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Vivi’s Kitchen Garden 79: Don’t panic!…and green manure.

It feels like Spring is just around the corner…..and that there are too many jobs to do….but there’s still time to prep the beds and enjoy some quiet time with the birds.SAM_1804

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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’.

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Dream a little dream with me

Can you feel it? That tingly feeling…….it starts in my toes and in my fingers…… sometimes in the tops of my ears…..and it spreads rapidly until there are butterflies flitting abodaffodil_flowers_189916ut in my belly and bees buzzing around in my heart. It starts about this time of year…..just when the days are getting a little longer and the air is getting a little warmer. Once my internal butterflies and honey bees start doing their thing something else happens…I get springs in my feet and find that instead of walking I start bouncing and skipping……and I begin to realise that I am grinning for absolutely no reason…. Yes, my dear friends, it’s clear that I have an acute case of spring fever. The sap, both literal and metaphorical, is rising.

I’m not much of one for New Year’s resolutions…..but about this time each year I suddenly have the urge to make grand declarations about all the amazing things I want to achieve! It is about this time each year when I decide I really ought to run a marathon, write a novel, paint a masterpiece, learn the ancient art of origami and generally become a more brilliant and interesting version of myself….the version of myself who shoots into the stratosphere  and reaches for the stars.

Nature is playing the naughty on us all and tricking us to do her will; of course, after a few days of euphoric super womanship, I crash back to earth…..but I crash back with a bit of stardust in my hand; I have a renewed vigour and determination……and I put it all into my soil and my seeds. As I till the land I talk to it and to myself and remind us both that the possibilities are limitless…..we just have to do the work.

This is the time of year when anything seems possible…..we have no idea how our  seeds will turn out…if our soil will give us yet one more good crop…..but it hardly seems to matter……all that matters is that, once again, we plant in hope, we plant in excitement for the future, we plant our dreams and believe they actually could come true.

Spring is finally here. I am sowing not just my seeds but another year of hopes and dreams. I hope all your dreams sprout with mine.

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It’s been a while – old friends

We all have them….the friends we adore and who are so important to us but who somehow get lost amongst all our other commitments. You know how it goes; a couple of weeks without seeing each other becomes a couple of months…..and then more time passes….and then more time….so that getting in touch begins to feel uncomfortable. Then, one day, you realise just how much you miss them and you arrange to meet up.

It’s a little awkward at first; realising how much you’ve missed out on, feeling guilty for leaving it so long, feeling, perhaps, a little resentful of the missed months….but the awkwardness passes in minutes, you pick up where you left off as if no time had passed at all. You remember how much you love your friend and how good they make you feel simply by being in their company.

…and that’s how it has been for me and my beloved kitchen gardeSAM_0497n. At first I had an excuse not to visit because of the accident that damaged both hands but for the last five weeks one of my hands has been better…..and yet I still didn’t return to my oasis. I guess a part of me was worried about what I would find, worried that my unvisited patch would take revenge on me for neglecting it for so long by throwing up huge weeds and rotting winter veg…..

I shouldn’t have worried. Yes, we had an awkward first few minutes….did my broad beans actually turn their leafy backs on me when I arrived? Were those pesky little weeds laughing at me? No matter. I sat amongst my broad beans, gently weeding between them and gradually I began to feel forgiven. The garden hasn’t fared too badly without me over the last three months but I think that’s because I put so much work and love into it last autumn. Yes, there is much to do as we race towards spring…..but my little patch of soil is still feeding me…….and, as if to say ‘thank you for coming back’, that soil yielded me the gift of parsnips and carrots as I was leaving.

Gardens, like good friends, will forgive and always take you back….so if you have neglected yours this winter go and make a visit…..you may be surprised by the gifts your old friend gives you.

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Of mists and mellow fruitfulness

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I am a summer girl. No two ways about it – I love the summer; the heat, the light, the explosion in the kitchen garden, the buzz of the insects, the long drawn out nights.

A summer girl I may be…..but I love all the seasons for their differences. I was walking through my kitchen garden today and marvelling at the colours. The colours never mind the vegetables and I thought of Keats and his ‘mellow fruitfulness’……I was assailed by yellows from the fading sunflowers (the seeds will be shared between me and the birds), the fading oranges of the nasturtiums, the pale ‘nudes’ of the squash just desperate to be harvested and turned into gorgeous orange soup, the insipid green/yellow of the beans drying on the plants…all around me was a variation of yellow/orange/red.

In the spring time we have the acid colours; the tips of green, the flowers of yellow……I love to see them because they are a reminder of what is to come. By summertime the colours have become the primary palette that children know; bright dark green, pops of cherry red, pimples of raspberry pink, flashes of bumblebee bottom yellow…..with splashes of jewels in-between (corn flower blue makes me weak at the knees)…..and then we fade in to this autumn hue of….well…..burnt out, done in, fading yellow glory. It is sublime. But the best is yet to come.

Most folk tuck-up their kitchen gardens for winter and think of Christmas and all the hulla-balloo…….and leave the soil behind for a few months. But the wise amongst us know that the winter beds will feed us still and repay us with the beautiful colours of winter: red cabbages, touched with frost….the darkest of green, crinkle edged Savoys, the almost blue/black of the Cavolo Nero, the purple veins that beat the hearts of our brassicas….

The ‘season’ and the colours are never over……