This is the vegetable garden in spring, photographed in late afternoon sunshine yesterday. How neat it looks - and a bit empty too. What should I be doing next? My heart tells me to get planting - ride the tide of this fantastic springtime surge of growth. My head says 'Wait - you live on the top of a low mountain in Wales where the climate is an overcoat colder than 800 feet below.' So I sit on my hands and satisfy most of my urges by rifling through the seed packets and making plans.
It's knowing when to do what that gives me problems. The seed packets helpfully suggest 'Sow: April - May'. Hmm, that's a window of 61 days - early April is very different to the end of May. I usually resort to memory - a poor source of reference in my case - or entries made on this blog. Plant labels from previous years have been useful too. Not very scientific though is it?
Then there is the question of measuring success. Was a bumper crop down the the alignment of the planets? Unintentionally sowing in the right phase of the moon? A good growing season? The quality of seed, soil or husbandry? There are so many variables.
A gardening diary would be a good idea - like the log 'Keeping Track of the Garden' elizabethm has recently started to record the progress of her plot on a hillside in North Wales, an eloquent companion piece to her 'Welsh Hills Again' blog. I wonder, could I be disciplined enough to do the same?
In the meantime, what does my dreary photograph tell us about Friday 17th April 2009? It's not raining - the fog and drizzle which has been round our ears for the last couple of days has lifted. What was the temperature? Probably around 12 degrees.
With the exception of the raspberries and the fruits in their cage everything still looks very brown doesn't it?
Look closely. The onions and garlic planted in the autumn have finally put put a growth spurt on and now look promising; those put in a month ago are showing little green tips at last. While we may think that rain has been incessant the ground is actually quite dry and it has taken a downpour to get them started. Broad beans are above the ground too and I've pushed in a few more seeds where, inexplicably, there are gaps. Mice perhaps. I've planted roots: carrot, parsnip and beetroot. Parsley - Champion Moss Curled - went in on Easter Sunday. Once again I missed that traditional Good Friday planting date. (I'm hoping for more success with parsley this year - last year I planted a flat leaved variety which grew like a weed and rapidly went to seed.) This afternoon I may sow peas. Too early for beans, runner and French, I fear unless they're sown indoors.
Beds are ready for more tender plants: squash, courgette, sweetcorn, lettuce and tomatoes. They are all sown and in the greenhouse awaiting that magic moment when All Danger of Frost is Past.
Alan has planted potatoes - although which varieties are a mystery - the lettering on their labels faded as soon as the sun caught them. His asparagus looks promising - spears are already pushing their stubby noses out of the ground - a couple of nights ago we ate a spear each. A small pleasure.
The pile of stones in the foreground - to the right of the photographer's shadow - is a pizza oven under construction. From my point of view this means another scruffy corner tidied up and the opportunity to plant a herb bed alongside where the soil is particularly stony and well drained.
The dog is poised and ready for action - and so am I. Not long now until those seed cases crack and shoots and roots wriggle towards moisture and light. Can you sense I'm just itching to be out there?