Last night I visited the next-village Friday evening market which I mentioned on Monday. There was a grocer with a van, a Fairtrade stall (yes of course I stocked up on chocolate), Al with his veg and three meat stalls. Three, no less; but each of them was a specialist selling its own farm’s produce, so one had lamb, one rare-breed pork and one had free-range chickens and turkeys, and beef. There were some other stands too, one for any donations to go to the village hall; cakes and suchlike. We went, and left, fairly early as we had Squiffany with us and bedtime approached, but they were doing good business and I hope it keeps going. A good deal of thought and work has gone into it all and it relies on both shoppers and stallholders being willing to keep up the effort.
Nearby Yagnub has its tri-annual street market tomorrow. Another home-grown effort that started, roughly 20 years ago, with an evening Christmas street fair, there are now three all-day markets, each with its own theme. In May it is plants, in August it’s antiques and in December it is a Christmas, of course, craft fair. it’s well supported. Everyone goes. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is not good. But hey, plants are the things to sell in the rain, just so long as all the pots don’t get blown over.
I spent most of the day working in the greenhouses and pleasant it was indeed. The weather was changeable – when the sun was out it quickly became too warm but not unbearably so, and when it rained it felt pleasantly cosy. Like driving on your own in the dark and the rain, where you feel (deceptively) safe and strangely comforted by the blustery weather outside.
I have never been this late before, I’ve been potting up plants but have only just planted many of them out; indeed I still haven’t finished. This year, I’ve half-buried pots in the earth and planted into them so that the roots can go through but I can target the watering; this is to make life easier if there is a hosepipe ban here. I don’t, in any case, care to feed and water heavily as I think that vegetables have more flavour if they are not over-forced. I’ve also mulched with a thick layer of straw; the case against that is that unrotted materials take nutrients out of the soil as they decompose but I did it last year and found that the straw did not start to rot during the summer and it did keep moisture in and suppress weeds. The greenhouse now smells lovely and barny and I can see that I will invent reasons to go and dawdle in there, just to inhale gently.
One 30-foot long greenhouse, the Sage has decreed, will have to be dismantled after the summer. I’m sorry about it but can see he is right (which is why he is a sage). It is old, well over 50 years; the parents of a friend let us have it when they moved house about 15 years ago. It was dismantled in Sussex, a site levelled and prepared, with concrete foundations, here, it was re-erected, glazed, painted with wood preservative, all in the space of a couple of weeks – because I mentioned politely that, if it were not done quickly I would miss a growing season. Now it is buckled and rotting and panes of glass slip periodically; it has been mended over the years but it’s now past it. We have a polytunnel that was going begging a couple of years ago but have not put up and I suppose that will have to do instead, but it won’t be the same.