Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring is sprung

The weather recently has been ideal for the past month, with rain a couple of times a week at least. This makes gardening very easy since everything grows steadily and you can spend time weeding and planting instead of watering. Can we arrange for it to be like this every month please?

I had given up hope that the clover I seeded early last year on the vegetable garden would grow. It seemed to have been overwhelmed by the grass and weeds. But these all died in the cold, and now the clover is running riot. I've never seen such big clover leaves. They look really good for green manure and mulch, especially because when you cut the big leaves, there are little ones already growing underneath. Also, I ripped up a few clover plants and the roots have the little white and pink nodes on them that I believe contain the bacteria that fix nitrogen in the soils. Clover seems to be a valuable ally to have in the garden. I had thought of having a covering of green as a prerequisite for keeping hens, and now that green has appeared I'll have to start thinking about the next step. It occurs to me that I have no idea where you get hens from.

I've constructed yet another bed. The offcuts left over from the house have been very useful for this, and there still seems to be another couple of beds' worth left. This bed is being used for green peppers, two sorts of aubergine (including one of the very long thin type popular in Ehime), and 'asparagus lettuce'. I have no idea what this is, I just found it at the seed and plant shop. I wonder if it will make our urine stink like actual asparagus does? It seems to be the very useful 'cut and come again' type, and if it really tastes like asparagus, we'll be in salad heaven - until it flowers anyway.

The broccoli all flowered which meant that it stopped producing tight, edible green heads. The bees seem to rejoice in the yellow flowers, and the missus suggested I display some flowers indoors. Something rural and weird must have gotten to her, because a few years ago this sort of thought would never have crossed her mind. Hopefully this new bucolic free thinking will extend to the keeping of hens, but I wonder...

I left a bit of broccoli standing for the bees, and put the rest in the compost, hoping that the large amount of green material will get it hot at last. At least once I want to succeed in hot composting.

Now the peas are coming along well and the onions. The peas are a variety with purple shells that I picked up in the garden shop. The flowers are also a pretty purple.

In addition, the garlic seems to be nearly ready, and the potatoes are beginning to leaf. I planted yellow and purple varieties instead of the usual spuds, and according to the packets, they all have amazing health-giving properties that will make you live to 163, if'n you don't get hit by whatever kind of bus they'll have in the future.

This year, the vegetable patch is actually beginning to look something like what competent gardeners of many years standing produce. I find myself admiring it with an idiotic grin of total happiness on my face. The other morning I noticed that the cilantro had started its spring growth. I pulled a bit to sniff and got cilantro scent on the end of my nose. I couldn't stop smiling about the whole thing for about 5 minutes. I got the cilantro plant from my friend William at his Thanksgiving Dinner last October and it survived a drunken ride home in a yoghurt pot. This makes it all the more precious. I never thought I'd be so pleased with a herb.

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