Saturday, 27 November 2010

Frozen leeks and the church of permaculture

These leeks at Regents Park Allotment were definitely frozen this morning. It feels like we have fast forwarded to February. Only a week ago I was at Wisley, marvelling at how mild the weather was. But after that spell of warmish autumn days that lulled a few bulbs into poking some leaves above the soil and made the autumn leaves sing against blue skies, we are now in deepest winter chill, even in central London.
I went to frosty Regents Park this moring for an introduction to permaculture course organised by Sustain. As a complete novice, I learned that there is more to it than the much talked about forest gardening. Trainer Stefan told us that it is first and foremost a 'set of thinking tools'  - more about how you live your life than what you grow in your garden. That's all very well, but I am suspicious of any set of principles that 'must be adhered to' - something to do with a Catholic upbringing I suspect. But as a method of getting the most out of a small growing space, I will overlook the quasi-religious rulebook and I will read more.
These hard frosts are very unusual for central London, especially in November and I fear for my echium which was very belatedly wrapped in fleece. Luckily my last 95 bulbs have been planted, two rows of Feltham First peas have gone in at the allotment and hopefully the ground will unfreeze in time to plant some garlic.
The days are excruciatingly short and cold and it really is time to retreat indoors - fires and cakes and some time to pore over seed catalogues and catch up on all those gardening books. And then, surely it will be nearly spring again?


  1. There is no way I would have recognised that those frosty leaves belong to leeks without you saying so. Even now I know, I peer and wonder at the transformation.

    I noticed yesterday that a bulb at the front of my house has sent up something tall and spindly and green. I suspect a crocus. It has gone for an early start, found it wasn't quite as light as it expected and is keeping going, encouraged by the thought that the higher it grows, the more likely it will come across some sun. I think it will have learnt its lesson by morning. The temperature is on its way down.


  2. Fabulous photograph. I share your suspicions of any group that seeks to tell you to "believe all this", but am interested in permaculture. I love the principle of gardening with nature rather than against it, and of making the least change for greatest positive effect, but maybe that's because I am, at heart, a little lazy? I am also resistant to "systems", so maybe "go with the flow" will be as far as I ever get to adopting permaculture.

  3. I pretty much lost anything that was slightly tender in the garden. We had a few days below zero and that did the job. Mind you, the kle and cabbages are now under 8 inches of snow, and I fear that the last of the winter salad is done for.

    I investigated the permaculture thing, but I was put off by the "there are no rules ... but these are the rules you must follow" thing. I actually found myself turning full circle and being very negative about the "doctrine" of the idea.

    I only found out about it because of the whole "punk rock gardening" tag, but it's more like police cadet gardening. As an ex punk of the 1970s, I've devised my own method, which is - as you say - go with the flow. I just go with it slightly drunk, and with a bad attitude!!!

  4. Apologies for the belated responses, have been experiencing a high volume of pre-Christmas festivities...
    Esther I expect your crocus has definitely had second thoughts by now.
    Thank you Plantalicious for the complement and support in a relaxed approach to permaculture systems
    And IG - 'police cadet gardening' is a choice description. I love it.