We have a project. What with the diabolical summers we’ve been having (not forgetting possible climate change freak conditions; can it get worse?), credit crunch (why did I mention that? the term’s trotted out at every conceivable opportunity –it’s so beginning to grate), global meltdown and Armageddon hazily waving from the horizon (positive sightings from our very own doom and gloom merchant), we thought we’d better become geared up and equipped for any eventuality.
We have, after long and serious thought and debate, decided to erect a polytunnel! Now what this has ensured for you is, obviously, quite the most perfect growing season next year, weather-wise that is. And for us? Well our plan is to be able to provide ourselves and the family with enough fruit and veg throughout the year. You know the sort of thing – wonderful orange, lemon, peach, apricot, greengage and fig trees down one end, complete with vines, yes, grape and kiwi; the odd almond and olive tree too – chairs underneath to enjoy the ambience – you get the picture? The rest will be given up to the most tempting and varied array of vegetables. Glossy, inky aubergine, piquant sweet pepper, hot chilli, big fat tomatoes, elegant ladies fingers (okra), garlic, ginger, fennel, french beans, squash (lurve!), sweetcorn and even our courgettes (oh to get a glut again) and early, early new potatoes (sans slugs)…our green house would continue to produce our salad crops and our productive kitchen garden would be given up to brassicas, roots, onions, runners not forgetting our brilliant asparagus bed. As you may have gathered, we’re not talking little squiddly-polythingy here but a gargantuan, stonking beast. A polytunnel.
But where to site it? It’s horrid, ugly, an eye sore – so we don’t want to see too much of it; at the same time it has to be accessible for vast quantities of dung, compost, sand and grit and all those encouraging-to-grow things. And there’s the lazing around with glasses of the finest homemade bevy. And I’m possessive and neurotic about damage to my fields and the lawn, sooo…?
After lots of head scratching, umming and ahhing it was decided to clear away an area of scrub behind the fruit cage in between the kitchen garden and Top Meadow. Why was it scrub? Well, like most rough areas on farms they evolve around an abandoned, broken, rusted-out piece of farm machinery; an old plough, a dung spreader, cart and such forth. This grew up around a dumped cart.
Olly set to. Chainsaw, machete, slasher. Mincemeat was soon made of bramble and withy, fires lit, our very own slash and burn. Digger-driver-dave arrived and with consummate skill grubbed up tree roots and levelled the site. Fortunately we’d chosen somewhere with a half decent covering of top soil. All we need now is a respectable dry spell, a month or two of hot sunny weather should do it (hollow laugh), and we can fork out the remaining roots, mix in grit, dung and so forth. Next step is to actually order the polytunnel; then the real fun starts.
So next summer, as the world collapses around us, and civilisation as we know it disintergrates; we will be languidly supping our G&Ts in a sub-tropical paradise. How smug are we?? Yeh, right, dream on!