Is there such a thing a as strawberry joy? Well if there is we are experiencing it this year. After years of disappointment due to wildlife attacks despite trying all sorts of cunning ways of beating them- nets, cages, hanging planters …
This year we are enjoying a bumper crop and have a clear conscience as we have not harmed a single mouse, bird, snail, slug or squirrel. The solution is growing the plants in large pots, filled with beech leaf mould, and placing them high on old trestle tables in the polytunnel.
We have enjoyed and shared the strawberries and following this year’s success plans are afoot to increase the number of pots and to try and have a big enough crop to make jam next year.
And our second moment of pride is that the swallows have checked out the new open sided barn and have built a nest – the first we have ever had. So let’s hope next year we will have a gulp of swallows as well as a glut of strawberries.
It’s always hard coming home after a lovely holiday. There is the thought of work, routine and things to be done, But as soon as the house appears and we enter the drive there is that feeling of homecoming and familiarity and then there is the excitement of seeing what has happened in the garden – always the first thing before unloading the car or checking the house.
When we got back today I was amazed at how things had grown in eight days. Yes the weeds have done well but so has the garden.
Roses, delphiniums, hollyhock,sweet peas on long stems and mesembryanthemum which bring back childhood memories of lying on my tummy watching the flowers open as the rays of the sun warmed them only to close again when a cloud passed by.
Next stop is to check the vegetable garden and greenhouse to see how things have fared. And as usual there are the successes this time- lettuce, radish, cucumbers, courgettes and potatoes. The french, broad and runner beans are looking hopeful but where are the parsnips? They are usually one of our best crops and as for the peas it will be a meagre crop.
But after unpacking there was a real sense of satisfaction and living the good life when we picked and harvested and then we sat in the evening sunshine and ate a completely home produced meal (well except for the mayonnaise). We enjoyed an egg salad with lettuce, radish, basil, rocket and potatoes. Finely chopped courgettes with a tiny red onion and slivers of freshly picked cucumber. Maybe coming home from holiday is not too bad!
The weather has been so fickle recently – one day sunny and warm the next the hail is bouncing off your face. But today as I went for a walk at lunch time I was filled with optimism as I saw a carpet of wood anemone in the wood so, despite the chilly wind, I was optimistic.
Imagine my delight when I got home in daylight and wandered down the vegetable patch and there in front of me was purple sprouting broccoli… suddenly the evening menu was looking brighter!
Within 20 minutes of spying the broccoli it was picked, popped in the steamer for about 5 minutes and then enjoyed by everyone. The first harvest of the year – yes spring is finally on its way!