Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Cloches In The Spring
We seem to have gone back into winter again. It so often happens that February brings a false spring, the birds, the trees and I all feel it. Those days that make you sweat with the burden of winter clothing, tempting you to discard the extra pair of socks and sow the seeds of tender plants, when in your heart you know it's too soon for either. Well it's happened again! Last week was beautiful here in Wales, sunny days, drying ground and bird song. Then last night, however, brought a different story. Cold wintry showers, icy rain and a covering of snow by morning. Yet this is seasonal and I always wonder at my inability (or is it an unwillingness) to expect it. Some of my favorite memories are of these early spring days, so precious, when you can get out and feel the earth returning to life after the little death of winter; when we can start to prepare for spring proper and plan for the year ahead. The cloches which I was making in the winter have already been deployed in the garden with an early sowing of carrots, spring onions and radish to get the salad crops going. The lettuce have just germinated in the propagator and will be planted out a little later, when spring proper has arrived. But when is that?
The old sayings come to mind, "ne'er cast a clout 'til may is out" was always a favorite of my grandfather, a clout being an item of clothing (so I'm told) , suggesting that we should be ready for cold weather, even until the end of May. Then of course there is "Blackthorn Winter" and true enough we often get another cold snap when the Blackthorn or Sloe is in blossom which is generally early April with us.
So cloches are good, warming the ground when the sun shines and conserving that warmth when it doesn't. They also allow it to dry out a bit quicker which is a boon for us in the West of Britain, but when it does rain the water soaks into the ground under them as they are not too wide, meaning less watering is needed in the early summer. Now there is something to look forward to!