Friday 12 January 2024

Life on The Weald - December 2023

 Life on The Weald - December 2023

It was a very cold start to December with the first really heavy frost. Nevertheless I went to the plot to sow some more broad beans, where the red cabbages had been growing, and then covered the area with fleece.  With freezing fingers I decided not to stay too long.

1 December - a new row of broad beans

2 December
As the cold weather continued, I decided to stay at home and spend some time in the kitchen.  I removed the seeds from the bulbous end of one of our butternut squashes and stuffed and roasted it.
2 December -  butternut squash

2 December - roast, stuffed squash
6 December
The cold spell continued and I had to scrape the ice from the car windscreen and despite the cold visited the plot. The temperature rose to 3C

6 December - a frosty morning

I removed the fleece from the garlic which now appeared to be firmly rooted.  The fleece was more to protect the cloves from being pulled up by birds rather than to protect them from the cold.  Garlic does well if it has two months at 0-10C.

6 December - garlic

6 December - garlic

I found some netting to put loosely over the broccoli that was outside the netted cage.  The ground was quite hard on the surface but with all the rain we had recently was soft underneath so I thought digging out some couch grass and bindweed might keep me warm. This is the area where either the potatoes or brassicas will go next year.

6 December - couch grass removed

Back at home, it was clear that Christmas was on its way as the Schlumbergera (Christmas flowering cactus) was in bloom.

 6 December - Schlumbergera 

That evening there was heavy rain and several flood warnings.

7-14 December 
The rain and stormy weather continued as Storm Erin arrived, followed by Storm Fergus  and there was heavy flooding in the Midlands, the North and Scotland.  We escaped the worst but it was miserable weather and not conducive to gardening.

15 December
There was a break in the rain so i paid a visit to a very wet and waterlogged plot.  I had collected a lot of cardboard and laid this where the brassicas will go and covered it with the contetnts of two compost bins.  The compost was not fully rotted but I am relying on the worms and fungus to do the rest. i did then cover the area with tarpaulin as more rain was threatened and I didn't want it to get too sodden.

I also managed to pick a lot of perpetual spinach for a warming sag aloo (spinach and potato curry) over the weekend

27 December
On my last visit of the year, I noticed that the rhubarb was beginning to show through, so it might be time to force it by covering with an old recycling container.

29 December
After many months of delays and cancelled appointments, I eventually had surgery on my right hand to correct Dupuytren's contracture - (a thickening of tissues in the palm of the hand causing one or more fingers to curl towards the palm, restricting certain functions).  Whilst am pleased to have had the operation at last it might curtail my allotment activity for weeks and possibly months.

29 December
The sling comes off in a few days, but it will be a week or so before the dressing and plaster come off and the stitches removed but I will have very limited use for about a month and it will be longer before I can drive or do strenuous physical activity - but hopefully back to full activity for the spring.

John Austin

Hove, December 2023

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