Scheduling my day.

Sometimes there are moments that stop you in your tracks. This morning there was a frost on the ground and the garden was looking amazing. 8am and I was tending the bonfire rays of light caught the smoke. Charlie had already been up since 6am harvesting microherbs. Martin was measuring for quantities for a new path with a slide rule. I thought of all the chaos out there at 8am, tedious commutes stuck in traffic, fraught school runs, email checking. I’ve done my fair share. But today, here I was tending the fire while planning my day in a notebook.

The day looked like this: sow tomatoes, rocket, plant rosemary, take cuttings, tidy strawberries then water and feed, plant Jerusalem artichokes, sow carrots outdoors and protect, plan herb bed, order in those blue potatoes (where from?) There are also notes like; Remember! Buy more trowels, warning- first red ants spotted in peach house – eliminate before they start farming aphids. Mushroom compost. Are cloches ready? Gloves. Snails out! Mice! Moles! Agh!


Can you see it? flower buds emerged on the strawberries in the peach house today.

Four buzzards were riding the spring thermals above us at mid-day. Their cries make a haunting echo. Until relatively recently they were extinct in East Anglia, so we are really lucky to have them here. Believe it or not the owl still calls all day. I had thought it was just because light levels were low and he was still hunting, but perhaps he hunts in broad daylight – such are the pickings.

Benjy and I discussed the best aspect and location for the Jerusalem artichokes. This is not as easy as it sounds. They can grow to 10ft, given the right location, so we don’t want them shading out their nearest neighbours, equally in our shadier spots in the garden the rhizomes will get eaten alive (the mice love the mossy end) or rot. After much to-ing and fro-ing about pros and cons of each spot Benjy shrugged his shoulder and said in his usual pragmatic way: ‘Let’s face it every plant gets treated like royalty here, so where ever they go they’ll be fine.’ Which is true (but still doesn’t grant  immunity to the mice, mole, snail problem)


Don’t the rhizomes look bizarre? We dug up bucketfuls of these around the garden, pressure washed them and discarded any damaged by wireworm, slugs etc. Now they are being replanted in well spaced rows where they (we hope) they will thrive.

The carrots took much more time to plant than anticipated. The soil is clay and I don’t want to risk the carrots forking as soon as they hit a lump of clay. Therefore, despite having previously dug the bed, we had to excavate a deep trench fill it with sand and compost and sieve soil back on top. Then there’s the dreaded carrot fly. They can decimate a crop and must have done so here last year as when I arrived there they were still buzzing around the mangled remains of carrots in November. Defence is better than attack so I’m protecting our babies with dense weave ‘carrot fly proof’ fabric. I wonder if this is a crop that will be more trouble than it’s worth here. That’s part of the challenge, finding out what we will do best here. It will be interesting to reflect in January of next year which varieties really worked.


Preparing the seed bed for carrots

Breaking news. I’ve been inaugurated as a local at the village cinema night. The Flix in the Stix are held in the village hall once a month and last night was my second visit. I now appear to have volunteered to run the plant stall for the village fete, join the choir, have met the vicar, am setting up a charity book box outside my cottage and will be opening my tiny courtyard garden to the public in June.

Funniest cinema question: ‘I’ve heard that Muntjac deer dislike human hair, should I ask the hairdresser to save all mine when I next get it cut so I can spread it on the garden?’


However a brief consultation with the British Deer Society’s website finds that both lion dung and human hair are both illegal as use to control deer under the 1997 Control of Pesticides (Amendment) Act. What a bizarre world it is out there.

I recommend lion dung complete with original vendor.


Martin’s done a stunning job, repairing the original BE doors. He had to rebuild the frames, gouge out rot and fill in brickwork before he could even think about rehanging, let alone painting. This is only the undercoat, but they look beautiful already.

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