Colours

One of the best things about winter here is that the colour hasn’t been leached out of the landscape by harsh weather. It has stayed incredibly green and lush, and we have had flowers in the garden throughout.

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As spring beckons, new colours are appearing.

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The Japanese quince is full of bumble bees, it’s no wonder there were so many fruits last year.

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Other fruits are in the pipeline, too: the raspberry canes I moved in the autumn are leafing up nicely and the peach blossom is just about to burst open.

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The broad bean flowers and their gorgeous perfume have been a pollinator magnet this week – that’s very good news!

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The garden is full of birds, and the dawn and evening choruses are delightful. We have a huge flock of cirl buntings which visits daily, passes through the garden then feeds on the field. They are charming little things. https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/c/cirlbunting/

With a trip to the UK looming, we have been working flat out in the garden this week.

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As soon as we get back in mid-March it will be all systems go with planting seeds so we have set out to have everything ready for our return. I have had a wonderful time in the veg patch. I’ve been doing some reading about ‘no-dig’ gardening lately but I have to say it’s a bit like the Paleo diet – I can sort of see the thinking behind it but it’s really not for me. The bottom line is: I love digging. I love the hard physical work of turning the soil and picking out stones and weeds; I love the smell of freshly-turned earth which is like nothing else; I love greeting the worms and working in compost and muck. Fresh air, sunshine, birdsong and a spade – I’m a happy bunny!

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Space is of the essence this year so I’ve been turning over corners and paths that can be used for planting: even the tiniest corner can be home to a few lettuce.

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As part of our experimenting in a new climate, I’ve planted a short row of ‘Delinel’ French beans. Yes, I know they are delicate things who love the warmth and in the UK I wouldn’t dream of planting them until May . . . but, there is little chance of another frost here, the soil is warm and Asturias is the home of the bean so what is there to lose? They have two chances, after all. The late autumn-planted ‘Douce Provence’ peas are doing what peas do, tendrils everywhere, so some supportive hazel twigs were definitely called for. I’ve also sown some lettuce, rocket, mizuna and coriander seeds, as well as a mass of annual flowers: let’s see what happens.

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We have been trying to use up the last of the leeks before we leave, what a fantastic crop they have been. We could eat a mountain of purple sprouting broccoli every day, no chance of getting on top of that . . . but we’re giving it our best shot.

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I’ve just about finished spreading the muck heap, I’ve earmarked the patch where it was sitting for courgettes which should go great guns.

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Talking of muck, our fields were treated to a good dollop last week. The tractor was the largest vehicle to go past the house since we moved here, it was a bit of a tight squeeze!

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As the fields are just too steep for a tractor to safely drive on, the slurry went over the fence in a huge fountain. It was a bit smelly for a couple of days but the grass will grow like stink now (excuse the pun) and there should be some very happy cows.

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Roger has had another big push this week sorting out some of the messes we inherited here. First, he took his angle grinder to the posts above the blue seat, which seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever.

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Next, he tackled a length of fence in the orchard. We had decided to take a corner of field into the orchard to give us space to plant a couple of fruit trees. With chestnut poles (left here in the barn) and a roll of stock fencing, the new fence was up in no time.

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Removing the old one was a different matter as it was a classic case of welding mesh, wire netting, plastic netting, barbed wire, building props, string, rubble and rubbish . . . not forgetting the inevitable bedstead.

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I will never understand how human beings can dump rubbish in gardens and fields, especially when nature is trying so hard to make the place beautiful.

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DSCF9938.JPGWhat a difference it has made to the outlook from the seat we have put higher up the orchard, though.

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Another work in progress is a stone wall above the potato patch which will give us a decent flat planting area behind. The stone we are using is from a ‘wall’ at the bottom of the field; I use the term loosely as basically it’s a big pile of stone interspersed with building rubble and rubbish, including a couple of old frying pans and feature freezer lid.

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Carrying the stone up to the garden is incredibly hard work, it is so steep, but will be worth the effort in the end.

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Slowly, slowly, this area of the garden is starting to shape up; there’s still much to be done, but for now it’s not a bad place to sit and watch the sun go down. 🙂

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