Through the “fog” of the last month, my Smallest Smallholding has continued bursting into life. The fresh leafy green of late Spring is in abundance, there’s perpetual bird song, and colour everywhere. At times it has almost felt like I’m being taunted – all this life and amazement around me whilst I grapple with another one of life’s curveballs – but it’s also helped me through. I think nature has a way of just guiding you through the hard times. It is literally grounding to have a veg patch to tend to, or plants to nurture. I’m feeling OK for now. My cat is responding well and seems pretty happy in herself. We’re just taking it day by day and being really thankful for all the good days.
This year I wanted to try a few new things to increase my growing repertoire. I’m a fan of perennial things since they don’t need so much looking after in the frosty days of early spring, so fruit trees and perennial fruit bushes are always a safe option, in my eyes.
This year I planted in two blackcurrant bushes. Last year’s bumper crop of raspberries meant that I was able to make my first pots of delicious home-made jam, using an exceedingly simple WI recipe. We’ve almost finished the last jar and since I failed to make any marmalade this year we’ll be waiting on the blackcurrants. My crop will be less than modest this year, but next year I’m hoping for a bumper crop, enough for jam, cheesecake (yes, vegans can enjoy cheesecake too) and coulis. Maybe even some ice cream…
In the veg plots I’ve planted my first ever peas – Rondo peas. Peas hold a particular significance for me; I have hazy memories of my grandmother sitting out in the sunshine in her garden, popping peas. I didn’t realise then how much my grandparents would influence the way I am as an adult, but my early exposure to homegrown veg and flowers has shaped the way that I look at the world. So I guess growing my peas are a little homage to my grandparents, and a way for me to relive a part of my childhood where I felt so safe and life was so simple.
The no-dig approach has been working really well for my veg plots so far, and I’ve had to do less than a quarter of the amount of weeding that I would have usually done by now. Everything just looks stronger, nourished and abundant. Our soil turns to sand so quickly without regular rain so extra nutrients being pulled down into our plots has meant less work for me, and I’m looking forward to pulling up big, healthy veg and cooking it all up later in the season.
Spring is easing into summer here, and the Smallest Smallholding is looking better than ever. Our hard work is paying off, although we still have so much to do. Will the polytunnel ever go up?