Spring and The Man for All Seasons

The broad beans that I planted before leaving for Japan have come to fruiting. They have been slow arriving, but now they are in full fruit. We have had 3 picks from them so far and there will be more, but with the increase in heat and day length, there are no more flowers, so as we pick the last beans from each plant we pull it out and add it to the compost pile.

There haven’t been quite enough of them to get tired of them yet, we have managed them quite well. I don’t think that there will be many left at the end of the season to dry for later use. only just enough to save for next years seed.

The garlic that I planted in March is wilting now and drying off, so it is time to harvest it and lay it out for drying. This will have to wait for next week, as we are flat-out busy cleaning up the pottery and setting out our pots for the Open Studio Weekends coming up. We are pretty much ready now with only minor adjustments left to do today. I did all the lighting and most of the pricing yesterday.


Next to the garlic I planted a long row of peas which The Lovely enjoyed while I was away in Japan. They are all over now, so I planted potatoes in that spot a few weeks ago. They are all starting to show their first leaves now. They went in a month late, but I was so busy when I got back that I just couldn’t do everything at once. Pot making, kiln building, wood splitting, kiln firings, studio cleaning, weeding, mowing, planting and harvesting.




I have been back a while now and just about caught up. The garden is pretty much fully planted out with the summer vegetables and we have already picked our first cucumber, zucchinis, picked our first sprigs of basil and had a couple of meals of artichokes. Janine lifted some of the earliest garlic that had self-sown on the edge of the path, a few knobs that we missed last year, that had grown into splendid plants. They are all dried, plaited and hung up next to the stove in the kitchen. It’s so nice to have fresh garlic again. I forget just how juicy and oily it is when it is this fresh. This is the first year that we have had our own garlic last the full year. We had just 2 little dried out knobs left in the colander on the kitchen bench when Janine picked that first plant.


I have managed to make progress on the big new gas kiln for Sturt Workshops. It is all panelled and bricked up now. I had my very good friend and right hand man Warren down for a few days to give me a hand, as there is just too much to do at this time of year and I’m only one man.

Warren is an amazingly creative person. So skilful at so many things. He was apprentice of the year in his trade course. For two years in a row! Then he worked as a stonemason in Canada for a while, then as a fencer on his return, a panel beater, and a potter/sculptor, this was when I first met him. He worked in the sculpture department of the National Arts School for some years and then studied horticulture and set up his own business. An amazingly creative, restless spirit.

I taught Warren in the ceramics course at The National Arts School, back in the 90’s. On the first day of the year, I started my class by getting the students to make some good, basic, pottery tools. I took them all over to the sculpture workshop, where there were woodworking and metal working tools and vices. They were encouraged to get to know how to use these simple tools, so that they could make and sharpen their own tools. A little bit of self-reliance, that I had decided to inject into the course syllabus.

I handed out some small pieces of thin stainless steel sheet and a pair of tin snips to each of the students, so that they could cut out a small kidney-shaped profile tool. By the time I had turned around, Warren had cut out a perfect kidney shape. He held it up to me and said,

“Do you mean like this”?

I said “Yes! Exactly like that. Do you want a job”!

He replied, “Maybe, it depends what it is”

We have worked together on a casual basis ever since. When I have too much work on, it’s great to get Warren down here to give me hand. Apart from being amazingly skilful, he is great fun and we laugh a lot. Working with Warren puts a spring in my step.

Having been a panel beater, Warren is excellent with sheet metal and with the State Medal in MIG welding under his belt, he is a very useful man to have in a kiln factory. He has a great eye for detail and is very careful and accurate with his hand-work skills. This in conjunction with a few years as a mason, makes him ideal at the very fine and precise type of brick laying that I do in my kilns. It’s great to have The Man for All Seasons here in the Spring.