Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. ― Carl Sandburg
I used to learn off poems with my dad. He had a phenomenal memory and could still recite poems he had learned in school. My mom dreaded the learning of a new poem. I used to start at the beginning and repeat the poem until I was stuck, look to see what the line was, and then go back to the top. To this day she still cannot stand to hear The Sands of Dee by Charles Kingsley but is slightly better with An Old Rat’s Tale by Laura E. Richards. Slightly.
I sadly cannot remember poems I learned in school. Some time ago I got Mr. Fairweather a copy of Soundings – the poetry book used in school back in our day. We are so old, they have reprinted our schoolbooks as a classic. I am going to go back in time, sit down and immerse myself in poetry more often. One of these good days. When I have time. A sick toddler sadly is not really conducive to reading poetry. Except perhaps for this gem that is my new favourite poem.
A Poem for Mornings
Coffee, coffee, coffee,
Everyone shut up.
In case you haven’t guessed, I am mainlining coffee at the minute. Mr. Fairweather has been flat out working and it’s often just the Little Paddler and I here. I haul myself out of bed in the mornings once she has decided she is up for the day, put the coffee on before letting the hens, ducks and guard dog out of their enclosures and stick on a River Cottage DVD. Hugh of River Cottage fame has kept me sane on the wet days and inspired me to sit down and work out a plan for next year. It can’t keep raining. The sun will have to come out eventually, won’t it?
So, in the evenings, once the fire is lit, Little Paddler and I sit down on the floor with paper and pencils and a pile of books (The Low Maintenance Vegetable Garden, Grow Cook Eat and Companion Planting) and begin to plan. We started with the flower beds and moved on to the outdoor veg beds I am planning. Five beds hopefully which divides up fairly well into the five main families which need to be rotated.
- Brassicas – cabbage family
- Alliaceae – onion family
- Leguminosae – pea and legume family
- Solanceae – potato family
- Umbelliferae or Apiaceae – carrot family
Other families don’t need to be rotated and can be squeezed in wherever you like and left there if you wish. These include:
- Compositae – daisy family
- Chenopodiaceae – beetroot family
- Cucurbitaceae – cucumber family although these have to be rotated if you are planting indoors
- Others – unrelated veg
This first year I am trying to be fairly rigid about what types of vegetables I grow. I am only growing what I fancy eating myself and am not planting things because I think that might be a good one to try. I am also sticking only to vegetables which are known to be easy growers. I am quite capable of making enough hard work for myself without choosing plants that will add to that.
In the first I’ll plant my Alliaceae and Umbelliferae – check me out using my big fancy words in a sentence. In reality that means, I’ll try onions, leeks and garlic, carrots and celeriac. Growing these two families together is a good way of using companion planting at its best. My dad used to always break off a bit of garlic or onion leaf before thinning carrots as the smell of the former would mask the scent of the latter from the carrot fly. I’m not going to bother trying scallions this year. I’ll simply sow several onions together and harvest some young to use as scallions and leave the rest grow on to develop bulbs. I have warmed in the last year or two to celery but it is notorious for bolting and I know myself too well at this stage to think I’ll manage to grow it. Celeriac is a lovely fuss free alternative. I might also squeeze in beetroots with them. I have only recently discovered the joys of roasted beetroot with pork and beetroot brownies.
My second bed is going to be my Leguminosae bed. And I want lots of them. Fortunately they all seem to be easily grown so I am opting for peas, French beans, broad beans and runner beans. I am thinking that I’ll rig up a fence or framework that runs down the middle of the bed and have fins running off it either side to add stability and give my climbers more space to ramble. Down low then I can squeeze in lettuce, spinach, chard and maybe a few beetroot if I don’t have space in the first bed.
My third bed is my Brassicas. That’s my cabbages, kale, calabrese, broccoli and oriental salads. This bed may end up jammers as everything takes up a good bit of space and stays in the ground for quite a while so I might have to keep the oriental salads in pots closer to the house. But that’s not a deal breaker as maybe it’ll encourage me to use them more often. I am not sure yet how we’ll keep the rabbits away from these but I’ll plant nasturtiums among everything to distract the butterflies and caterpillars. Cabbages and garlic don’t do well together so I’m trying to keep at least one other bed between them as I rotate.
I am going to devote a whole bed to my spuds – because I married an Irishman and he loves his spuds. Last year I attempted the Great Spud Experiment in my tunnel – disaster. This year we’ll go old school and traditional and plant them outside. Most of the rest of the Solanceae family, such as tomatoes, aubergines and peppers I would normally grow in the tunnel – but that planting plan is a whole other project. So we’ll try first and second earlies in the hope that by sticking to earlies, I can get them harvested before blight weather hits.
My last bed is a bit of a hodge podge. I love courgettes. I love them in stir fries or tomato sauces. I love them in cakes – you have carrot cakes so why not courgette/zucchini cakes? When they get big and turn into marrows I use them in chutneys. Do not – I repeat – DO NOT waste your time making marrow jam. Yuck. So a couple of courgette plants should be enough and a few pumpkins because I am determined to get these growing for me one year. Eventually. But I also want to try Jerusalem artichokes. These plants are a bit of a thug and will slowly take over a garden if not contained so a raised bed is probably ideal. They are an upright plant and it’s the tubers that you eat. Conveniently, they aren’t due for harvesting till after the courgettes and pumpkins are finished fruiting so I think I will chance combining the two this year and see how it goes.
So that is my plan. Am I dreaming of flying when I am made to be a swimmer? Perhaps. Time will tell.
The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness. ― Christopher Morley