Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Winter colour

The skies over Stapleford may be cold, bleak and laden with snow, but there is still plenty of colour to bring cheer on the Dig In allotment.

OK, so this might be cheating, but the beautifully painted mural on our storage container-cum-tool shed comes into its own when the earth isn't producing much in the way of natural blooms. Those beds in the foreground are just a small part of what the Entry to Employment (E2E) team achieved last year. Great work from those lively young people to transform a patch of bare earth into well-made paths and beds which are just oozing potential. You can expect those beds to be bursting with colour and goodness once we're into the growing season.

Now, here's some more natural colour: Autumn-planted onions shooting above the earth, full of promise for the year ahead. They were planted as 'sets', which are like miniature bulbs and, having rested in the earth through the worst of the cold, are now beginning to put up some lush green growth above the soil. It will still be a while before the bulbs swell into tasty onions but, when they do, the head start they've had will allow us to pick and enjoy them a few weeks earlier than any Spring-sown onions.

And finally, something that's already available to eat. Winter lettuce growing in the shelter of our polytunnel. Amazing, if you associate salads with Summer only. Those frizzy leaves may look delicate, but they've grown through the winter, even when the snow-filled days and frosty nights brought temperatures plummeting inside the tunnel. They're quite hardy and will thrive when other plants won't survive. They'll keep growing back after you cut a few leaves, so long as you let a few leaves and the root behind. They live tough, but taste tender; in fact they really do taste as good as they look.

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