Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When Icicles Hang by the Wall

WHEN icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipt, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tu-whit! tu-whoo!
A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all around the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tu-whit! tu-whoo!
A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.....(W Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost)

I've spent the last day of the year doing some of the above...

gardenTom wasn't about, so I had to bring the logs into the hall myself.....
The milk wasn't quite frozen when it came home....
But the blood was certainly nipt, earlier this morning....
And Joan wasn't here either, so I also had to keel the pot myself when I made the potage.

It's been quite cold here, particularly overnight and early in the mornings when temperatures have dipped to -5C (23F), although, as I write this, at about lunchtime, it's a very pleasant 19C (66F).

I'm still not able to spend too much time in the garden although I have managed to collect some wood for the fire and wander around looking at things and planning for the year to come.

broad beansI've spent many hours thinking about what I might grow next year.....  I certainly want to grow tomatoes again and I have some seed saved from last year which I hope to use.  I ended up with about 20 plants last year, growing in various places,some in the ground and some in pots.   I think this year I shall probably go for 30 plants, all growing in the ground.    I can't decide whether to grow them all in one bed or whether to plant two or three different beds.

I also grew some beans which weren't very successful, but I'm going to try again.   Patrick over at Bifurcated Carrots has given me some more Dog Bean seeds and I have high hopes for this year.

leeksBefore winter really bit.....  and my foot fell apart.....  I planted some broad beans and they are doing really well, standing up to the cold well and now standing almost 150mm  (6") tall.

Back in September, whilst Kate from Hills and Plains Seedsavers was here on her Vegetable Vagabond tour, we planted leeks, onions and fennel all of which are showing good promise for 2009.   I also planted some broccoli seedlings but I have been constantly fighting a battle to stop them being eaten and during the past few weeks, whilst I have ben laid up, the eaters have got the upper hand...  I'm not defeated yet, but I have  suffered a heavy setback.  I have left one of my Chinese leaf plants go in the hope of saving some seeds.

I also sowed some peas under a mulch of about 150mm (6") of dead leaves in early November and I was delighted this morning to see the first few plants pushing their way through the mulch and finding the light of day.

chinese leavesElsewhere in the garden, things are coming back to life with lots and lots of buds appearing on various plants and shrubs.

Some of you will know that I am planning some significant changes here during the course of 2009 so it is a time of excitement for me as I look forward across new horizons.  In particular, I am proud to be hosting the first Kitchen Garden International Global Event in September 2009.  One of the many things I am truly looking forward to.

I wish all of you a very happy New Year and a wonderful and productive time in your garden.   Remember the Growing Challenge and try to grow an extra crop this year.   One thing that you haven't grown before.   I haven't decided yet, but I'm very tempted to try and grow cucumber.   When you're as new to growing vegetables as I am , then this particular challenge is not so very taxing .....  but I do wholeheartedly endorse it.

Have a great Year

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Walk in the Garden

It's now almost 3 weeks since I had my operation and today, I'm pleased to say, I was able to take my first tentative steps back out into my garden.

I'm still not very strong and only managed to walk for about 10 minutes but I was out in the fresh air and enjoyed it a great deal.

It's been particularly wet here in November and December and I was very surprised at the number of mushrooms flourishing under the trees.

It was raining gently and I soaked up the feeling of at last being able to, once again, enjoy the garden.

A red squirrel played as I walked.

It's going to be a few more weeks before I can actually get out and do any work in the garden but it was nice, today, to get out there again and start to plan for 2009, a year of change for me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Little Victories

Some months ago my good friend Kate over on Hills and Plains Seedsavers wrote a piece about Little Victories and over the past couple of weeks, whilst I have been unexpectedly hospitalised, I have thought about that piece and about the Beccy Cole song, which I adore, a great deal.

Kate says how important Little Victories are to life and happiness and I have measured, and continue to measure my illness and subsequent recovery with Little Victories.

I had a serious operation on my foot under a local anaesthetic where just the lower half of my body was anaesthetised and my first Little Victory, was, in the recovery room when I, at last, was able to move one of my legs a little again.   Then, subsequently, I had the Little Victory of regaining movement in both legs and being returned to my room.

I particularly remember the Little Victory on the day the nurses took out the IV from my wrist, freeing me to move without trailing a rack of bottles behind me....

And then, after another few days, I had the Little Victory of being discharged from hospital into a convalescent home.

I was taken by an ambulance car and on the way I remember the Little Victory of having a nice chat with my driver...  Of course, he didn't speak any English so we conducted the chat in French, which is still a foreign language to me.

Then the convalescent home decided I was well enough to go out each day for a couple of hours and I started to come back home, although some days there was hardly time for a cup of tea before I had to return but it was nice to be out in the world again.....another Little Victory

And yesterday, I was discharged from the convalescent home and I returned home...the biggest Little Victory for me....

I'm still not fully recovered and will have to take things very easily for another month or so.  However, I will try and get back to walking in my garden and to writing about it.

I would like to thank Kate for posting the piece to let you all know where I had gone and also for writing about her Little Victories and introducing me to the Beccy Cole song.

A line from the Beccy Cole song goes:

You can see the Little Victories shining in their eyes..

Well, it's the Little Victories that have helped me feel whole again and are shining in my eyes

Thank you Beccy Cole and thank you Kate

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Stay in Hospital

Ian has asked me to put a post here explaining that he is in hospital, recovering from a recent operation on his foot. 

It has gone well but recovery is expected to be slow. Consequently, he may not be able to post for a few weeks or until French hospitals and health  centres get wi-fi! 

Now, I wrote before about the lack of clocks in airports...well, it is a disgrace that French hospitals don't have do they expect bloggers to carry on with their lives without it?

All the best Ian..... take care and come home soon.