february 3rd 2005

A fantastic run of dry weather is continuing. We are sowing the first of the carrots this week. They will be covered in fleece, which, if it survives the gales, badgers, deer and my dog, will bring the crop forward and allow us to start pulling bunched carrots in June.

We have been spreading muck and ploughing to prepare for the first plants which will be ready for planting at the end of the month. The dry weather would allow us to prepare a perfect seedbed, and, with some sunny days, it is tempting to take a risk on some early sowings of spinach, rocket and even potatoes.

Rhubarb and globe artichokes are already waking up and pushing up new growth. Both these crops are very hungry and need plenty of nitrogen early in the spring. We have spread some well-rotted muck in between the rows and incorporated this, together with the green manures sown last summer, to feed this years crops. The first rhubarb will be ready in April and artichokes (French globes, not Jerusalem roots) in May.

Apart from this, and the regular picking and packing of 18,000 vegboxes a week, we are catching up on the pruning and tying in of the cane fruit and some tree planting around our new reservoirs. Personally I have been indulging a weakness for dry stonewalling when the confines of my office become overwhelming. Much cheaper than therapy it is guaranteed to settle me down when I feel like throwing the phone and computer out of the window. The only problem is that I seem to share this passion with a whole crew of frustrated, closet stone wallers who molest me in my solitude, perhaps it could be prescribed in place of Prozac. Apparently Winston Churchill used to build walls on his "black dog days". I have now been ousted from my job and will have to work on getting satisfaction from the more tangible achievements of my staff. Such is a manager's lot. At least I will be able to go back to my office when it starts raining again. The walls look great. Guy Watson