Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Green manure

“It’s snowing.” Those were the first words my husband said today when we woke up. (Correction: Those were the first words he said when he woke up and energetically tried to make me do the same.) “You can’t be serious,” I answered. (He later clamed it sounded more like “mnuff, mfff, hmmm” since my answer came from under the pillow but that he interpreted (quite correctly actually) the answer as “You can’t be serious”. A tribute to long relationships.)

Winter has been a strange season this year. Globally it has apparently been the coldest winter experienced for centuries. Here, on the other hand, it never really started. November came with rain and winds. December came with rain and winds. January came with rain and winds. February came… You get the idea. By February we started not only to grow gills but also to give up hope of any snow. Ridiculously enough other parts of the country have had the snowiest winter ever.

Well, anyhow, spring was on its way. The snowdrops flowered, the light had returned and the birds were singing operettas. (They do you know. In spring, it’s operettas. Zoologists may claim the birds defend territory and are looking for mates all they want. Listen to them, I say, and no mistake can be made – operettas.) The rather large pile of soil I ordered last fall was slowly beginning to thaw and getting ready for use. Everything said “SPRING”. Then the second shot came from the starter and the speaker said “false start”. Redo. A white cover of it all. And a little more time to think and plan.

This year the kitchen garden will be the pride of the garden. Growing frames have been placed and filled with soil. Now the last are to be put out. And, at last, after more the ten years of planning and thinking (all right, I am a slow starter, I know) I will grow asparagus. And beans. And grapes. The grapevine was planted last year actually. The Latvian Zilga thrives, even in our cold climate. The beans fell victim to a painted house. They were planted. Even got a trellis to climb. Then came a period of paint buckets, brushes, ladders and paint – the house was to be repainted. And suddenly there was frost and more frost and the beans, which ought to have been harvested weeks ago, started to look more spotty black-brown fingers than the lush green pods they are supposed to look like. A rather extravagant version of green manure? But hey, that's me. “Forgot the beans? Nah, it’s fertilizer - Phaseolus coccineus ’Pickwick’ (runner bean).”

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