March is traditionally the month for planning the vegetable garden, but as they say ‘The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft astray’ and I hadn’t taken into account the consequences of having free-range chickens and ducks. At the beginning of the month I drew out the plan for the garden allowing for crop rotation, additional fruit bushes for the orchard and new flower beds by the greenhouse – a sheltered spot where I planned to grow cut flowers including lilies, gladioli, irises plus annual flowers like sunflowers and larkspur. The flowers were to be grouped by colour into three circular beds of pink, yellow/orange and white/blue. First the bordering fuchsia hedge had to be trimmed. Removing the turfs took days of hard labour. Then the beds were dressed with the peaty soil left over from digging the greenhouse foundations. Finally a whole afternoon was spent planting bulbs and sowing seeds, all the time being watched by the curious chickens and ducks – as soon as my back was turned in they all trooped, digging up bulbs and scattering the seeds, even the kittens joined in! Nets haven’t stopped them, but tomorrow I’m going to try using chopped up gorse, an old method for deterring mice, but it might just work!
It will be so lovely if the flowers manage to survive, as they will border the side of the greenhouse, which has apple trees on two sides and their branches almost touch forming a little glade. In the centre we have built a stone walled barbeque pit this month. We haven’t tried it properly yet, although I have boiled a kettle on it. It is reminiscent of camping holidays and it makes me dream of summer evenings gathered around the fire with friends, the smell of charcoaled sausages, fish cooking on fennel sticks and watching the sun set.
Oh I nearly forgot to mention what happened to Rocky our enormous duck that was bullying all the other drakes. He’s in heaven, not literally. He’s been adopted by our neighbour and he now lives with 20 female ducks!