It’s the perfect time of year to get on with some maintenance jobs: cleaning tools, pots, greenhouses, fixing fences and leaking shed roofs etc…..and sowing just a few seeds to get things kicked off. I’ve never had any luck with sweet peas but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying.
It is fairly well known that I love my shed. Sheds, one could argue, are the epitome of British allotment life…….as we travel through the ‘burbs on our commuter trains we see the allotments……and then we see the sheds; neat and tidy or ramshackle, Heath-Robinsonesque structures that even Robinson Crusoe would be proud to call home.
These little structures give shelter to our most prized tools: our spades and forks, our riddles and assorted pots and trays…..they house our battered old biscuit tins full of seeds and our other biscuit tins full of, well, biscuits. Sometimes our sheds are big enough for a chair…..and we dash to them for shelter from the unpredictable British weather. Some of them are so tiny it takes a planning committee to get a trowel into them. So much is our obsession with our sheds we even have a national, televised competition devoted to them.
But our sheds are so much more than store-houses for our tools and teabags. They are sanctuaries, a ‘room of one’s own’, far away from the madding crowds. The beauty of the shed (or mine at least) is that there are no phone cables, no computers, no emails…….my shed is silent. Silent….but for the creaking floor and the hiss of the gas as it boils the kettle. Some people spend a small fortune on a foreign holiday to ‘get away from it all’…..I go to my shed…..for free. I sit in my shed alone…and dream. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I fill my shed with friends and drink tea and dunk biscuits until the sun goes down…..but mostly I just sit….and listen to the quiet.
I’m planning on building a new shed this year and I can’t wait. In my mind it will be something between a mountain cabin and a beach hut….in truth it will probably look more like Mr Crusoe’s hide-out.
No matter. It will be a room of my own. But you’re all invited of course.
The days are getting a little shorter….but the to-do list is getting longer:
Remove/compost plants which have stopped producing.
Dig over the empty spaces, weeding as I go (esp. perennial weeds!)
Prepare empty beds for sowing of green manures.
Sow green manures.
Sow overwintering broad beans.
Continue to harvest (leave enough time to cook/bottle/store).
Prepare spaces for storing/get bottling equipment ready.
Check winter crops for disease/pest damage etc and remove/burn diseased plants if any.
Dead head flowers to prolong/start gathering seed from those gone over.
Clean bean poles/other supports ready for storing.