Om Namah Shivaya
“The never ending stream of love that flows from a true believer towards the entire Creation will have a gentle soothing effect on Nature. This love is the best protection of Nature.”
From Man and Nature by AMMA
We definitely do not show enough love to our plants on the allotment. It seems too easy to get caught up in what needs to be done, rather than how everything is feeling. AMMA tells us to talk to plants regularly and to kiss them as they will repond to love. When we have a lot to do we tend to be more careless, yanking up ‘weeds’ when perhaps we could be gentler. Harvesting kale and spinach leaves with roughness even when these wonderfully generous plants have given us food all through the winter and the up until now. We should be bowing to their generousity, so we will as from today. A useful benefit of these ramblings is that we learn to practice more of AMMA’s teachings as we write them out!
As you all know we have had some unusually warm and dry spring weather during the day, along with some very cold nights, at least until a couple of weeks ago. This has had some effect on vegetation. Below is a photo of blackened leaves on an oak tree in a hedge on our allotment.
We had a late frost on the allotment shortly before this photo was taken, which appears to have killed the new, tender leaves. The tree is recovering. Oak trees have been here for thousands of years, and probably have seen some dramatic weather changes in that time, and are able to adapt to a large extent.
It is very easy to get stuck in the frame of mind that says “sun and warm is good, rain and wet is bad”. But without rain nothing will grow on the surface of the earth. We only have a “green and pleasant land” because of rain.
We have dunnocks nesting in one of the hedges on the allotment. When you are near to it one of the adults may fly in to the hedge, and then you can hear the tweeting of lots of babies. Then the adult flies out and it stops, then another one flies in and it starts again. We don’t want to get too close in case it upsets them, and so we can’t tell you how many babies there are.
Here is another photo of pretty spring flowers.
Out in the countryside the animals are doing their spring time thing. One example of this is shown in the photo below which is of some fallow deer in a large country estate near us. Their spring seems to be spent hanging around with their mates, eating and sleeping!!! These are males, and mostly are starting to grow soft felty antlers on their heads. These will continue to grow and depending on their age the finished antlers will be different sizes and have a different number of prongs. Once the antlers have stopped growing the skin starts to itch, and gets stripped away with rubbing. The antlers at this stage are often covered with blood, looking rather gruesome, though it doesn’t appear to be painful.
It is really all systems go now on the allotment. May is one of the busiest months. It is a race to get everything in the ground in time, either for them to be able to produce food over the summer (as in courgettes, beans, peas and so on), or to be big enough to cope with the winter (as in spinach, kale and so on).
The greenhouse is now full of growing plants: tomatoes, sweet peppers, aubergines, chilli peppers and cucumbers. Most seem to be doing OK, apart from the cucumbers. Three were planted, one died and the other two look a bit sad. We don’t think that gourds (cucumbers, courgettes, squash, pumpkin) like being transplanted. They always seem to take some time to recover. One of the chillis already has a flower on it. Here is a photo of newly planted tomatoes and cucumbers.
The potatoes are growing very well, but in this weather they will need alot of watering to make sure you get a decent crop. The onions also are doing well. A friend of ours who planted her potatoes earlier then ours has very few showing – what is that about? Is it the amount watering, soil type, depth of planting?????? Another friend has not even put his in and he says he will probably get just as much as ours, as we have so had little rain that they won’t have grown very much so far!!!
We have just put in a first batch of pea plants, over 2 dozen sweetcorn plants and sown a bed of beetroot. The books all say the April is the right time to sow beetroot. Every time we have done this we have had found that they do not germinate and have had to sow them again. We think it is because our soil is clay on a slight north facing slope and so it takes longer to warm up in the spring. A lot of gardening seems to be getting to know the conditions of the site that you have, and this can often only be found out through trial and error. We have covered the beetroot bed with builders netting, propped up on sticks to keep it in a bit of shade so by keeping it moist. Our beets are a very important crop for us, so we need to treat them well.
We will also be seeding up some carrots in containers, which in our case are an old metal dustbin, an old water tank and a large cracked plant pot. We have just bought 6 bags of peat free compost and will use this. The carrot fly is really sensitive, and did you know that when you thin them out you have to do so with as little damage to the plants as possible, as the flys can smell the leaves, even if there are no carrots!!!! Remember to fleece them, as mentioned last month.
Our frost sensitive plants such as beans, squash, couregette etc have still not been put out yet. We like them to be a decent size before we do but also there is an old rhyme which says “Cast nought out till May is out”, so we will wait, but they will go out before end May. Other people have already put them out and have been fine.
The fruit trees and bushes all need a lot of watering at the moment, otherwise there is a danger that they will drop all their fruit, which is something they can do they can do when they are stressed, with lack of water for example. AMMA says that all living things including plants have feelings, so it seems appropriate to use a word like stressed for plants, a word which we can all relate to. Our gooseberries which had loads of fruit on them have dropped at least 50% due to drought. The fruit trees and bushes have now been protected from drought by mulching, that is a protective layer of soaked cardboard overlain with soaked wood chip to help keep the soil around the tree or bush moist. We hope this will keep them happy.
We are sure you are all wanting to have an update of our pond. Well there are still tadpoles which are getting bigger. However it is starting to look a bit like spinach soup so no idea how many we have. We are hoping that the green soupness will settle down and we will get some clarity soon. It may just be because it is a new pond, or too much nutrient rich mud on the bottom! We have added more oxygenating plants and a lovely yellow water iris. We can only hope it will be OK.
There is some harvest coming in still, from last years perpetual spinach, kale, spring cabbage and leeks. The new seasons crops are nowhere near ready for harvesting yet. We are coming to the end of our stored onions and garlic and bottled produce is going down rapidly. There may be a lean time to come, we shall see.
In June you can still seed up carrots, beets or swede outside. Directly seed up outside some of the gourds (although do protect them from slugs), or french beans, lettuce as it is quick growing and possibly coriander. The wonderful perpetual spinach can be seeded outside as well, and kale. So there is still stuff to try out, Alot of these can be grown in containers such as buckets, or baths. If you are concerned with appearance then go to a garden centres to a containers. Ther is lots of choice.
Happy gardening and speak to you all next month.
Om Amriteshwaryai Namah
Richard and Kaivalya