There is a short period in April when, as a vegetable grower, you feel on top of things and everything looks rosy. This moment of calm, self gratification is very quickly overtaken by a sense of panic once the soil begins to warm up a bit more and the weeds begin to grow in earnest. Most weeds are very good at exploiting the short period that they are given in which to grow and set seed. They have a ‘can do’, ‘let’s make the most of it’ attitude to their lives. A metaphor for modern life. We have one weed at Stowey Rocks which can smother crops in spectacular style, growing a frame which collapses on to surrounding crops. It’s called Redshank and fills most growers with a sense of dread. In fact many would not consider growing on land inhabited by this weed. I could keep you occupied for hours with Redshank tales but perhaps this isn’t the time. Suffice to say that I have great respect for it and it’s ability to survive. Even after hoeing, its seedling needs just a few root hairs in contact with the soil to hang on and continue growing.
We re-skinned our plant propagation polytunnel yesterday which has filled us with a sense of well being in spite of the silent menace of Redshank. Last winter it was torn to shreds in the gales which exploited a hole I punched in it while trying to dislodge snow in 2010. We had become accustomed to its desolation, no longer really seeing the state of it. Very much in the manner that, Remke says, I walk by the pile of clothes in our bedroom every day.
We are coming out of the hungry gap period now with lots of delicious early summer vegetables arriving on your plate very soon, including broad beans, baby beetroot, spinach and wet garlic.