New beginnings

‘Spring is the time of plans and projects’ Leo Tolstoy

March 20th: the Spring Equinox, a solar eclipse, a perigee moon . . . and a new blog site. What a day! Welcome to the beginning of a new blogging adventure – and what better time to start?

The big story of this week is the arrival of our new polytunnel. We first had one sixteen years ago and the idea of being without one now is unthinkable; it not only brings a whole new dimension to what is possible to grow but extends the growing season by months. Not forgetting it’s also a lovely warm place to do some gardening when the weather isn’t too tempting outside! We opted for a 25ft x 12ft model from First Tunnels https://www.firsttunnels.co.uk/ which came with a goody bag of two excellent gardening books, a calendar, crop wheel, packet of seeds and a teabag (to enjoy a cup of tea whilst reading the instructions – how civilised!).

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Our problem here is finding a patch of ground level enough to site a tunnel. Roger started the groundworks in the autumn with a mini-digger but this week it’s has been down to hard graft with a spade, digging out piles of rock and clay.

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 Finally, the supports went in and the bars went up; all we need now is a warm, still day to stretch the polythene over and we’ll be away.

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There will be no problem filling the new tunnel with plants: our windowsills are heaving with trays and pots of seedlings all rocketing up, we’re fast running out of space to house them.

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The next lot are due out of the propagator and I really must prick out those cosmea and tagetes this weekend – but where on earth to put them?

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It’s been a chilly March here so far, the soil is still very cold but it’s workable so red and white onion sets and peas have gone in the ground. Actually, the peas have gone in twice as some furred or feathered creature helped themselves to the first lot. 😦

On a happier note, our neighbour Simon turned up unannounced with a trailer load of muck. Brilliant, it’s just what we need! We’ve left it exposed for the time being to let the rain soak it, then we’ll cover it with a tarpaulin and leave it to rot down over the summer.

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I spent a day weeding and turning the soil in the kitchen garden patch. The muck that went on in the autumn has worked down nicely and the soil is oozing with worms. Excellent. It’s all raked down and ready to go with salad crops as soon as it’s warmed up a little. I have started some claytonia (winter purslane, miner’s lettuce) off in a tray as it needs cold weather germination and I’ll transplant the seedlings when they’re big enough. I’ve never grown it before, it’s one of several new things I’m trying this year from The Real Seed Catalogue http://www.realseeds.co.uk/ so I’m interested to see how it goes.

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I was really thrilled to lift out a hazel stump from the side of the compost bin, it’s been rotting over winter and now leaves my herb patch looking much better. Unfortunately, it didn’t go without a fight . . .

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… ah, well – I’ve probably been one tine short of a fork for a long time. 🙂

Anyway, back to spring. Things are slow, but there are a few colourful faces turned to the sun.

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Across the stream in Wales the first daffodil has opened at last and there are little pockets of miniature daffs scattered about the flower garden.

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The place is full of birds flitting, flirting and feeding up for the breeding season and yesterday we heard a chiffchaff in the wood, the first summer visitor. The buds are bursting on the soft fruit bushes and the rhubarb is hurtling up.

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So, despite a bitterly cold north-easterly wind and bearing in mind Henry Van Dyke’s wise warning

‘The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.’

I think it’s time to step outside and turn my own face to the sunshine. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “New beginnings

  1. Gosh – that polytunnel looks quite formidable, even without the polythene! Am waiting to see how you fill it (I don’t actually mean anything the answer to which is “to the brim” but the spatial arrangements…)

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    • Mmm, we’re pondering that one at the moment. There are some good ideas in the handbook we’re thinking of trying, including hanging staging made from chicken mesh stretched over wooden frames – it allows enough light through to enable plants to grow underneath. So, even more planting space . . . 🙂

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    • It’s a biggy! I’m wondering if there will be room for a chair and stove for a kettle? Mind you, having narrowed my choice of squashes down to a modest 10 cultivars, I don’t think there’ll be room for anything else . . . 🙂

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  2. Looking good! Having tunnel envy here. We’ve decided to turn our boat garage into a tunnel, but we need to measure up and then find a company to make the cover – any recommendations? Also, does the tunnel have to be level? Our only possible sheltered site is on quite a slope.

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    • Boat garage to tunnel sounds like an interesting project! We bought our tunnel from https://www.firsttunnels.co.uk/, I notice they advertise bespoke tunnels so it might be worth getting in touch about made-to-measure polythene. We’ve been very impressed with them so far. It is possible to have a tunnel on a slope if it’s end to end , not side to side (which makes it impossible to stretch the polythene properly). Also, as long as the slope isn’t too steep, otherwise all the soil washes to one end. A level site is best but like you, we’ve really struggled to find one here – hence all the digging! Still, it’s worth it – think of all those lovely veggies . . . 🙂

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