The last two months have been a litany of toppled trees, torn tunnels, ripped roofs and endless floods: some sort of Armageddon! I am writing this in the flickering candlelight; imagining the blackouts during war time, waiting for the sirens! In my four decades of gardening I have never endured such violent weather. Nature with all it’s beauty has a dark side too.
Now without my polythene tunnel I am prone to lamenting- February is usually the month I eagerly commence sowing. I have not enjoyed the annual burst of excitement on receiving my seed catalogues. Spring has never felt so bleak. Luckily some kind friends are allowing me to use their glasshouse to start my seeds. I have retained several varieties from last year: many are in opened packs but have been stored carefully in biscuit tins. Regardless of all else these little gems of hope have survived. Once the temperature rises above 10ºC, I will sow the hardy varieties such as: Lettuce, Rocket, Mizuna and Purple Sprouting Broccoli. New additions I plan to grow this year include Wild Garlic, Red Pak Choi and Purple Pod Mangetout Pea.
I have made numerous attempts down through the decades to source my favourite Lettuce- ‘Suzan’ a beloved variety from my childhood. It was the very first vegetable I harvested to sell to our local shop in Cloyne, East Cork; all under the guidance of my father. On a recent visit to my friend in Tipperary who is studying organic gardening and was eagerly browsing the online seed sites, we spotted it. She added it to her order and promptly posted it to me. It makes me nostalgic; I finally get a chance to grow Lettuce ’Suzan’ again. If my memory serves me right this butter head variety has a soft, gentle texture and a very large white heart!
There is endless tidying up to be done outside. Fallen trees and shrubs which have their root system intact may be replanted, staked and braced once the storms have passed. The earth is saturated so I will not be surprised if some of my herbaceous perennials such as Lupin or Poppy have rotted.
To my great delight my goldfish produced lots of tiny babies late last summer. Unfortunately the water table rose rapidly; lifting the pond liner. Alas, I reckon many of those little ones may have escaped and gone swimming down the field. The original adult gold fish have doubled in size and seem to thrive in the nutrients added by the constant rainfall.
The other positive thing about this harsh weather is the cleansing factor. Hopefully every pest and disease will have been wiped out or drowned, including those nasty vine weevils that lurk in our pots nibbling the roots of our precious plants.
I am expecting the season to run late, crushed daffodils may still bloom. I await the arrival of wind-borne migrating birds, the fittest will survive. Nature may catch up, as for me: well I can only try!