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As the tide begins to go out on the Christmas Whisky bottle it is a good opportunity for us to look back on the year at High Bank.  As always the 12 month path has not been a straight one, littered with successes and failures, good crops and bad crops, sunny days and rainy days, but either way they are all just moments grasped and made into life.

2013 was a good vintage in terms of the weather, in spite of the newspaper doomsayers declaring in April there would be no dry summer in the UK for many years to come (supporting my belief that newspapers are only good for lighting fires and wrapping crockery,) like most of England we have had a glorious summer of bright and blazing sun.  All of this is of course great news for the self-sufficiency gardener and at High Bank we made hay while the sun shone.  The great weather meant no slugs (praise be,) fewer weeds, no rotting fruit and most importantly richer tasting produce.  Of course the dry weather created other complications for example the pressure on water collecting systems (note for the new year: our water butts are inadequate for a good summer.)

The good weather was enjoyed by most of the guests at High Bank who enjoyed exploring the divinely rich Shropshire/Herefordshire countryside in all its bright glory.  Coinciding a visit with some good weather comes highly recommended.  On a sunny day little can be more tranquil and life-giving than activities like walking the Shropshire Hills or driving through the Herefordshire landscape or exploring the areas history like our village’s own St Bartholomew’s or Stokesay Castle, all the while taking in the stunning views.

herefordshire 3

On a personal note the year was made perfect by the arrival of our little bundle of love in May, a ray of sunshine that has eclipsed all else.  Her arrival may have slowed down production briefly but we are spurred on by the promise of little hands sowing and weeding in the future.
It would be fair to say that all the fruit and veg produced this year has been more successful than it was in 2012.  Except perhaps the sweet peppers which came very late and in short supply and were never made available to guests this year.  This was probably caused by a delay in planting the seedlings out due to the aforementioned May arrival.  More about the ups and downs of 2012’s produce in the next post…

This month’s rain proves that no 12 months can ever be summed up simply and all growers and self-sufficiency gardeners have to be prepared and covered for every type of weather that can be thrown, and often within one growing season as well.  It would be as foolhardy to plan a drought tolerant garden after this summer as it would have been to plan a boggy garden after 2012.  We have to be adaptable and prepared to cover every base.

sky clear and calm after quite a windy day, temp 3c.
Time for a Dram