2nd January – A welcome harvest.

Why talk of harvest early in January when all about lies little but MUD?

Most of us think of wheat and barley fields or an over-indulgence in runner beans when we think of harvest, but to me there are many harvests that are offered free by nature rather than by the sweat of our hard labours. Let me give you an example. The leaves that fall on our treasured patch of green. Many people rake the lawn, bag up the leaves cursing as they do it, then bundle them off to the local landfill tip. But those leaves are to me, a treasured harvest, and if dealt with correctly can be of great value further on down the line. When I say correctly, I mean that I collect the Ash leaves, and as many as I can get and fill dumpy bags with them. They will compost in no more that 6 months. Leaf mould for my spring seedlings. Other leaves, collected where possible by species, are bagged in the same way. Some will fully compost down in a year while others may be two or three years. The grass areas have the leaves mown off and bagged. The bulk-bags are left exposed to rain, but kept out of sight from the mid-day sun, then left to mature. Autumn leaves are a true harvest – make the most of them.

I’ve been potting up all our un-sold lilies, particularly my favourites, the Turks-head lilies. Each fresh pot will have 3 good sized bulbs in it. I know that by early summer, they will look great on the sales tables or our markets, but right now, the pots look bare and boring. But, the real harvest is in the dozens of baby bulbs or bulblets in each old pot. From a few pots from last year, I now have well over 100 baby bulbs which will be grown on to flower in 2 years time. We havn’t bought a single lily bulb for years. Now that’s a harvest, and it’s free.

We get tons of chipped wood and bark delivered to our gate free of charge. The tree surgeon doesn’t want it and he has to get rid of it. We do want it, so for us it’s a free harvest.

But the best harvest is to be found just outside the nursery gates. Picket Lane is a single track road sunk below the fields and for half a mile, down hill all the way to the river Parrott.  Very heavy rain causes massive run-off from the fields. With nowhere to go other than downhill, the water and soil running off the fields flows down the lane so every time we get a real thunderstorm, the lane turns into a torrential river – so much so that you cannot see any tarmac.

When the water stops, we have tons of gravel deposited just outside our nursery gate. What do you need to improve heavy clay? Grit! What do you need to make French drains? gravel! What do you need to top- dress the paths in the gardens? gravel! We use tons of grit and gravel to improve our gardens. Bradford’s charge over £80 a ton plus delivery. Nature delivers it to our gate free of charge including delivery. Now that’s what I see as a harvest.

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