Gazing out at the vegetable garden at this time of year fills me with a mix of dread and excitement. I know I need to finish spreading the compost and clearing the sprouts which never quite made it, but it is still so grey and wet. It’s hard to imagine sowing anything for months. But spring is edging closer. And there is no more exciting time than the spring! I just need to get stuck in.
Our soil is a mix of heavy and very heavy clay. 50m to the north is greensand, but you’d never know if from our stodgy ground. Of course the clay benefits some crops and it makes hose pipe bans less disruptive, but there are times when I curse our concrete clods. Trying to prepare a fine tilth requires a pneumatic drill!
We have been growing vegetables here for 10 years and last year took the bold decision to put in raised beds. We have 24, each around 1.2m by 2.4m. Our first year with raised beds was good and we’re hoping this year will be even better.
Our main battle is always with rabbits. We are surrounded on two sides by a large field which has enough rabbits to keep the village in rabbit pie for years. If only someone would shoot them! We have a so-called rabbit proof fence (seen the film? Wasn’t it extraordinary), but like in all the best Walt Disney cartoons the rabbits simply sneer and go under it, over it or round it. Suggestions please!
Last year was good for peas, beans, cucumbers, sweetcorn, tomatoes (many of which are still rolling round the bottom of the freezer) and potatoes. This year should be even better, especially if we can confound the rabbits.