This morning I made a list of things to do in the garden which was basically to decide where the rhubarb, melons, asparagus and leeks were going to go and prepare / make some beds for these. My dad had written that he’d posted the asparagus on Friday from Jersey and although it was only Monday I decided to go for that first as it seemed the most work and despite the sunshine it felt quite cool so perfect working weather. My first choice of position had to be abandoned – the sunny days have made our clayish soil rock hard already so there was no way I could start another bed. The only bed available was earmarked for the leeks but it was weed free and workable so I set about making an asparagus raised bed. The edging bricks are rather ugly but I’m planning to put some herbs and flowers in their holes. I’d just put in the manure and taken a photo when blow me down the postie pulled up with a large bag of asparagus crowns! I covered the manure, plonked the spiderlike plants on top and covered them with soil and lots of water. The compost they were in was still slightly damp so I’m hoping they’ll be fine, will let you know in two years’ time!
Meanwhile I was getting a bit concerned about the Jersey Royals. The potato plants that Luis had given us were now twice as tall and covered in flowers even though they’d been planted weeks later. After some googling last night I discovered that flowers aren’t always present, and it doesn’t mean there aren’t any tatties down there. It also seemed that if you leave the Royals in the ground too long they start to lose their waxiness and become floury. So with some trepidation, and excitement, I rummaged under one of the plants that had looked rather sorry for itself last week (although it was now looking much better with loads of new leaves) and found a potato – a perfect looking good sized potato. So I pulled enough out to have for lunch and picked some mint too:
To be honest I wasn’t sure how they’d taste. They hadn’t had the seaweed mulch they get in Jersey, and other websites I’d been on said they’d failed. Well, I’m happy to say that with some butter and mint they were lovely, perhaps not as fantastic as the ones I’ve had in Jersey but delicious never the less and well worth the effort. Thank you, sis! And sorry, Richard (again!) For those wondering why I’m not sharing these first harvests with Richard – he’s back home and I’m sure enjoying some Manx kippers. Back to the garden…
Things are coming along on the house fine – although every time we visit the builders we have to correct something (too late for all three north facing doors which inexplicably are not quite in the right place…) and today we stopped the downstairs loo being the same size as the study. There seems to be a (healthy?) disregard for the plans which lay abandoned on a large wooden barrel along with some beer bottles.
We did a quick tour of the garden to see how things were coping from the recent deluge and it was lovely to see tiny signs of spring growth on all the fruit trees we have planted, they all seem to be working. But the biggest surprise, nay astonishment, came when I looked under the potato cloche. I have now planted two groups of Jersey Royals (although they can’t legally be called that now), the first lot less than three weeks ago and the second lot last Friday, and the first lot have sprouted – already! In just over 2 weeks! Now I am sure (Richard not) that some of you would like to see the proof so here they are on Feb 5 and then again Feb 24:
Mmm, I can smell them boiling in a pan of minted water already…
The euphoria surrounding last week’s concrete pour on the roofs has quickly dissipated. After getting the roof done, the builder said that we had to leave it for four or five days to set. Fair enough. But now a week later he has told us he won’t be back for another week as he has to finish another job! So two weeks of inaction on the house has left us non plussed to say the least.
However, work continues on the garden and the raised beds are perfectly manicured, ready and waiting. In fact, Jackie has planted our first veggies. Jersey Royal potatoes specially flown in from Jersey (actually posted here from her sister). They should be ready in about three months. And the strawberries are also bedded in and raring to go.
Jackie has also been busy in the kitchen. We rediscovered a huge pile of walnuts the other day which we had picked in November and she made a delicious walnut cake. So delicious in fact that Furface, the local moggie who has adopted us, sneaked in and snaffled up half of it while we weren’t watching.
I’ve also been busy utilising my great strengths – brute force and ignorance. I’ve finally removed all trace of the former pigsty. In its place we’re going to build a little outdoor dining area with a trellis which will be dripping with vines. That (hopefully) will be going up next week, so look out for the pics.
Finally, a good sign that spring must be on its way is that a tiny wren is building a nest on our balcony. Here’s a pic of the wren and a blackcap who came for a butcher’s.