Thursday, March 21, 2013

Signs of spring

Extraordinary though it may seem, it is now spring.

In the world of modern-day newspaper publishing, where this first appeared, yesterday is the new tomorrow and these words were processed in winter, while the wind was howling, the frost was freezing and the hail was hailing.

Whereas they're being ingested by you as you recline on your patio in the vernal sunshine as lambs are gambolling, daffodils are blooming and blackbirds are all of a twitter.

As if. The chances are that whatever the season, the icy eastern blast isn't going to turn itself off any time soon.

Be that as it may, it's time to get this year's vegetable crop going. Last weekend's treat was a visit to the garden centre – one that sells seeds, and plants, and trowels and stuff along with the scented candles, wind-driven mobiles, ambient CDs and malevolent-looking reptiles that are your average garden centre's stock in trade. 

Here, while Mrs D pondered which brand of spud she'd be digging up next autumn, yours truly wandered amongst racks and stacks of chemicals, and wondered as he wandered: how much of this stuff actually works?

Here, for instance, was a packet of friendly mycorrhizal fungi, which allegedly encourage massive amounts of root growth. (Don't buy the unfriendly sort, or you'll end up under three feet of toadstool.)

Here was a bottle of brown treacly gloop, extracted from algae, which purports to pep up your petunias and put poke into your potentilla.

And here were the nematodes, which sound like a 60s pop combo but are actually a natural method of pest control.

Everything sounds promising, and over the years we've tried quite a few of them. We've got no idea of how much good they've done, mind you. Because you can't, unless you test everything under rigid scientific conditions.

But it's springtime, and who cares about science? We'll just stick them all in the ground, and see what pops up.

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