Nothing but blue skies……
With high pressure over Scandinavia and the jet stream well to the south the northerly air flow has turned the islands into a frigid riviera. Long sunny days and balmy temperatures of 5°C, which in the lightest wind become a chilly 1°C, are perfect for brisk walks along the beach but hopeless for vegetable gardening. So until the soil warms to a tropical 10°C, between seed sowing and dreaming of summer, there is time to enjoy the skylark’s serenade and watch the lapwings sky dancing.
The green shoots peering wistfully between the brown stalks of last years flower stems promise future delights and allow the spring bulbs their moment of glory.
The vegetable beds remain dormant under their winter blanket of seaweed with only the spikes of garlic and clumps of chives tough enough to brave the winter sunshine. The buds are swelling on the currants and gooseberries and there are tender ruby stalks of rhubarb ready to be transformed into crumbles.
The garden may be “plump with promise” but “a promise is a comfort for a fool”. The hungry gap looms and the cupboard is almost bare: 2 sacks of potatoes, 14 garlic bulbs, 2 celeriac and half a red cabbage. Two bags of broccoli, 4 of cauliflower, 6 of broad beans and 2 of tomatoes in the freezer. The spectre of scurvy hovers and not even a nettle shoot in sight!
This glorious sunshine may nourish the spirit but makes a thin soup. Fortunately all is not lost – there is beetroot, spinach and Florence fennel in the polytunnel, soon to be supplemented by early carrots, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, winter lettuce and radishes. With the heat of the sun the temperature in the tunnel soon soars to 20°C, but with night-time temperatures falling to 0°C and below, delicate seedlings have to be coddled and wrapped in fleece.
It is easy to get impatient and although I know that, provided that weather gods are not too unkind, in May I can stand in the garden and watch the plants grow, my fingers itch to sow yet more seeds. So instead I will turn my thoughts to tonight’s supper (celeriac gratin, mash or gratin?) and meander down to the garden to see if there is enough rhubarb for a breakfast crumble.