Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Searching for Spring
Today was one of those days that I needed to get outside for a breath of fresh air. Sitting in front of the computer or busying myself in the kitchen could take up the rest of the afternoon but who knew how long the sunshine would last. I always imagine that the world is on hold during the grey days of January and February and can really start to feel like I've been cooped up for too long.
On my way out I checked on the seeds I sowed two weeks ago. They've sprouted in the warmth of the dining room and little threads of leeks, shallots, and onions, and tiny leaves of tomatos are spending their days leaning toward the direction of the winter sun. I make sure to turn the seed tray they're in every now and again so they don't permanently grow at an angle. I also have to admit that I made a bit of a mistake with the lettuce sowing - I placed the entire tray on the floor one day when I needed the table and then forgot to put it back in position. The lettuce seeds grew quickly and finding no direct light source they've now grown tall spindly stems. I may have to start over with those.
Outside it's sunny but very cold. The same sunshine that filters through the windows and warms your skin has absolutely no warming effect in the winter breeze. The hens seem comfortable though and move from standing on their sundeck to bedding down in shallow holes they've dug into the run's floor. It's fortunately been a quiet day with them after their great escape yesterday. If you didn't already find out about it from my Facebook page, we had a bit of a shock yesterday morning to find all the chickens roaming through the back garden. It was windy the night before but we figure that the Hubster forgot to latch the back of the coop after he cleaned it out. We got them all back inside without too much hassle though - I stood in the stream on the other side of the hedge rattling branches and the Hubster slowly herded the flock back to the open door of the run. All went in except Willow who decided to hop back through the open door on the coop.
It was a shame to have to put them back in since they were having a ball scratching through the grass and leaves but they're so small that we worry about the cats...or even worse, Sam the neighbour dog. He's crashed through the hedge a few times and can be a nuisance. It's these fears rather than ones that they'll run off that keep us from allowing the chickens to roam free. I'm not sure how successful our growing grass in the run will be after having so many chickens though so we're trying to think of a safe way to give them access to the garden come spring.
All over the garden I can find signs of fresh green life bravely popping out into the cold. My modules of garlic are growing by the day and even the catalogue-bought cloves have begun to break and send up leaves. I'm also becoming aware of all the buds I see around me and in particular those on my blueberry bushes sitting out by the front door. They'll be planted in the allotment in early spring but have weathered out the worst of the weather here in a much more protected spot. I have a feeling that the little nook by our door is much warmer than the surrounding areas anyway since the single pot of geraniums I left out are still green and alive.
Two months ago I also took some Redcurrant and Blackcurrant cuttings from one of my allotment neighbour's plots. I traded the 'whips' against one or two Cape Gooseberry plants that I propagated in late summer and hope that I'll get a good half dozen bushes to plant out in Autumn. The image above shows some blackcurrant whips that I planted in deep containers close to the house. By the looks of their buds they're alive and growing but I won't be sure if they take until I see leaves develop.
The cats love when we go outside and they followed me out today to trot at my heels like little puppy dogs. Cheebers is particularly good at photo bombing and Louis makes his baby-lion wail and rubs his little head on any door or board you happen to be standing by. We're a bit concerned that he's gained a lot of weight over the holidays and prefers to have long lie-ins under the duvet until around 11 these days. Typical teenager right? Fortunately on bright days like today they're both outside enjoying the dry weather and watching the birds singing in the trees. It's good exercise so hopefully Louis trims up or we'll have to put him on a diet.
Most of the new shoots I see tell me that won't be long before we see Daffodils, Crocus, Snowdrops, and Tulips gracing our lawns and borders. It will be then that we'll be sowing our first real seeds for outdoor plantings and putting finishing touches on our garden plans for the year ahead. I have a lot of work to do in the garden but right now feel like it's still a time to wait on anything other than construction work and enriching the soil. I've ordered over 200 bales of mushroom compost for the allotment holders and we're also expecting two deliveries of farmyard manure shortly. I predict I'll be up to my eyeballs in it by this time next week. It's a funny thought to be so excited about a load of poo!
I hope that the sun is out for you too and that you're able to enjoy it whether you're strolling around your own garden or inside at your desk and looking out the window. Spring is officially here in six weeks but today it really seems like it's just around the corner.