“Everything is pervaded by Consciousness. It is that Consciousness which sustains the world and all the creatures in it. To worship everything, seeing God in all, is what religion advises. Such an attitude teaches us to love Nature.”
From Man and Nature by Amma
As the days get longer the wild animals become more and more active. The birds are singing and building nests. Kaivalya’s mother says there are already young blackbirds being fed in her back garden and that is in the NORTH!!!!!! We saw a squirrel gathering nest material the other day.
Spring flowers are also really starting to emerge. We hope you have some nice displays of daffodils near to where you live. The ones near us are really quite beautiful. Many trees are also coming into blossom, cherries, blackthorn, apples, pears and others. We have seen insects emerging from hibernation feeding on these new flowers. It’s a good idea to have flowers throughout the year, not just because they look nice, but because they feed butterflies, bees and many other insects. This is a photo of some daffodils, pear and apple blossom on our allotment.
Another thing that happens in spring is that animals have babies. We don’t have room on our allotment for a flock of sheep, but we couldn’t resist putting in a photo of cute lambs with their mummy! They were seen recently in Derbyshire in the Peak District.
We have dug in an awful lot of manure over the last month, very good exercise as long as you look after your back. We find having a break and doing some stretches every so often helps with back strain.
We have planted out our onions in late March, we went a bit crazy and planted nearly twice as many as usual, that is nearly 250 plants. They are already sprouting, and because of our very fat and well fed wood pigeons we have netted them until they are too long for them to guzzle. If they all survive and grow we may have a surplus, and one of the pleasures of growing food is being able to give some away to people, so that’s OK.
The tadpoles have hatched and are now scattered throughout the pond. It is very exciting to watch them. They seem to be feeding on algae around the edge of the pond and already even though they are very small there are small lumps on their sides where their legs will appear.
In the greenhouse we have made a raised bed out of bricks for the tomatoes and cucumbers. This has now been filled with a mixture of our own new compost, 18 month old manure, old compost from last years carrot planter, leaf mould and coir compost (made of coconut husks). This will hopefully give the tomatoes and cucumber plenty of room to grow. Our tomatoes always seem to struggle, and we felt this may be due to the pots we plant them in being too small. This raised bed took 9 wheel barrows full of our hopefully wonderful compost. We will keep you posted on whether they do better this year. We really want to make some dried tomatoes in oil and tomato ketchup.
Here is a photo of the raised bed.
The perpetual spinach and kale plants having been decimated by ice and snow, have come back into production. They do this every year when winter is over, but the fact that at least some have survived -15C shows that they really are very tough. We are harvesting the young leaves as these are more tender, and picking them young means the plants have to produce more. We did lose quite a lot of our plants in the very cold spell, so there will be a smaller harvest this spring than in previous springs.
We have just seeded up our gourds, that is pumpkin, courgette, and butternut squash. Yes we are trying butternut again, after at least 2 years of dismal failures. AMMA says that in life we have to keep trying, even when faced with things not going our way again and again. So this year we have yet another plan! After it has got to a decent size in a pot in the house, we will plant it out under a permanent mini greenhouse. We are determined to have some lovely roasted butternut squash in autumn.
We are also seeding up our sweet corn. We are also going to do this differently. A large percentage of our seeds often go mouldy so this year we are going to start them off on damp paper towels. Once they have germinated we will gently transfer them to some compost filled loo rolls. These can then be planted out directly into the soil without disturbing the roots. However it is not too late for you to do this, especially you southerners.
May is a time to start seeding up directly into the now warmed up soil. We plan to seed out beetroot, swede, carrot and salsify. The carrots go into containers as the root fly plays havoc with them in the ground, but they are weak flyers and supposedly only fly up to 18 inches above the ground. We say ours up north fly at over 2 feet (especially Yorkshire ones). So not only will they be in containers at least 2 feet high, they will also get fleece fencing of 2 feet to prevent the blighters getting at our carrots. More precious than the crown jewels.
We will also be seeding up our runner beans, French beans, peas, leeks, kale and spinach. The green house by now is beginning to turn into a jungle and there is very little room for us, though they allow us to come and water them.
Happy gardening and speak to you all next month.
Om Amriteshwaryai Namah
Richard and Kaivalya