Winter continues wet and cold – wetter and colder than recently remembered. For the first time in the Annals of Lynedoch, no garden community work has been possible for three successive weeks. Food Garden beds are flooded. The paths are sodden. Weeds are untouchable. But on one morning the view from the Garden was stunning. The near mountains were topped with snow and the air tingled with cold.
In all of this, our winter crops have held up. The spinach has thrived, as have our cabbages. Broad beans took a beating from high winds, but have maintained their growth and are now being harvested. Carrots continue, although recent sowings struggle. The beetroot hangs in, awaiting better times. In the Nursery, the lettuce repays its protection with a surprising serial green display. The celery looks good. The beds of green manure are flourishing in the wet and will shortly break out in refreshing colour. Our new “deep litter” compost beds are beginning to show form, with plantings of spinach and cabbage. The ponds, ofcourse, are in their element. They brim from an elevated water-table and show-off their water-lilies flagrantly (until harvested for the kitchen). The mulching programme continues whenever possible, with grass cut from the Woodland.
The Woodland has been a renewed focus of attention at this time. In particular, its nature as a seasonal wetland is presently open to further adaptation and design. Our first response to the winter flooding of that area, in the early days of the Garden, was to clear and dig out old drainage ditches and create some ancilliaries. We also started to open up the ponds and to plant trees around them. One tree, in particular commended itself, Salix mucronata (Wilgerboom) as an indigenous Salix well suited to wetland conditions. A number were planted around the ponds and soon became a feature with their delicate style and as a hang-out for birds. They are now being planted along the length of the drainage ditch running through the site and in the associated wetland areas. They will contribute to site drainage and remediation and add significantly to the ecological mix. This is a no-cost development! All new trees are generated from truncheons – branches cut from existing trees and dug into wet soil, or sprouted in the ponds. To date one hundred have been planted.
Due to the wet conditions, we couldn’t plant trees during National Arbor Week, but will do so soon. The trees on order from Lynedoch projects and locals for planting, include Vergilia (blossom tree) and Olea Africana (wild olive).
When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. The second-best time? Today. (Chinese proverb)