Contraction and Expansion

Can you feel the earth, air and temperature around us contracting and expanding?

It’s like this part of the planet is taking deep breaths and waking up.

Here the mercury is rising and sinking to between minus two and 18 celsius.

I haven’t got a thermometer by the way, that was just metaphorical.

But the wild swings in temperature are real and I also feel as if I’m stretching and contracting between the deep inactivity of winter and the first stirrings of spring.

Walking through Buckenham Woods with my friend, Gel and her dog, Tom, who is older (in dog years) and even more doddery than I am – soon this will be a carpet of bluebells

I’ve been on a couple of short walks and last Tuesday, with lots of help from my friend Alex, prepped two of the four main veg beds by hoeing the few weeds there were and laying a very thin two centimetre layer of homemade compost on top.

This is the joy of “no dig”; low maintenance and a healthy soil. We have, as you can see, some nice white peacock kale and purple sprouting broccoli as well as some self sown herba stella and claytonia or winter purslane which is good in salad.

I finally sowed my broad beans in home made compost – one seed per module.

I’ve succumbed again to germinating a few tomato seeds (Baby Plum and Tigerella) I saved from last year’s crop and some Lemon Drop Chilli which should bear a fragrant citrus flavoured fruit that is very tasty and adds a zing to salsas.

The seed I’m using was saved from these “Lemon Drop” chillis a couple of years ago

I was given some Candy Tot and Tumbling Tigress tomatoes but because I am not sure if they’re an F1 variety or not I’m holding back on sowing them as they may not come true.

I was a little disappointed in the crimson flowered broad bean seed – there were only 32 in the packet – normally you get at least 40

Seeds should be planted at a depth twice their size; so I pushed in the bean seed fairly deep and covered it. Then in another half of the tray I scattered the tiny tomato and chilli seeds three to a module on the surface of the compost and covered with a very thin layer of the same.

You can see tiny tomato seeds which I then covered with a little compost and watered in with a fine rose watering can so as not to disturb the compost too much

I’ve brought them into the warm laundry to get them started.

Our gardener, Sarah, is back after a winter break and has pruned the apple and pear trees which now have much more light after the removal of the Bramley apple tree and a Victoria plum tree next to it. Both were diseased and, despite previous attempts, were beyond help.

The prunings have gone on the new dead hedge which is filling up fast.

I’ve been enjoying more Ikebana (Japanese style flower arranging).

Just walking around to select the material I’m going to use has given me a new appreciation of the garden.


The daffodils are just about to burst into flower and the snowdrops are still holding their own – a couple of weeks after first opening their little white and green petals. How they managed to survive the cold snap two weeks ago when we had snow and temperatures as low as minus ten I’ll never know!

These daffs under the mulberry tree will put on a great show in a week or so’s time

It’s heartening to see more ladybirds than ever before as well as lots of bees and other pollinators starting to explore the garden and feed.

The secretive dunnocks have come out from their hiding places and are sitting on top of the long, high holly hedge.

They’re belting out their short, rapid, squeaky song and mating.

Apparently they can do this up to 100 times a day!

That’s a sure sign spring is on its way.