Thursday 17 January 2013

From 'None' to 'A bit of a...'

There is a well used Irish turn of phrase about the evenings getting longer which goes "Ah there's a  grand stretch in the evenings!" We have even seen a spoof website which alleges that there is a NASA department tracking when the country moves from "None" to "A bit of a stretch" and so on. What ever the truth, the evenings are definitely getting longer and nightfall as far as chickens are concerned is now drifting out past 16:30 and off towards 17:00 p.m. (except on miserable, dark, rainy evenings when sometimes it's even as early as 15:30). Spring is on it's way.

For a good while now we have had daffs and narcissi breaking the surface; these in the picture are from a big net of bulbs given to us by Steak Lady on one of their visits. We are hoping for a good show of colour from these mixed species.

Also breaking surface now are the white tulip "Concerto" planted into three big tubs in mid October, now standing on the concrete plinth under our western gable end of the house.

All around the place there are new leaves coming on shrubs and buds expanding on fruit bushes, all be it these have been in the ground since last year and were still fairly active when they either died back naturally in the autumn or were browsed into submission by passing sheep.

It was definitely the sheep who defoliated the clematis shown here but sheep tend to carefully nibble off leaves and there is enough plant left to recover.

We have had no such recovery or bud break yet from the trees delivered already dormant and bare rooted, now sitting in the orchard, but if memory serves, bare rooted trees have to have a few weeks of getting roots down before they attempt any above-ground stuff.

Another sure sign of Spring is that the seed packets have now been delivered, so we can start with that lovely job of spreading the packets out all over the table to sort, plan and stroke them. These ones came from Irish seedsman "Mr Middleton Garden Shop" (Mary Street, Dublin) as part of our joint order with Mentor Anne, mainly (in our case) so that we could secure our Sarpo Mira, blight resistant seed potatoes. I added in my mental list of spring onions, brussels, beetroot, carrot, leeks etc to bulk us up into the 'free delivery' stakes but left beans and other stuff to buy in Spring.

Mr Middleton not only does his own range of seeds, but is also the Irish agent for Thompson and Morgan and plenty of his varieties have already been 'proven' for Roscommon by Anne and Simon whose conditions are very similar to ours. I am doing all my veg in the raised beds which I am currently digging this year, so I hope I will have a season free from too much waterlogging. Wish me luck.

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