Searching for Some Spring

Across the land snow has driven the spring back in, making this the slowest start to a season since I began to record, if not since records began. Consequently, we’ve never been so prepared, with much of the winter work list fully ticked off, the ground still too wet to do the rest. Courtesy of Cathy and the City & Guilds Gardening class, we’ve even got round to getting the new tomato supports up, a good month – hopefully in more than one sense – before they will be pressed into action. You could have been fooled into thinking we were a highly organized operation, at least until we ran out of string, close to the raised bed’s finish line.

I am slightly ashamed to declare that, in the life of this project, we’ve now got through nine kilometres of polypropylene twine, that’s enough to tether the glasshouse to our distribution and outreach consulate, the Hornbeam Café. Quite what the purpose of doing such a thing is somewhat unclear though, so maybe we’ve made the right move after all, in using it to for plant supports.

Would that we could stitch a lifeline for other organic growers. The Hungry Gap arriving early after last year’s famously poor harvests, the last thing needed was an extended hiatus before the spring crops mature. However much you squint at them, the short-range weather forecasts don’t look too pretty: air temperatures of less than ten degrees do not a growing season make.

In the top corner of my little office pinboard is a quote from one of my organic growing gurus, Ian Tolhurst: “If you worry about the weather, you are in the wrong job”. I try to follow this teaching, and, like all religious followers, I am careful to find the loopholes in the text: there is nothing in Tolhurst’s commandment that prohibits one from being grumpy about the weather, for a start.

With the light growing and the sap rising, it feels like spring’s tightly coiled, ready to burst forth as soon a temperatures pick up. Stephen, Kate, Ian and I got the glory leg, finishing the heavy mulching of asparagus beds and paths, and right away I could hear the soft spears starting to stir. All we are all waiting for is for someone to bring us a bit of sunshine…

Perhaps it’ll be the ten rescued hedgehogs Stephen will be bringing from South Essex Wildlife Centre. Or this year’s flux of trainees. Usually, they start in April and have to hit the ground running: this year, Aimee, Jen, Olivia, Paul, Rob, Holly and Kristen will begin, next week, pretty much at the beginning. The seeds that have been sown sit, pent, on the glasshouse staging, the first stage of their brilliant journey. Unworried and unhurried.

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