Spring in the House Garden
by Johannes Liventaal
As winter finally turns away its cold gaze and spring takes over, we rejoice in its light. No more walking home and to work every day on icy roads, no more feeling like the warmth of the sun or the song of birds has become a distant memory. We welcome spring with its awakening colours, sounds and newly-found inspirations.
For the House Garden team it means we can finally roll up our sleeves, set our feet firmly on the soil and start the task of getting the ground ready for planting. One of many unique qualities of the House Garden is that it traps all the cold and warmth; so the soil, being frozen for a long time, presents a lot of challenges as we quite literally have to fight our way through with pickaxes to harvest the last of the crop.
Waiting for the soil to unfreeze isn’t the first step in beginning the spring season though; planning for spring in the garden actually begins as early as January with ordering the seeds for the vegetables that are being planted.Then the plan for the crop rotation has to be made. The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the garden each year. This reduces pest and disease problems and it organises groups of crops according to their cultivation needs.
As the first snowdrops appear, we are greeted with another sign of spring as the farmers bring us a present - a big pile of cow manure! Then we take our pitchforks and wheelbarrows and start spreading the good stuff where it’s needed. Along with our excellent garden compost it is all an extremely fertile mix that helps to bring about the lovely vegetables that make their way onto our kitchen tables. The first to go into the ground are our early potatoes, followed by broad beans, parsnips, salads and the summer cabbage. Later on come brussel sprouts, peas, second early potatoes, runner beans, french beans, florence fennel, celery, carrots, leeks, courgettes and more and more salad.
Getting the ground ready for planting all these vegetables is hard going, but as the heavy work of digging, cultivating and spreading compost and manure takes place there is plenty of room for quiet jobs for daydreamers. If you´re careful you can catch a deer running in the nearby woods or hear the buzz of a bumblebee while quietly weeding or tidying up the strawberry plants; and come tea break time you can now be outside catching the sun and watching the geese as they fly north. If the weather still turns out to be bad, you could be inside doing jobs beside a warm fireplace or working outside sawing, splitting or stacking wood.
While running up and down the garden with wheelbarrows and buckets, you will still find time to stop and smell the roses , since springtime also means our flowers begin to greet the sun and blossom - daffodils, irises, lilies, primroses, bluebells, pink bells and snowdrops all start appearing in different corners, brightening up the garden.
Once the work of planting is done and the garden is blessed with the spreading of the biodynamic preparation, you can take a moment to step back and feel good about the work you’ve done. As everything looks neat and tidy, we are reminded that this will soon change with the coming of summer when the weeds start cropping up everywhere and a lot more work will have to be done. Guided always by the wise words of Peter Smitton, we are never disheartened as we bravely look toward summer.
Special thanks for the help of Peter Smitton and everyone in the House Garden!