Today I decided it was time to dig up the rest of the artichokes - I'd already done one third, but it's almost the middle of February and before too long they'll start growing again. As you can see from the picture, there are a lot of artichokes this year, and I decided to be very thorough as during 2010 they decided to make a bid for world domination and started to escape the bed. So no corner or edge was left unturned. Of course, as I have heavy clay soil currently saturated with the deluges we've had over the last week, I'm now nursing a doozy of a sore back and am mightily glad the new bed I purchased last month came with an orthopaedic memory foam mattress - just heavenly!
Jerusalem Artichokes are easy to grow - my crop started from a dozen shop bought artichokes, and they're happy on clay soil. So I kept the big ones for cooking and replanted the small ones, 2-3 inches down. They really don't need any attention now - they seem to be satisfied with a top dressing of compost and the occasional weed removal.
It's nice to be able to eat vegetables from your own plot at this time of year; today I also picked some leeks and found a couple of forgotten parsnips.
And we have these to look forward to - last year's chard and spinach regrowing. I should be able to get a crop off these in a couple of weeks before whipping them out for a summer crop of something else.
My last job for today was to put a cloche on the spot where I'm planning to sow the broad beans at the end of the month. The variety I use is quite hardy, but pre-warmed soil really does help, especially after all the rain we've had in the last couple of weeks. I've had these cloches for years, they do last well and this one will stay in place until the broad beans are well above the soil.
And finally, here is one of the hyacinths I rescued from the boiler cupboard a few weeks ago. Despite a diet of absolute neglect and conditions exactly the opposite of what is normally required, they are flowering! No idea how, but I'm grateful.