The First Flower

Had a lovely few hours at the allotment today. It feels like I’ve not been making much progress recently. Heavy rain and gale force winds have made it really difficult to get stuck into the winter jobs around the allotment. I set myself a goal of pruning the apple trees and removing all the dead and old growth of a big pampas grass before the end of January and with there only being 2 days until February, today was going to be the day.

Ready for action

Ready for action

I wouldn’t call myself a ‘fair weather’ allotmenteer, but until recently I hadn’t thought of growing vegetables as a year round thing. You plant in the spring and harvest in the autumn right? How wrong was I? I’m happy to admit that I hadn’t appreciated all the preparations needed over the winter months to make sure that the allotment would be ready for spring. So, armed with my secateurs, saw and a flask of hot tea I braced myself for what was bound to be the coldest visit to the allotment yet.

A cold start to the day

A cold start to the day

My first job was going to be pruning the apple trees. After weeks of scouring the internet, hours watching you tube videos and reading the various grow your own books I have at home, I plucked up the courage to cut back the trees. I’ve never done this before, so I was really worried about not cutting at the right angle, not getting the cut clean enough and how on earth do I tell the difference between a fruit bearing spur and a wood growing spur. It seemed like Mission Impossible. But after taking a little bit of time and a few deep breaths I started to make my first cuts. The trees have been planted at a 45 degree angle and the thought of pruning them has been a bit daunting for me so I’ve not touched them for 18 months. To say they are a bit out of shape is an understatement.

Unruly cordon apple trees

Unruly cordon apple trees

I started by getting rid of the downward growing branches and any that were crossing. Then I started to find I could see the fruit bearing spurs along the branches. Carefully I made sure I wasn’t taking too much off and started to cut back. After a while I found I had made good progress and to my surprise, the trees were still standing! Before I got too carried away with the secateurs I admired my handiwork.

Smarter looking unruly cordon apple trees

Smarter looking unruly cordon apply tree

Ok, I know it doesn’t look like there’s a huge improvement but I promise I had a huge pile of wood that I had removed and if you scroll quickly between the two pictures after a while I’m sure you’ll spot the differences!

After a quick cup of tea to warm me up I forged on with my plan to pull the pampas grass into shape. I have a bit of a ‘love/hate’ relationship with the pampas at the bottom of the allotment. On one hand I love that it gives a bit of height and privacy to the plot but on the other hand it can be vicious.  The leaves are so sharp they’ve left cuts in my arms and today the pampas fought back. Learning from past experience I covered up completely. Everything, except for my face. One sore eye and a broken rake later I admitted defeat.

Pampas grass 2 – Green Wellies 0.

Pampas grass

Pampas grass

In an attempt to cheer myself up I headed to my nature corner and was pleased to see the garlic basking in the sun. It’s great to see it growing, especially at this time of year when the plot is just crying out for a bit of green. Just as I was about to leave I noticed my first spring flower. A lovely snowdrop. It seemed fitting that it had come into bloom with the dusting of snow we had last night. Hopefully, soon there’ll be a few more to keep it company.

Sun worshiping garlic

Sun worshiping garlic

Lovely snowdrop

Lovely snowdrop

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