Monday, 11 October 2010

Kitchen garden

A group of us went over to Mucknell again, to strim around the trees and work in the kitchen garden. It was almost summery weather, especially in the shelter of the kitchen garden walls, and I was glad of my sun cream.

The soil in the garden is a lovely friable loam, I'm told slightly alkaline so good for growing veg. There were no worms visible, but there may be eggs incubating. The soil was imported from near Elvington, in the Derwent valley in Yorkshire: alluvial soil created in the 17-18th centuries by deliberately damming the river to flood the land. It's a bit unfortunate that it couldn't be brought in locally, but the local soil is clay.

The greenhouse is also very lovely and very large, a veritable Crystal Palace. The windows in roof are automated, a hydraulic system powered by wax, which as it heats, expands and opens the windows, and as it cools, shrinks and closes them again. It must be pretty finely calibrated.

In between our visits to the greenhouse, a meadow pipit had got in, and must have died from a heart attack or broken neck trying to get out. From a distance they look to me like just another brown bird, but up close it had beautiful mottled yellow-brown plumage. I could also see the long hind claws, and this one had a deformed beak, with one side splintered away.

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