The end of another year is upon us again, such events seem to be creeping up with increasing rapidity.
The first crop I can ever recall growing was a few Brussel sprouts plants; I was probably about 9 years old. My grandpa used to come and stay with us for a week in the summer and a week at Xmas, he was a man of few words and would sit for hours behind a newspaper surrounded by a fug of thick grey pipe smoke, waiting for the pub to open at 11 am. Off he would stroll for a pint and a quick flutter in the betting office on his way home then back for a late lunch.
On one of these excursions he picked up a bundle of sprout plants and brought them back to me and showed me how to dig the soil and place the plants into their final growing space. I can’t remember the outcome of the crop but I can remember the thought of having to wait so long for anything to happen. I suppose that this one pivotal act from my grandpa got me to where I am today as he would also bring me the odd packet of seeds to sow in what became my tiny garden behind the garage full of junk.
The soil that seemed to be more cinders from the coal fire than soil did manage to produce some sort of crops. But it meant that I had to wait such a long time for anything to happen. Seeds were perhaps the most annoying of all, as you could not see what was going on under the soil so I would have a poke around with a stick to see if anything was happening, I still do that now.
Our farming year does not really coincide with the calendar year as we are still currently harvesting crops that we started to grow many months ago and if I was to rewrite the calendar then I would probably start the year in the middle of February. For our cycle of plant life really begins then with the first sowing of tender crops in the plant propagation greenhouse, crops such as tomatoes, peppers early cabbage and quite a few other things. Mid-February looks a whole lot more hopeful as a starting point: the days are getting noticeably longer, the sun even puts in an appearance some days and there are signs of spring around the place. January the first is just two weeks into winter and nearly always the worst of the weather comes in January, so we like to get prepared for the coldest time of the year, as absolutely nothing is growing at this time.
I was hoping to have written this without much reference to the weather, but as usual I have failed miserably as my thoughts have again been drawn to that calamity of nature that rules our lives to such a degree. We could easily be forgiven for thinking that winter is over and spring has sprung as everywhere there are signs of growth and nature has stirred from what was an incredibly short slumber, if it actually slept at all. It is all a little disconcerting as for every easy act of weather we enjoy, nature dictates that we also have to endure its wrath in the form of extremes and mayhem. The grass is so green and our winter crops are too mature for the time of year and will probably go mad and start to flower way too early leaving us short of produce.
But just as we need to wait for seeds to emerge, we also have to wait to see what the weather will bring us as it is just a part of the waiting game. Climate change is for real but Mother Nature will be fine. But it’s the humans that my not fare so well in the generations to come.