Covering the glasshouse salads with a cosy blanket of horticultural fleece last week, gave a real sense of putting the garden to bed for the midwinter. The same fleece draped over the containers and trollies of chillies and figs, however, lends the warehouse a Dickensian feel, though more Great Expectations than Christmas Carol: shrouded in white web, they are ghost plants in purgatory, waiting to see whether Jack Frost pushes through the walls this year.
Our vegeboxes today carry the real gifts of our potatoes, chilli garlands and salad bags to our members. “This is as bad as it gets”, I told Mary, our new grower, as we picked and packed chilled salad with frozen fingers last week. Possibly it isn’t: but still, I am grateful we won’t be doing it in January. Harvesting will cease; there will be an inward focus; and I’ll be away for a while, the earthing of Christmas and New Year with kith and kin followed by roamings in Andalucia, in search of almond blossom, lost settlements of inspiration, perhaps a promising chilli cultivar.
The Hawkwood midwinter celebration on Tuesday was a merry occasion, with almost sixty of the volunteer team in attendance. Alongside great food, song, speeches and forest escapades, was “The Ghost of Hawkwood Future”, a guided unveiling of the 2012 planting plans. After three years, it’s good to be at a point where we’ve sort of worked out what works out. So next year we look forward to tweaks rather than wholesale changes. There will be a couple of trial tomato cultivars alongside the firm favourites; squash again, some with a twist; potatoes “Arran Victory” make a triumphant return; and we hope to be awash with salad leaves.
So much to look forward to: new faces; mainly old friends. Happy New Year.