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HANNAH FINCH: Battening down the hatches

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

  • Planting: Garlic 'Solent White'

  • Harvesting: Dried french beans

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LAST Sunday afternoon, I spent an hour preparing against winter. Everything was chilled to a standstill save for the birds who flitted in the leaves and branches.

It was so quiet that I could hear the beat of their wings.

This was a battening down of the hatches for the pot-grown olive tree, the parsley and the beetroot which are still in the ground.

I was pleased to read beetroots, like other roots, can remain in situ provided they are protected from the hardest frosts.

I have made a protective tent of wire and carpet underlay to cover the row so I can continue to enjoy the roots well into winter instead of relegating them to the pickling jar.

This quiet day has also given me time enough to shell the french beans whichare now fully dry.

It is thanks to the cool dry dark of my new potting shed I have been able to harvest these shiny rot-free beans ready for either sowing next year or for the kitchen.

This is no industrial scale operation, there is enough here for a meal or two at most.

But I have so enjoyed the process of making the very best of what my garden has given me this season.

I have also started to look ahead to next year with the garlic sowing.

I picked up a fat bulb of Solent White to create a row or two besides the over wintering parsnips.

This crop thrives on frost to form the cloves and I hope will benefit from a pre-Christmas sowing if the weather stays reasonably dry.

I was almost dark by the time I had finished sowing and had started to pack away my tools.

I went into the potting shed to write the label and adding the date, wondered how many years I had been doing exactly this.

I remember thinking when I first started gardening more than a decade ago I always wanted to be excited by this, to revel in fresh wonder.

I realise now no matter how much you know or think you know, there is yet more to discover.

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