmas is awful), and although I can feel it stirring, I’m hoping that I’m giving myself enough to look forward to in terms of plans and targets that I can beat it without having to resort to the medical profession . . . p.m.a. and all that, and fingers crossed that I don’t get as physically incapacitated by it as I have done the last couple of years.

The hard physical work in the garden has given me another bonus, as well. I’ve got two really strong story ideas out of it, that just hit me like lightening. One of them scared me so much I got all squeamish and icky about it and had to go have a cup of tea to calm myself down, and the other is just incredibly convoluted and byzantine¬†– I’m not sure it’ll work out as the short story I originally envisaged . . . but I’m not sure I’m ready (even with Nanowrimo looming) to commit to a novel. I’m too deeply involved in other things – editing the Serpent novel,¬†the ‘How to Think Sideways‘ course,¬†making the Jay Lake ‘story a week’ write/submit schedule (and of course I have two mad weeks of textile arting to do now!) – to let myself get loaded up with another project. I need to sit tight and keep it back-burner for now . . .

Up, up and away . . . . wheeeeeeeeee


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