Garden leave

With the garden having been under water for – count ’em! – seven whole days – and no jokes about rice, please – there’s been precious little to do in the garden last week. It was also pretty cold – never got above 4°C – so little point planting. Since I was preoccupied by marking the exam papers of England’s youth, it didn’t bother me too much. It did make me reassess my plans for this square of land – not much point planting things in it that don’t like a really good bath in cold water every so often.

I am seriously considering investing in a growlight. Yes, I’ve got that geeky. Just imagine how much more stuff I could grow! I’ve been overwhelmed by the fact that some dedicated growers can get so much out of less than I have. One guy got 6,000lbs out of 1/10th of an acre. That’s just insanity!

I’m also trying to increase the range and variety of the things I grow as well, so that I’ve got a real balance. On one acre, it’s feasible to get 75 different varieties of things, if a little crazy. We’ll see. I’m not sure I can do 400 varieties when it’s just me!

I definitely think the spring worm has turned. Yesterday on my walk, it was too hot for a coat – just jumper and t-shirt weather – and I saw three butterflies. I think it was 11° or so. Unless we have a lovely snowy surprise, it would seem that the worst is over. At least, the butterflies thought so today. There’s plenty of gorse in bloom round here as well.

Wouldn’t it be perfect if you could plan the weather according to what you needed? I’d kind of like to have rain one day a week, or even two, and then beautiful blue skies like I had today. Don’t mind seasons, just don’t like moisture overly much. It’s why I live here.

In the city, there’s so much to do when it’s wet. It’s why I’m convinced that Manchester got all industrialised. There was nothing else to do.

When it’s persisting down, it reminds me a little of Kyoto, the rainiest place I ever was. I spent a lot of time hiding under umbrellas. The great thing about it is that there isn’t very much wind and so you can have all manner of nice umbrellas. Everyone in Japan has an umbrella, it seems, and there’s never spoke rage when you accidentally get hurt by one.

img005This is at the Heian temple in Kyoto. See how disciplined the umbrellas are? In England, it’s not like that. Umbrella use is akin to wielding a sword in the UK and I’ve sustained many an injury. Not only that, but in Manchester, the rain doesn’t just ‘fall’ – it kind of permeates every part of your being. In fact, an umbrella is more of a sort of shield. In Japan, you can make the most of the rainy days.



This is by the canal at the side of the shrine. It was just about in walking distance from where we stayed. I guess you can understand a little of my fascination with blossom when you see pictures like these.



I think I need to dust my scanner and rescan this though! Lots of dust specks…

Anyway, I’m feeling very glad that I took advantage of the mid-winter hiatus to get some stuff done. I can’t say I enjoy the rain like I did in Kyoto, though it was even more lovely when it stopped. Japan is a very watery country, it always seems to me. Despite the neon and pachinko parlours, much of it is very muted and soft. Despite the shinto orange, for example, it all still feels very gentle.

I hope the rain holds off this week and my garden can dry out a little so that I can get on with my preparations. I’m just thankful I’m not under snow. It was this time last year when it all descended and didn’t disappear again for way over two weeks.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!



16 thoughts on “Garden leave

  1. I think it’s still too early to say spring has established itself. The weather could easily turn cold again. Hibernating insects like certain butterflies will always emerge on sunny days, and there will always be some gorse waiting for them — gorse has a mechanism by which there is always at least one gorse plant in a clump in flower. It’s a very important plant ecologically.

  2. There’s a work your way around the world website (can’t remember the name). But they are always looking for people to accommodate students/ workers. They will work on your land or home in exchange for food or board. Most stay two or three weeks, you can stipulate how long someone can stay, even months if you want!. Have you ever though about using help like that? Not even mentioning the cultural exchange benefits.

    1. The scheme you are thinking of is wwoofers most probably. There are a couple of other similar. They can be fantastic, or dire, depending on the personality of the wwoofer you end up with. I’d quite like to get one for our orchard — we don’t have enough work and my idea would be to share with 2 or 3 friends. Simon’s not keen though.

  3. Thanks for that little film … I loved it. I so wish we were allowed chickens in our city. Well actually, what I’d love more is to have a teacup pot bellied pig, but alas, neither are permitted.

  4. I have a friend in the UK who is coming over to France with her partner this year as ‘Wwoofers’. She actually gave me a link to another site for people who have recently moved house and need help with jobs in the garden etc, all you have to do is provide board and lodgings. Sounds great unless you don’t like the person who comes to stay !!

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