Wednesday 11 January 2023

Life on The Weald - December 2022

Life on The Weald - December 2022

and in the kitchen and the garden

Freezing 6 December

After days of persistent rain and strong winds, December began with sunshine and clear blue skies.  Although the daytime temperature was 9C at most, there was no wind and it felt much warmer.   Thursday 1 December was a perfect day to spend on the allotment and a great opportunity to tidy up. The crops had survived the heavy rain and the strong winds.  Broad beans that had been covered with fleece were beginning to show through.

1 December, Broad beans

With the removal of lower branches it was now possible to make a start clearing the area around the apple tree.

1 December, the apple tree

The onions and garlic appeared to be doing well.

1 December - Onions

1 December - Broad beans and garlic

 1 December Garlic

Although the leeks looked OK, they had succumbed to the Allium Leaf Miner and will have to be removed.

1 December Leeks

1 December  delivery of rotted horse manure

4 December, with sub-zero temperatures it was wise to dress appropriately!
4 December

Despite the cold spell I lifted the fleece from some of the recently sown broad beans.....
4 December, broad beans

....they had germinated and were beginning to lift the fleece.

4 December  broad beans

I managed to lift the remaining Jerusalem Artichokes There were far more than we could deal with or store so I gave away quite a few to nearby plotholders and have offered some on the site Facebook page and WhatsApp group.

Jerusalem artichokes

I managed to do a bit of tidying up on 5 December but didn't stay long.  The shed had taken a bit of a battering in the recent storms but was still standing and the roof was watertight but clearly it is at the end of its useful life and isn't worth trying to repair.  Getting a new shed will be a priority in 2023 but I think I will wait until the Spring.

5 December, our sad looking shed

On 6 December I made a brief visit to deliver some Jerusalem artichokes to a couple of plotholders who had requested them and it was a cold but bright dry day.

6 December, looking West

6 December, looking East

On Friday 9 December I made a brief visit to pick some Cavolo Nero and Chard but it was far too cold to stay long.  The weather got even colder over the weekend with snow in many parts of the UK.  There was also heavy snow and resulting traffic chaos in Kent and Essex as well as inland in Sussex, but we saw no snow in Hove, just freezing rain and a very heavy frost.

Later that morning, the sun came out and there were clear blue skies.

9 December

The ice was melting in the subshine but not in the areas in the shade which remained frozen solid.

9 December

I began to wonder if I had been a bit premature in lifting the fleece from the broad beans.

9 December - broad beans

It didn't get any better!  Monday 12 December was the coldest night of the year with a low of -17C in Scotland.  In Hove the temperature fell to -4C.  At home I had intended to plant some tulips in tubs but my potting compost was frozen solid so I had to abandon the idea.  I did have a couple of pots with soil in, where I had grown tomatoes earlier in the year and the following day I managed to remove the top inch or so of soil that was frozen solid and plant some of the tulips in the unfrozen soil beneath.

It remained cold for the rest of the week with temperatures between -2C and 3C in Hove until Saturday 17 when the temperature rose to a more comfortable 8C and reaching 12C on Monday, but with the warmer weather came the rain.  So the weather prevented much work in the run-up to Christmas, just an occasional visit to "feed the worms" - ie take the kitchen waste to the wormeries and pick some chard and Cavolo nero.

In the following days, preparations for the festive season - and sadly a funeral in Greenwich - took priority over the allotment and then the arrival of various relatives for Christmas and the New Year - which was largely wet and windy - resulted in further neglect of the plot.

There were large waves and swimmers were advised not to enter the water in Brighton and Hove but some crazy familymembers braved the cold and took to the water at the sheltered entrance to Shoreham Harbour.

Boxing Day - Shoreham

Boxing Day - Shoreham harbour

I contented myself to a brief stroll to the end of the road and a coffee with grandchildren at Fat Boy Slim's Big Beach Cafe.

with granddaughters Tilly and Kitty

Many people seemed to have the same idea as the cafe was rammed. Strolling along the prom, Imanaged to get a shot of my eldest grandson, Felix, with his Dad, Chris with an obliging, iconic Brighton "Seagull".

Chris and Felix, Hove seafront 26 December

Later in the afternoon the ice-rink at the Pavilion proved an attraction. Tilly and I were spectators but my daughter Zoë was joined on the ice by Felix, Chris, Kitty and our Brightonian granddaughter, Letty.

Royal Pavilion ice-rink 26 December

On the following few days, everyone else was fine, but I was suffering from a bug (and Christmas excess) and didn't see the allotment again in 2022!  

When all the guests had departed it was time toprepare for the arrival of the next lot for the New Year! 

John Austin

Hove, December 2022

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