Monday, 9 February 2015

Spring is coming...

Constance Spry's wartime cookbook. Dig for victory!
 I love spring, and I finally feel like it's on its way. Actually, my favourite bit of the year is when late spring meets early summer, around the start of May. Spring doesn't really kick in until the end of February, but I'm already anticipating flowers and brighter mornings. It's been light enough for me to knit in the car on the way to work lately (I don't drive!) which is ace.



For me, February is tomato planting time, when I start off a few seedlings on the bathroom windowsill. Do you grow anything? I don't have time to look after a vegetable patch, but I do always have a growbag full of tomato plants on the patio. If you start them off now, indoors, they'll be ready to put out when the weather warms up. I also always plant coriander and basil. Perhaps I'll do a pot or two of chillies this year too, and another one of aubergine as they did surprisingly well in 2014 and I rarely get them in my vegbox. There's something really satisfying about eating things you grow yourself.

That probably all sounds pretty industrious. In truth, the garden here at the House of Robots is really too big for me to manage properly, and each year I tell myself I'm going to do great things to it, and each July I concede it's just going to look awful. I'd make a lousy land girl. (Then again, my nan was in the Women's Land Army and she looked after livestock. Maybe I'd be better at that. At the age of 88 she's in trouble with the doc for hurting her back moving sacks of birdseed!) Last year I tried to spend at least an hour on the garden every weekend, and it didn't get too bad, but it wasn't great. I need to get out and start clearing things now before the plants all start growing again, and perhaps put in those bulbs that never made it into the ground last autumn...


Another great thing about a change in season is that it gives you a chance to dig all sorts of things out of the wardrobe that you haven't worn in months, and they feel new again. It's going to be great to pop on a summer dress once more. (Have you got some old favourites you're looking forward to wearing again in the spring?) I also did a little off-season shopping last autumn, so have a couple of new-to-me midcentury summer dresses for this year, a black-and-white shirt dress and a honey linen broderie wiggle dress. I'm so excited at the prospect of wearing those, though they will not be worn for grubbing about in the mud. For now, though, I shall stick to the familiar tweeds and knitwear. Who knows, I might even finish my Fair Isle cardigan before the weather's too warm for me to wear it...

Looking at this post, with all its talk of planting and preparation, makes me feel less guilty about having posted less of late. In truth, I haven't done much that's blog-worthy, and didn't want to bore you with photos of my lunch/cat/brooches (though you can look me up on Instagram if you do want that; I'm mim_crinolinerobot) or apologies for being a bad blogger. I always feel people are less likely to be annoyed by infrequent posts than they are by regular rubbish ones. Thinking about it, though, the time spent doing little things is really preparation for the big things: a couple of hours' work on some knitting or embroidery will one day lead to a beautiful garment or homeware that I can show you, and I can't talk about books with you if I don't take the time to read them.

Here's to spring, and the slow growth of good things!

12 comments :

  1. Yes, slow and steady progress is just fine! I have enjoyed growing things to eat in the garden in the past, and our herb garden always flourishes, but truthfully, I really like the flowers and shrubs with just a little patch of strawberries, that's OK with me.
    Your summer dresses sound lovely, looking forward to seeing those!
    And your nan sounds a lot like my mum, also a land girl, and still doing her garden at the age of almost 91. xxx

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    1. They built ladies tough back then! (I really do hope I age like my nan, all marbles present and correct and still healthy at that age.)

      We have a shrub patch too. The garden is long and thin, so we've split it up into blocks.

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  2. I love my garden it's what keeps me sane, well as sane as I can ever be! I'm feeling the need for change I want to move some beds around but as it's not my garden (we rent) I'm limited to what I can do. I adore spring I really feel like I come to life at this time of year.

    I always want to see brooches.

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    1. I haven't bought any new brooches in a while, I've been trying to get more wear out of the things I have. That said, they're always cheap at vintage fairs so they're easy to pick up without thinking about.

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  3. We can't set out tomatoes until mid-may as we're prone to late frosts here, but I am getting ready to start some spinach and rocket as soon as the raised bed can be worked. I brought the pots of herbs inside last autumn, and most of them survived in a sunny window-a first for me.

    I'm embarrassed to admit I know very little about Constance Spry beyond the rose variety named for her. I'll have to see what the library has.

    You're not a bad blogger. You give us something to look forward to.

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    1. Yeah, I start my tomatoes indoors and move them outside later.

      Constance Spry was the domestic goddess of her day. She did loads to do with cookery and flower arranging - I guess her most famous contributions were to the Queen's coronation, for which she designed the flowers and her friend Rosemary Hume, with whom she ran a domestic science school, came up with Coronation Chicken for the buffet (the real recipe is a lot more elaborate than the 'chicken in curry mayo' most places dish up nowadays). As well as 'Come into the Garden, Cook', which was originally written during the war and is packed with recipes for making the most of what you could grow yourself plus limited rationed stuff, I've got a couple of her flower arranging books. I did a short post here: http://crinolinerobot.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/jubilee-flowers.html

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  4. I am missing out, I am not on Instagram! Shallots will be first to go in, and I have cut down the roses again and been pulling up the indestructable monbretia which keeps popping up where we don't want it. Need to sit down and plan some things. Thanks for the reminder to do this sooner than later! X

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    1. I have to remember not to fill my Instagram with cat pictures! I started doing 100 Happy Days, but found I didn't have anything to post for several days running, so abandoned it.

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  5. I like each season as it comes, but there's something very magical about Spring when the trees are in blossom. There are snowdrops outside of our kitchen window at the moment which is lovely, I do love snowdrops.

    We used to have a raised vegetable patch (sweetcorn, courgettes, lettuce, carrots etc) but as the neighbours drove us out of that particular house we now have hanging baskets and planters instead. We have a wild strawberry plant now which was given to us years ago which continues to produce strawberries, despite snow and frost. We gave runner beans another go two years ago but aphids got to them before we realised and the crop was awful.

    I'm looking forward to wearing my ice cream sundae skirt again. It's one of my favourites and it always gets compliments xxx

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  6. I have noticed a bit of a Spring feeling, and the birds are noisy and digging about and the cats want to sit outside for a while.
    I've got a pretty big garden but it's too much for me, also as it's on rock with very thin soil over the top it's hopeless and the damn deer ruin everything, gave up wasting money for them to eat. Whole place looks like a tip but it's a losing battle against the horrible brutes! Pity, I like gardening but not in this one. And it's infested with ticks, ugh!

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    1. Ticks? Argh. Not good. Deer can be more of a nuisance than people realise, can't they? I have a friend who gets one of the smaller varieties coming into her garden to eat her strawberry plants.

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  7. I have come to realise that whilst I love gardens and the idea of growing my own veg I don't actually like gardening. I would rather be knitting! So every year I look at my neglected patch, think that I must do something, and wish that garden fairies (or gnomes) would turn up and sort it all out! So I am impressed with your planting and planning etc!

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