Sunday, 19 February 2012

Is it spring yet?

We've had a very mixed up winter in England this year. It was extremely mild in the run-up to Christmas, so much so that I never really got in the mood for the holiday season. It was very mild in the US as well - we didn't even get snow for Christmas in Michigan - and when we returned to Oxford the unseasonable weather continued. Until suddenly in late January a cold snap arrived. For several weeks we had Arctic temperatures (down to -11C) and even a couple of snowfalls. Pretty unusual for England, particularly in this time of year.

But now spring seems to be on its way, and it's time to start thinking about gardening again. Which is why, killing time before a meeting in London, I stopped by Muji for some storage accessories.

I was getting frustrated with the state of my seed collection, which was stuffed higgledy-piggledy into bags and plastic trays. I wanted to put everything in one box, organised by plant type and sowing date. But when presented with all the great stuff at Muji, I couldn't stop at one box - I also found a cute little bag with lots of pockets to tidily transport my seeds down to the garden.

This should help me with continuous planting
so I don't run out of lettuce in early summer

But it is my garden plan that most clearly demonstrates what a neat freak I am. I create a new plan each year mapping out crop rotation - what plants I'm going to grow and where. I've learned that rotation is not strictly necessary with an allotment plot. Allotments are infested with pests, and they'll find your plants no matter how much you move them around. And because I have limited space I can't just leave plots planted with soil improving green manure crops, so I really need to fertilise all the beds each year. But never mind, I enjoy the planning, and it can never hurt to learn good habits.

It is still too early to start planting, but never too early to start planning. And there are already things to enjoy down at the garden, like early spring flowers and even some vegetables.

tulips, grape hyacinth and anemone
my first snowdrop and what should be daffodils
forcing the rhubarb by covering it with a bucket
winter broad beans growing snugly in their polytunnel
Unfortunately not all is sprouting and thriving, and I have already discovered one victim of this year's cold weather. I knew I should have covered my artichokes!

artichokes - grown from seed, so doubly disappointing to lose