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April in the Kitchen Garden

After what feels like months of thumb twiddling and sitting on hands there suddenly don’t seem to be enough hours in the day – it’s all systems go in the kitchen garden.

April is one of my busiest months: the indoor sown seeds will need to be pricked out (tomatoes, celery, sweet peppers etc), more indoor sowings need to be done (the squash and cucumbers), out on the soil the beds are now ready for some direct sowings. The beds have been SAM_0857tickled over and given some compost and chicken manure then raked over to give as fine a medium as possible for tiny seeds to sit in. I will start to successionally sow the legume bed with various climbing beans and peas starting about mid-April as the soil warms up then every two weeks or so until mid-June.

One of the biggest differences in the garden now will be the temporary structures that need to go up to support the climbing veggies…….the garden will become a forest of bean poles, looking a little forlorn until the plants get going. I love it when the structures go up……they tantalise me with the promise of things to come.

The shed is gradually emptying of all the pots, trays and assorted bits and bobs stored over winter…….so it’s a great time to have a bit of a tidy and clean up……and maybe even get a couple of top coats of paint on.

And, of course, we’re into grass cutting season and weeding time – the speed with which the grass and weeds grow never fails to amaze me. There really aren’t enough hours in the day!

Happy April gardening everyone.

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Taking stock…..and taking stock

If I had known, last year, what I know now would I have done things differently? Possibly. Probably not. A few tweaks here and there but nothing major. This time last year I was just grateful to be in the garden at all…..with my little broken wings……I had no idea I was on a course for making a huge decision. The fact that I wouldn’t do things differently gives me confidence; over the last couple of years my little patch of soil has shown me it can feed me and nurture me and keep me whole.

This time of year is known as the ‘hungry gap’: the time when last year’s harvests have been eaten and this year’s are yet to grow. I have, by trial and error, over a few years, learned how to keep myself going over winter……with the stored produce and the veggies I can keep going in the ground during the cold months. It is about thiBroad beanss time of year when I go through the cupboards, the freezer, the shed to work out what’s left and what I can make from it……

So……it is this time of year, once more, when I take stock of what’s left, what goodies there are to be turned into meals:……..but I find, as I weigh the beans and count the onions and clock the bottles of toms and eyeball the squash…..that I am quietly crying…….I stop in my tracks. I’m actually really crying and I can’t turn off the tears, the little sobs catch in my throat. ……I realise, I am taking stock not of my veggies….but of my life. I slump on the kitchen chair, nursing my tears and slowly I begin to see it…….. I have been in a ‘hungry gap’ for years…….my belly has been full, but my soul has been depleted…to the point of starvation. I am empty, totally drained….and empty.

I no longer know who I am. The little moments in the kitchen garden have kept a tiny heartbeat going…..but I don’t want a tiny heartbeat…..I want a thump, thump, thumping beat. So I have decided to follow my heart….with it’s quiet little beat. I have decided to feed my soul. I have decided to look after myself for a while. I have decided to let the kitchen garden look after me this year……and walk away from the job I love but which doesn’t love me back.

I don’t know what I will do or what will happen next……but I know whatever it is that I will give it my all and I will find myself again. I know that I will be living true to myself. I know that the sun on my cheeks, the air in my hair, the buzz of insects, the beautiful flashes of colour in the garden…..the company, the tea, the thrill of the harvest, the smell of damp soil, the solitude, the birds that sing to me…….the simplicity of simply being…..will feed my soul and restore me.

The garden has it’s seasons……this is the season of newness, of life, of growth. We all feel it. After many springs my spring has finally come and I will grow once more………I hope your spring is happening for you too and that you find a way to fill your ‘hungry gap’.

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Spring….decisions, decisions.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions….as such. Why would I want to make decisions, change things, shake up my ‘norm’ on a cold, dreary day in the middle of winter? No. My new ‘resolutions’ start with spring.

Spring, like my choices, life decisions, creeps up slowly….and then, one day, BAM!….it’s here. I do not need a calendar or a news report or an ‘app’ to tell me it’s spring….I see it and I feel it. I see it in all the snowdrops and daffodils that shake their pretty heads at my feetalone-2…..the first big dollop of colour in months. I see it in the fattening buds on the trees that I walk past on my way to the garden. I hear it from the birds, brazenly staking their claims to the bud ridden branches. I see it in my soil……I am convinced I even smell it in my soil.

But, most of all, I feel it.

It is unquantifiable….but there is something about spring that stirs me, deep inside. It actually messes with me. This is the time of year (not New Year’s) when I start to wonder about past decisions, begin to make new ones…..when I begin to feel the need to stretch my wings, inhale deeply and take off with possibilities. And soar.

I find it hard to make changes, to make big decisions but, somehow, being on the soil makes it easier. I don’t know why I experience such clarity of thought when I am in the garden…but I do. Perhaps it is the alone time. Perhaps it is the perspective gained by watching nature do its thing…… by watching and trusting in the cycle of life…. Spring is a time of massive change. But it is a positive change…it is a time of new growth, new vigour, new life. It is a time of optimism. Time in the garden rubs off on my soul and makes me more brave…..to embrace newness and change.

Happy springtime to you all. And may your spring gardens inspire clarity for your difficult decisions and for your ‘new year’s resolutions’.