Windy Weather

Well we were in the eye of the storm last Wednesday. Luckily for us around here we have escaped the worst of the floods, most of the rain from around here floods the Severn lower down. Some lies on the fields and there is a lot more of that than normal. There are a few roads that always flood, but when you’ve lived around here for a while you know where the water is likely to be.
TOWPCOE texted me at work last Wednesday that the storm was coming in, and to leave so I could get back before dark. So I set off from the school I was working in south of Shrewsbury for the 37 mile journey home.
I could feel the wind buffeting the car, I love my little car but it is light and not great in high winds! I got about 20 miles and then came across this in the road. SL701881small (Photo taken the next morning.) I couldn’t immediately think of another route and there were a few people already starting to clear it so I thought I’d get out and give them a hand… The wind was so strong I could hardly get the car door open, then it was a struggle to stop the wind ripping it off. Once out of the car the wind was so loud I couldn’t speak to the other people I just joined in we cleared all the smaller bits that had broken off on the way down. Then we all got one side and rolled the remaining trunk onto the verge. I had a graze on my knee where a side branch caught me!SL701880small (From the other side quite a sizable trunk, much bigger and we’d have needed a chainsaw!)
We got back in our cars and drove over the twigs.. onto the next one as it turned out! I had to do three more detours on the way home, wasn’t sure that I would actually get home at one point. I called home as it was getting dark to find that the answerphone didn’t answer, so knew the power was out (TOWPCOE was out getting candles). SL701879small
This tree wasn’t down on my way home and must have fallen not long after I passed it… By first light in the morning there was space enough to squeeze through. I am full of admiration for the people out with chainsaws in the night, and refreshed by the community spirit around here, drivers were also trying to help each other find a clear route home. Countless trees are down all around this part of Mid Wales, lots of them were covered in ivy, I heard on Gardeners Question Time some months ago that ivy doesn’t damage trees… Is it the ivy that weakened them or the leaf cover on the ivy that caught the wind either way I wonder if clearing the ivy wouldn’t be better in the long run.
Driving down a new bit of ‘bypass’ a shadow in the road turned out to be the side of a barn, massive pieces of corrugated iron with the beams still attached, space enough to swerve it I was glad I wasn’t driving past when that flew off!
When I got home I was thankful for the wood burning stove and the gas hob as the power was out for 24 hours. We had a lovely drink down at the pub, powered by candle light. It made me realise again, just how much we rely on electricity in our modern world (the mobile signal was also out).
Next time I might not set off, the storm was past by 8pm or so it would have much safer to stay put, we just don’t expect those kinds of winds in the UK. Remarkably there were no reports of major injuries, plenty of damage to buildings including our neighbour’s garage roof off in one piece, not quite making it to our garden. Our chickens were very nervous, their coup roof blew off (TOWPCOE found it 20 metres away) and had to be held down overnight by a breeze block and another limb came off our Wellingtonia, but we escaped any more damage.SL701885small

And finally there is, sorry was, an iconic ‘lonely tree’ on a hill just outside our little town that is no longer standing, causing some upset.

Leeks… How to grow them.

Apparently the new superfood, so TOWPCOE says. I have been growing leeks now for a few years, very satisfying, not a lot of work and something lovely to eat in the horrid winter months (as long as the ground is not frozen).SL701737 This was a particularly lovely one, look how the leaves fan out, just like the ones on the seed packet, they’re not all so perfect! We’ve had a couple this weekend, one in a ‘special’ cauliflower cheese also with bacon, the other steamed with some cabbage. We eat as much of the green parts as possible too, they taste lovely a shame they don’t travel so well so you don’t often get them with greens intact at the shops.
So buy some seedlings, (they look like thick blades of grass) or sow some seed. The books say wait until they are pencil thick to plant then out, I have found that they don’t get that thick in the seed tray and seem to plant out well much smaller. One year they developed little bulbs at the bottom as I was waiting for them to get big enough, they didn’t work as well that year.
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I use my dibber as I don’t have very deep soil, sink it to the hilt and twist it out to leave a nice hole. The soil needs to be quite wet so it stays as a hole, too dry and the sides will fall in! Then pop a leekling (don’t now if that’s a word) in, I have tried trimming the roots or putting them in with all that I can untangle, it doesn’t seem to make any difference, it’s easier to get them in the holes with less root, but takes time to trim, trim to about 2-3 cm if you are doing that. The holes are around 15 cm apart, further apart may give you bigger leeks. These went in the ground mid June, about 100 of them, (some didn’t survive). Then give them a good water to get a bit of soil round the roots, but the holes should stay. I have some netting on a wooden frame covering them to stop the chickens digging them up.
SL701187small By late summer they look like this, once they’re big enough they don’t actually need protection from the chickens and visiting pheasants but the onions and broccoli at the far end did and are by this lovely temporary fencing I invested in this year. The onion sets that went in a bit late and haven’t done a lot yet, maybe they’ll get going when the weather starts to warm up!
There is some self sown feverfew in the foreground along with a parsnip that went way too woody and then to seed, Bob Flowerdew said that he gets better germination from self seeded parsnips, I don’t seem to have had that luck so far, but maybe this spring will prove him right.