I opened my daughter's bedroom curtains this morning to be greeted with the view of spring below. In the right corner our plum tree in full blossom, to the left our cherry tree with buds close to bursting then just over the fence on the allotment a greengage tree in glorious white and an ornamental cherry in full pink. What a beautiful sight and with so much promise of things to come. It made me itch to get out onto the allotment.
It was after lunch when we finally headed off. Having weeded the strawberry bed last weekend my first job of the day was to plant the 6 strawberry plants I had bought from Lidl's last week into the few spaces that had appeared over the winter. Do you remember the cardboard packaging that came with my jam jar deliveries that we thought we might use as strawberry matting? Well, my next job of the day was to lay that out around the strawberry plants. It went down very easily and seemed quite secure despite the strong winds today so so far so good. I'm hoping it will help to retain moisture, suppress weeds and keep the fruit clean but we will see.
By the time I had finished that task, Steve had finished rotavating the bed I'd dug over last weekend. During the week I had bought a tray of growing salad from Lidl's for 89p. 89p! What a ridiculously cheap price! It's supposed to be used as a windowsill supply of fresh salad but last year I tried dividing it up and planting it out and it was superb - a cheap & easy way to grow instant salad. I'm not sure if it's a little early to plant it out but for 89p it's worth a try so I found a space for it.
In the meantime, the girls were busying themselves in their imaginative worlds. My youngest skipped around the plots picking dandelions and fashioned them into dandelion chains and wove them into her hair to transform herself into a bridesmaid. None of the other plot holders are in the least bit bothered about her picking dandelion flowers from their plots and all in all she offers a useful service.
My eldest, the more serious one, busied herself with a fossil hunt in the pile of gravel that someone had had delivered. It may sound unlikely but in fact she has managed to find quite a hoard of Jurassic sea-creature fossils. She spent half and hour with her father in the week examining the specimens from last weekend's hunt under a hand lens. Who enjoyed it more? The enthusiastic 8 year old or the ex-Geology lecturer? A close run thing.
With the salad in, my next job was to sow the peas. I had 8 varieties of peas to sow including mangetout, sugar snap peas, petit pois and purple flowered. This year I'm experimenting with different supports for peas. As well as the traditional twiggy pea-sticks, I'm growing the tallest plants over a metal rose arch and I'm using posts with horizontal wires between for some of the others. This is the method my grandad used and in fact they are the same posts, which he gave me shortly before he died but which are still going strong.
The final job of the afternoon was to pick the asparagus - the first of the season and just enough for a couple of meals. Back home I steamed the asparagus and served it with lamb chops, boiled potatoes, leeks from the plot and leek-gravy. The 2nd day of April and we already have two homegrown vegetables on our plates - love it!