The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Spring. slugs and a love affair

sheep in springThere are a lot of rooks living in the trees around here. You can’t miss the big nests and they’re very interesting to watch. The rooks were hanging out in small groups or alone a few weeks ago. Then they started pairing up. Today, driving to the next village, I saw my first black head peeping over the rim of the nest – a female sitting on eggs. Soon all the nests will be occupied. It’s such a pleasure to watch.

I told Danny about the rooks and their antics a few years ago but he didn’t really believe me. Clearly a more responsible driver then I, he keeps his eyes on the road. He dared to look up for a few weeks and spotted them hanging out and pairing up. One day he came back bright eyed from Newmarket.
“I’ve seen the heads!”

I love Easter in England. I spotted toad spawn in the pond last Sunday The fish have woken up after their long sleep and opened-mouthed, hint for food when I trundle down the garden to check the chickens.

Danny and I walked through our garden together today, enjoying the sunshine, the birdsong and a garden bursting with energy. This is a rare event as his major interest in the garden is his swing seat and the table beside the pond where we eat in the summer. I showed him what I have been doing in the kitchen garden and outlined the plans for major work (moving shrubs next week). We stood briefly in the greenhouse and surveyed the rows of germinated seed trays. He turned to me and smiled.
“Isn’t it lovely in here, and so warm and magical. These tiny plants will produce food for us, if all goes well.”

It is miraculous. We marvel each spring when we see the first tomato seed standing so slim, small and vulnerable in the propagator.

I was obsessive about flower gardens until I discovered vegetable gardening. Growing vegetables is now my grand passion. I want our flower borders to be exquisite but they have to wait in line because the kitchen garden comes first. I can now identify with John Coe’s comment, twelve years ago,
“Your garden is filled with flowers. I just don’t understand.”

I ignored the subtext until a few years ago. Now I am a convert.

But here’s the rub. In spring, everything seems possible in the garden. By June we are battling with slugs. By September, with just a handful of triumphs, I am already planning for next year. Vegetable gardening is an earnest love affair. Flower gardening is a good marriage.


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