It’s a beautiful day, not too hot, but sunny and still. Through the window are the sounds of wood pigeons, bluetits and blackbirds, along with a high-pitched cheeping I can’t identify but is delightful, nonetheless. There are a few noises that suggest something has landed on the fence…it’s a collared dove which flies off, its wings whistling in that airy way, as it sees my face. I think it might have seen the tomato seedlings just below, quietly taking in the early afternoon sun.
I had a tray of seedlings ready for transplanting yesterday: having manhandled about 40 pounds of spent mushroom compost over a mile by foot to my house, and purloined a few small pots, no longer needed by some friends, I was able to transfer 11 of the best ones for hardening up in the cold frame (made from scrap wood and an old back door). This year is the first time I have gone beyond the purely experimental stage, and attempted to grow food as a going concern. This year, if everything goes well, I should have small crops of potatoes (planted in a new raised bed, to improve the clay soil), spring onions (not yet planted), leeks (planted ages ago, but only just fattening up), radishes, spinach, beetroot (can’t stand it, but my wife and eldest child like it), French beans, rhubarb (picked and eaten), broad beans (in flower!) and the aforementioned tomatoes.
This isn’t really self-sufficiency — I need a lot more space for that — but it’s a serious learning process which, if my mind remains sound, will help me to understand the cycles of nature and the ecosystems that govern the growing of food far better. It’s all very well buying local food, but there is nothing quite like knowing what you eat came from your own efforts and knowledge: every time you grow something, you learn something.
And yesterday we had Spanish omelette, with a big helping of fried nettles, straight from the patch at the end of the garden — I must remember to always wear gloves!