The Clock in the Woods
We have a clock in the woods above the house. It keeps time but not by the hour and minute but by the season. It never occurred to me that the cuckoo in a wooden clock sounds exactly like a cuckoo in the woods. That is why when I heard one for the first time yesterday I thought the neighbours had a new clock loudly calling the hour. How joyous to know that instead of some mechanical timepiece the herald of the woods has arrived to tell us that summer is here. He has flown 10,000 miles from South Africa. The number of cuckoos making the migration has declined by 63%. They are Red-Listed here in the UK and to hear one in our woods is a miracle. How sad to think that my first cuckoo song might be my last. If you want to follow how they are doing there is a wonderful site listed under information to the right. I no longer wear a watch just going by the sun and now the cuckoo’s song is enough for me.
The cuckoo’s call is the only hint we have that there will be a summer. The sky is overcast, the drizzle intermittent, and the temperature requires wool. My Butternut squash are late to germinate inside the house. The Acorn and Sweet Dumpling are up but the Butternut shows no stirring. I think I must sacrifice one of the seedlings and dissect a seed to see what is going on. I hate doing it but the wait is killing me. The other issue is that if this seed is not viable then new seed must be bought and fast to keep within the season’s growing period. It could possibly be cooler temperatures keeping it dormant as at this time of year the house is only heated by the fire in the grate. It could also be a lack of direct sun on the soil, there hasn’t been any. I am a bit worried.
We have been anxiously awaiting the emergence of the potatoes we planted so long ago. If you recall we planted them on top of the soil underneath 8 inches of straw and grass clippings. They endured the nightly disturbance by a pheasant and his harem nesting in the straw. The mornings after planting were continually frosty and were then followed by the torrential rains of April. Each new threat to their success added to our anxiety. Hoorah! Today the first leaves of the Pink Fir Apples poked through! We checked under the clippings and straw and the Maris Pipers are going to reach the surface soon. Not one weed had grown through the thick bottom layer of newspaper either. The planting of the spuds proves that you do not have to dig to grow vegetables. We checked the Pacific Purple Asparagus planted on top of our lawn in 6 inch thick mushroom compost and they too are spearing upwards towards the light.
I did it this morning. I set out the seedlings that needed to live in full light, exposed to the elements. Rain is once again predicted for the tomorrow and Tuesday, I want to move them inside the protection of the greenhouses. Himself is urging me to hold fast and tough it out, keeping them outside to take what comes. I am a wringing my hands. Some of them must be moved back inside as they are too fragile to survive a heavy rain. I am going to sneak out and put them back inside. Pathetic aren’t I?
I have not given up on Aquaponics. I have found a supplier of Tilapia fingerlings in East Anglia. The water filtration system designed to run effluent-laden water through plant beds is similar to the plant beds inside an Earthship. The difference is that with the pool either the beds live outside and above it requiring pumping the water to them or inside a floating styrofoam island on top of the water. The latter is more efficient and requires no electricity to run the pump. A floating raft of plants would also provide protection for the fish from marauding egrets or herons which do populate our waterways. This is going to take serious planning and preparation which means we will not be growing fish this year but possibly next. All of this could be made easier if we just bought the fish tank systems from the Aquaponics people but then that would not utilize what we already have nor would it provide nutrient rich water for the garden. This year is all about interconnected set-ups and systems.
Posted on May 6, 2012, in Aquaponics, Asparagus, Composting, Irrigation, Potatoes, Solar Heat, Uncategorized, Vegetables and tagged Aquaponics, Bird Migration, Cuckoo, Dorset, Earthship, Maris Piper, No-Dig Gardening, Pacific Purple Asparagus, Pink Fir Apple, Seedlings, Tilapia, Water Filtration. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.