The fifth of November.
Saturday, 5 November 2016
Guy Fawkes Day. The daylight hours that precede the celebrated Bonfire Night.
Today, a smile grew across my face as I walked to the allotment garden. A smile that says ‘I love days like this’. The strange, lingering mildness of late October had finally broken.
No sky—no earthly view—
No distance looking blue—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds—
– Thomas Hood
Not today Mr Hood, not yet.
The warmth had certainly gone. It had been replaced by a cold, still air and for the first time since the autumn arrived, the sight of my breath in misty plumes.
Above me, a beautiful blue sky with the sun casting a hazy glow over the allotment. There were flowers too – My neighbour’s Dahlias still in full bloom.
I love days like these. When the weather decisively hints of the impending winter. This is a day to be on the plot – a day of preparation.
As always, I arrived with a plan. A key task. One thing to focus my efforts on and enable me to walk away with the sense of achievement; of moving forward.
Today was paths. I’d aimed to complete the wood chip paths on the established half of the plot within the time I had available today. I didn’t quite get there. It’s surprising how long it can take and how tiring is can be wheeling barrow load after barrow load of wood chips onto the allotment garden. I am nearly there. Two narrow paths between a bed to go and that will be that.
We are lucky at our allotments, that a local tree surgeon delivers mounds of wood chips for free frequently. I have plenty of paths to create yet, so it is a pleasure to have the amount of wood chip available. However, if you have more wood chips than you need for your own paths, Alys Fowler has written a fascinating article for The Guardian: How to turn wood chips into a great compost heap.
Come the end of my next visit, the half of the established allotment will be how it was before the summer. The weeds have slowed and the beds have been cleared. The Rhubarb has retired from the wonderful show of growth put on in its first season and so there is only the clearing of its dead leaves to deal with.
There are signs of life. The garlic planted two weeks ago has clearly enjoyed the mild close to the month of October and is saying hello through the soil. The cold weather will steady its enthusiasm now, but below the surface of the soil, the plants will establish their roots, building strength for the first sign of Spring.
The completion of the paths leads to the excitement that I now have the rest of the winter to make headway with the other half of the plot – building new beds and digging new paths. You may wonder at my enthusiasm for what will surely be hard graft? Indeed, it will be hard work but hard work carried out at the right time.
The hard work is also a stepping stone to growth. The growth of the allotment garden and more importantly, the growth of a whole host of fruit and vegetables. Time is on my side. I just hope the weather will be.