Tuesday, 29 March 2016

About time...

We had a storm with a name.

'Katie' arrived at about 3am.

She had been forecast; but distractions abound; and predictions can be inaccurate.
But once awake; and contemplating the potential damage at that time of night; it is difficult to go back to sleep with an attitude of 'it'll probably be OK'.

That's an extra interesting element of living in a mobile home; the weather sounds very definite. Not quite as extreme trying to sleep in a small tent in a hooley; but there's an overall sense of movement in addition to the noise..

So don the waterproofs; gather headtorches; go find the drill; and perform a bit of very last minute hatch battening. Screwing shut the polytunnel doors for starters. They catch a gust something lovely otherwise.

Speeding wind has a tremendous capacity to lift sheets of anything....Just as well for those of you in the habit of travelling by air...

Not too much damage come the morning. Some of these thermal crop covers had blown off; but they didn't take overly long to replace.

 Unlike one year; where a particularly strong gale carried off a similar 50 by 20m crop protection sheet. Its weight usually requires two of us big strong farm girls to drag about; it makes us feel a tad like we're being bridesmaids for a giantess .....
 The errant cover was found; 18 months later by a gentleman walking his dog* in the woods over a mile away; across the river

The 'mystery shroud' as described by the local paper, had had its end hacked off whilst it was still hung up in the trees, so no great mystery at all; as to its value; or function; to the person who did that...And a dormouse had used it's hanmmocky nature as a temporary seasonal residence.....But the cover; since retrieved; is still in use here; albeit in its shortened form...

The eventual finder was particularly keen to impress upon the reporter from the local paper, that he was, the (very) proud owner of a Dutch Barge Dog. I'm still yet to meet one of those hounds; but I am prepared to be impressed.

And time, or the dearth of it; in this season; always occupies a growers mind. ..

The art; craft; and science; of growing vegetables does require prescribed timeliness to be observed. In fact it's one of the spurs to getting stuff done, even on days when foul weather is to the fore... A crop takes a certain amount of time to come to fruition. 
Though naturally day length and other variables play their part. And these cropping times can be extended a bit by some tricks of the trade.
  But each vegetable does have its proper season, and if you try to extend too far you will be disappointed.

 Customers understand this on the whole. Although if they've become used to purchasing from shops that offer year round availability of everything it takes them a while to get into the rhythm of things....Eagerly awaited tomatoes or beans or whatever delicacy might be in the offing taste so much better after a break, and picked and eaten when they still squeak with freshness.

The vegetable garden as a whole is a source of timely analogies. And frustrations. At this time of year it's 'all to be done at once; but if the weather isn't playing nicely then patience is called for....But that virtue is hard to cultivate when the greenhouse is filling up and trays of beans are bending perilously whilst they wait outside in the wind.

Onion sets 'Sturon' (7 kg of this variety) should have been in by now, but they won't reward hasty planting, and the planter herself isn't all that enamoured with sitting in the mud to do it....Even whilst wearing sturdy waterproofs..
Half of these went in this afternoon. just in time for the birds to have their fun pulling 'em all out again....Our feathered fiends have a reputation for being a bit 'light' in the brain department... Hard not to agree when you see them going down the line tugging the alliums out... "Is this one a worm? Nope. This one? no, not neither, and so on....

And some timely sowing of sugar snap peas direct outside... Taking a risk with the mice digging them up and eating them. It's tricky to stay sanguine with the whole "Gardening with nature in mind", when the wildlife seem intent on destroying all ones hard work. Legumes are mostly started indoors then transplanted outside later to give them a head start over the weather and rodents.
But I thought I'd risk sowing a short 20 yard stretch outside.

Once upon a time I tried rolling the peas in garlic and chilli powder; prior to planting; as I'd read in some 'weave your own yoghurt; knit your own knickers' publication that this was an effective deterrent.

Devon mice are obviously a bit sharper or possibly hungrier? Than elsewhere... A couple of days later there were delicate little heaps of discarded pea skins with flavouring still attached. The contents having been greedily consumed...Doncha just love nature?  Hmmnn...

Giving Peas a Chance...Just sown ones in the foreground...Fleece ready to recover.... Kitty encouraged to patrol; though she seems rather more intent on putting her time towards guarding the intermittantly sunny porch right now.

And the soil upon which we depend as farmers, and consumers (so that's all of us then) has a factor of time within it. The soil that sustains our livestock and crops; maintains Life on Earth if you will.
 It's formed of course of the underlying bed rock which is very slowly weathered; plus organic matter from old plant material; and any other amendments we make. It takes a long time to make a few centimetres of topsoil; the time will vary depending on the parent material; but all the same; many many years even for the youngest soils....

Then if we hurry cultivations, or misuse the soil in some way, perhaps by leaving it bare at the wrong time of year, we risk losing all those years of gains that natural processes gave to us for free. We can lose it overnight in one calamitous heavy rain storm if it is washed down a slope, into the river and out to sea.. 

But hurry we do; it seems to be hardwired in our being; sadly to our own detriment; and that of nature...

And the capitalists favourite phrase of 'Buy land; they're not making any more' 

Might be  more usefully transformed for everyones' sake into
 'Conserve the soil; it takes lifetimes to make'

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