When we arrived back in early January, everything was covered in snow so, although there were many things we wanted to check, we just had to leave some until later. When the snow had gone and the weather had BEGUN to be a little less cold, we hoped to find some signs of life - including this unexpected one, a young slow-worm which enjoyed the warmth of Dave's (muddy) hand in early May.
Other signs of life were not so welcome! Yes, this our beloved asparagus plot, which started cropping well in 2004 after 3 painstaking years of growing the plants from seed and preparing the plot, and went on to give us lovely crops until 2006 - and our customers loved it too.
The pile of brambles at the back right of the picture turned out to be the remains of a flimsy greenhouse which our tenants had placed right on the adjoining comfrey plot. It lay where it fell and the brambles swallowed it - another mess to clear up!
Now it was a case of 'hunt the asparagus'. You can see one 'spear' here, but there were very few to be found. Had our tenants actually moved the plants, or simply neglected them? We asked them that question but got no reply! The weeds were growing fast, but should we hoe them off and risk killing any remaining asparagus? We decided to leave it and see whether any more asparagus appeared. It had been a cold spring, after all! And surely all that weed couldn't really be willowherb?
Oh yes, it was! In early June, the asparagus was still there, but in danger of being strangled. Urgent weeding was needed.
A few days later. The worst of the weeds removed and some asparagus is visible. Much of it rather small, and needing to be marked with coloured plant labels, but it was there! With much more light and space, there was some hope of recovery, aided by watering in dry spells.
In the process, we also re-discovered most of our gooseberry bushes, some visible on the left.