Saturday, 7 January 2012

Last of the Christmas sprouts

The garden equivalent of a spring clean happens now. 

No point waiting until the lambs are bounding in the fields, the eggs hatching in the nest and the clocks going forward. By that time, you'll need your hands free to be planting all those seeds that you bought in earnest last year, only used a few of and have had sitting on the shelf hoping that they're still good for the following year.

Besides, third on your list of new year's resolutions was 'keep on top of the garden'. 

Yes, third. Right behind 'keep on top of the house' and 'keep on top of the finances'. Also one ahead of 'get fit', which is now dropping down the list of resolutions because it is so passe. Anyway, rather than join the gym or hire a personal trainer it's much more fun to get fit by taking up an allotment, doing an active sport like climbing or having more sex. Sorry, and having more sex. This may be a gardening blog but I wouldn't want starting an allotment to ruin your sex life.

I digress, but for fear of a solitary life, I've not yet taken up an allotment. Instead I've been out there in my garden, still pruning, cutting and clearing. 

Today it was time to cut back the raspberries. I learnt last year that once raspberry stalks turn brown, after a year's fruiting, you have to not just behead them but cut them off at their ankles. 

It seems quite brutal. A waste of so much potential fruit. Surely there is some value in keeping the stalks say half way up? But no buds means no fruit, so off with their heads, shoulder knees and ankles.

Raspberries are the femme fatale of the fruit world so don't - as I did - feel bad for them. They seduce you to let them grow, and then they wrap themselves around the heart of your garden bed until they totally control it. They smother the space and light around, and it's not until you put them back in their rightful place that you suddenly realise what else has been hiding.

And in my case, raspberries had been supressing a line of garlic and a red onion. I was certain that the limited garlic and onion I planted last year had been harvested, but no. Treats revealed themselves as I cut back the tangled raspberry stalks. Clear ground has shown healthy sprouting and I'm truly stumped how this has come about.

Did I plant more than I realise? Do bulbs split underground? Are these the runts of the litter? Or is the mild weather allowing growing conditions where normally there would be no signs of vegetable life? I have no idea.

Once again, the garden has surprised me with its voracious ability to produce food for the table. Tonight, I feel a lucky lad.

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The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.