April, in many ways, represents my favourite time of year.
Whilst the weather may still not be brilliant and work schedules seem to get ever fuller, I can’t help but get excited as I start to day dream and plan the coming months; the months when my garden reawakens, weekends are free of sporting commitments and the sun – fingers crossed – shines.
At the fore front of my mind are my plans for this year’s vegetable growing efforts, already on the back foot after an awful few months of weather and pressing work commitments.
Last year I tried to grow a wide variety of produce and whilst what I grew was undeniably yummy (I may be slightly biased…..) there simply wasn’t enough of it. Any hopes of being self sufficient in veg over the spring and summer months didn’t materialise and I found myself in the grocers far more often than I would have liked.
But then again what did I expect? With only limited growing space and a large variety of crops (most of which took up a lot of room ), it was clear that I would never grow the level of produce that I desired.
As such, my plan this year is to play it safe by going for volume rather than variety and growing as much as I can of staples that I eat a lot of; mainly peas, potatoes, salad crops and tomatoes. All these vegetables are relatively expensive in the shops and give good returns for the amount of space they require to grow in. Also, if I have a glut of goods I can feed all these crops to the chickens.
By concentrating on this small selection of veg, I will be much more focused and keep on top of their care and cultivation; ensuring that I have a much more productive year and move further towards my goals of veggie self-sufficiency.
With April also representing the start of the pheasant breeding season proper, it would also appear that the cock pheasant which regularly visits my garden has his own ‘plans’; plans which involve inappropriate interactions with my chickens!
As a result of these ‘plans’, said pheasant is to be found continually strutting around the hens, puffing himself up, showing off and then looking totally crestfallen when all of his advances are totally ignored.
Now, I appreciate that Pheasants are daft, but this chap really does the whole species a disservice. I have lost count of the number of times I have chased him out of the garden only for him to reappear seconds later or watched him get stuck in the hedge. I have even clonked him on the noggin with a particularly well aimed clod of earth more than once and yet nothing persuades him that:
1) The chickens do not find him a particularly alluring character (poor chap)
2) If he continues to eat the bird’s expensive chicken feed he will end up in some form of casserole.
My wife has grown tired of me suddenly shouting ‘that little bugger’ and then run out of the backdoor whenever I spy the beast and our neighbours must also think I’m quite mad as I do so without any comprehension as to what I am wearing at the time. A mad man wielding a stick, shouting nonsense, clad only in boxer shorts and walking boots is not a particularly strong look; even in our neck of the woods.
All in all, I do hope that the pheasant buggers off!
Outside of the garden, I am itching to spend more time outdoors, with lots of plans for walking, running and cycling adventures clogging up my mind.
For ages now, I have been meaning to walk the Coleridge Way; tackling the 36 miles from Nether Stowey to Porlock, recreating the route that the famous poet once trekked across the Quantock hills and Exmoor. Whilst I always envisaged taking a couple of days to walk the route, I have been doing a lot of trail running recently and am now considering tackling the challenge in one fun-filled, muddy, hilly run. It’s quite an exciting prospect.
I am also hoping to do a multi day walk along the coast path between Swanage and Seaton, spending some weekends in the Brecon Beacons and tackling the famous Two Moors Way walk on my mountain bike. And that’s not to mention the various running races and cycling events that I can take part in over the summer months, when rugby and work commitments are not eating up all of my spare time.
There are simply so many options to choose from and I am desperate to make the most of my summer.
So, I’m off to read some gardening books and stare at more maps, but I wish everyone out there the best of luck with their own plans, whatever they may be. Let’s hope that we have a few months of decent weather so that they can all come to fruition.