Well, possibly not so much in the air (…it’s still freezing cold if you stop for more than a minute…), but there’s certainly a spring in our volunteers’ steps.

Right now, it’s all about clearing and tidying and prepping up.

With hopefully the worst of the snow out of the way, this week has all been about getting the Plots ready for another year of growing, and this year, we really plan to grow!Pruning the roses

As a part of this massive Spring clearance, we’ve been concentrating on the top Plots I mentioned the other day, and if you check out the photos, you’ll certainly see what I mean.

Yesterday, Matt and Jon did a superb job cutting back the roses that were lurking in the centre bed of the top Plot.  Now these roses, although beautiful for a couple of weeks of the year have been a constant pain for volunteers.  They’ve been allowed to spread and spread, such that even trying to get past the bed on a path was impossible without coming out terribly scratched.

Well no more!No roses!

This view to the left is looking across the rose bed towards the shed in the background, and twenty four hours ago, this wouldn’t have been possible!

Yes, roses are beautiful, their fragrance is divine, and the bees love them when they’re in flower, but we figure by cutting them back, we’ll gain at least another bed -for flowers, possibly two.

Also on the top Plot, today Jon, Pam, Graham and Ricky were planting bulbs.  These bulbs are crocii and daffodils, kindly gifted by Sheffield City Council last year.  They’d been sat in our top shed, and I think to be honest, they’d been forgotten about.  Well today, virtually all of them were planted!  In just a few weeks, we’ll have daffodils everywhere, and crocii likewise.Daffodils

To the right here are Pam and Jon about a third of the way through planting a whole bed of daffodils.  We figure that this bed has been largely unused for years and the bulbs would have rotted had they not been planted.  When they’ve finished in a few weeks time, we can always lift them for storage, or planting somewhere else.  But in the meantime, passersby on the road above will be treated with a whole bed full of yellow.

Then again, knowing our local youths, it looks like there’ll be a lot of local mothers getting hand-picked daffodils for Mother’s Day!  …I guess it’s the thought that counts?

Not content with merely planting bulbs, Jon and Pam then went one step further and planted a long line of fruit bushes on the long top bed.P1010030  If you look carefully on the photo on the left, you can just see a line of gooseberry, black and red currants and we think a loganberry or two.

All around the bushes and in long lines down the bed, Pam planted crocii and daffodils, so just like the others, in a few weeks time, this will be a riot of colour and greenery.  The bees will love them too!

Meanwhile, on the ‘Therapy Plot’, Matt and I were combining two beds into one, weeding it, then prepping it up for onions on Saturday.Matt Digging

And no, this shot hasn’t been ‘Photoshopped’.  This really is Matt digging, and a superb job he made of it!

All we’ve done is take out a path between two narrow beds.  I had scraped the woodchip off it to compost, then we both set about making it into one bed.  The far one where Matt is had a load of leaf mold put on last year, so he spread it over the entire bed.  The worms seemed to like it, because I found loads where I was weeding.

Ian (no relation) had found a job for Gary today.

“Here mate,” he said. “Just whip this tree out, would you?”  (Thinking this would take Gary all morning.)Tree? What tree?

Gary, being Gary, got it out and sorted in about 10 minutes.  No messing.

This was in the same area as the partially rotted privet cuttings we used in the path on the banking last week.  There were piles of it, and also builders’ bags full of hawthorn cuttings too.

Well, now they’re gone, and with this tree out of the way, Gary plans to make some raised beds in this area.  We all agree with him: the space has been ‘dead’ for longer than anyone can remember, and now we have all the scaffolding planks to make the sides with, we all think it’s an ideal time to start on it.

In other news, we heard this week that we’ve been awarded a small grant with which to repair our pizza oven.

Now, we could just use the money to patch it up and hope for the best when next winter comes, or we could build a ‘structure’ over the top of it to protect it from the worst of the elements, and patch it up in the meantime.

Given that most of our volunteers are men (…well, Big Boys…), which do you think we’ve chosen, Dear Reader?!

Men/Boys like building things -it all starts with Lego- so we’re designing and building something to fully cover the oven, and to provide some shelter from the rain or…  …Sunshine?  (Haven’t written that word in months!)

Of course, it will involve whopping great lumps of reclaimed timber, and a roof of corrugated steel -to cope with the heat from the oven below.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated on this exciting venture!

All too soon it was time to knock off, but as we left, I looked back on our Plots as a walked along the path by the road.  Everything was looking, well, different, but this was good.

This Saturday we plan to carry on, and there’ll have to be a fire lit to burn all the rose cuttings and other brush we’ve unearthed.  This could mean baked potatoes and possibly a soup.

Mmmmmm.  My mouth is already watering!

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