Earlier this week I stopped at the school gates to chat to a mum who recently emigrated from South Africa. Even more recently, she'd managed to obtain an allotment plot. The whole thing is very much a new experience for her. In South Africa she had had a gardener and had never tried growing fruit and vegetables. She has also said that she would have feared for her personal safety to garden in an communal space back home. How wonderful if it then that we can enjoy growing our own food as well as appreciate the relaxation and calm that can be found on an allotment site.
With the sun shining on that particular morning she asked me if she was too late to plant out her tomatoes. I assured her not and told her to hold off until the end of the month. It did seem unlikely that there would be another frost whilst we stood there in glorious sunshine. However, the next morning we didn't stop to chat because it was raining... a cold rain that felt as if it had only just thawed out as it was thrown at us by a gusty westerly. Still, having arrived home I was glad the plants were being watered without me having to hump watering cans around. But then, not two hours later, Mother Nature threw a hissy-fit and chucked hailstones at the ground as if she were trying to dig a hole! Forget frost... these were chunks of ice!
Mother Nature was in a good mood again today - a little colder and breezier than I might like but sunny and dry. At this time of year it is all about nurturing. Tiny seedlings are springing up outside on the allotment and in the coldframe and they need to be treated carefully to get them through this vulnerable stage. Inside, tomato, salad and bean plants need to be toughened up ready for planting outside by the end of the month. This means daily having to take them all outside into the garden and then trooping them all back in again at night. The things we do for our babies! We tiptoe around Mother Nature, hoping to stay out of harms way should her mood swing again as she sulks and smiles her way towards summer.