Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Last Day at the Apricot Centre

Today was my last day at the Apricot Centre. A bitter sweet day, but a great way to spend it. I turned up on the late side and found Aidan in the glasshouse. I stood around for a few minutes like a useless lump and watched him water before he recruited me to help move the chicken coop. The brambles had started to claim the coop and the ladies were roosting on the roof. They ran for the cover of the nettles and trees as soon as we came through the gate. Nice to see those girls again! (Still no sign of the little brown one.) Then we (mostly Aidan since I vowed not to get stung by nettles on my last day!) dislodged the coop from the things growing on/through it and we lifted it to a new spot.

Next job, onion harvesting. The tops had rotted off, which made pulling some of them up pretty slippery business, but the shovel and I managed. The plot was overgrown with weeds, nettles and thistle included. Tons of nettles, stinging and non-stinging. I have the stings from finger tip to elbow to prove it. And thistle is mean! Spikes all the way down to the roots. I managed to uncover two mini potatoes while I was down there and a ton of bugs and worms--the sign of happy soil.

I met two friendly faces today. Mark, Marina's partner, who is the reason I first came to the Centre; and a frog. It was great to chat with Mark, albiet briefly, as it was through my meeting him at a CSA event in Colchester last spring that I first learned of the Apricot Centre and suggested a visit. The other friendly face was that of a frog, sitting in a pond behind the centre. The pond seems to have sprung a leak and the water level has been going down these past few weeks, but the frog didn't seem to mind much. He was able to sit with his head above water, body hiden beneath the yellow-green algae. 

Wheat harvesting followed lunch. I pulled the wheat out from beneath the glasshouse raspberries, a fun and messy job. Vine weed is growing everywhere and complicates things. In another part of the glasshouse, vine weed has toppled a medium sized fennel plant. So a lot of vine weed was pulled as well as wheat. Other casualties included New Zealand spinach and fennel. The raspberries are still looking pretty good. All of the wheat was wheel-barrowed over to the chicken's area and thrown over the fence for them to enjoy. Poor girls; I kept scaring them off by pitching arms-full of wheat over the fence. Hope they enjoy the wheat feast.

My last project of the day, was to take a tray of seeds that Marina and I had sown a few weeks ago which were coming up as little sprouts and to separate them out into their own little compartments. The flowers with tiny seeds were just sprinkled over dirt. They've come up nicely, but pretty close together, so we've transplanted some of them to give them more space to grow. We managed to do about 5 trays of Love in a Mist--ridiculous name for a flower--which shared a pan with Sweet Williams. Shame I won't get to see them grow! And I'm missing out on plums and apples, too!

I've had a great time at the Apricot Centre and I know I've learned a lot. I will miss my trips there and working with Marina and Aidan. Many thanks to them for welcoming me onto the farm and allowing me the opportunity to learn and to get outside and do something real. It's been the perfect balance for the mental exercise of dissertation work.

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