It's still pretty cold around here – though it reached 14deg on Wednesday – but the signs of spring are already upon us. The crocuses are out in the local park, and the chives on my balcony have started growing again. The annual allotment-holder turn-over has also arrived (February is fees month at my allotment, which is when people who don't want their allotments any more bow out, and the newbies arrive), and I've met several new and enthusiastic allotment-holders.
Our allotment is also showing signs of spring. The broad beans and early peas (planted in November) are clambering upwards, and the onion sets I also planted in November are doing well. I finally dug up the last of last year's parsnips, and got a couple of real whoppers.
The 'winter' tidying-up is also gaining a new urgency. On Sunday I finally got rid of the big pile of bramble cuttings taking up the end of one of the beds. The hope was that it would rot down in place, but it was way too woody. The wood definitely is rotting – it was very easy to break up to put into the council green waste bags – but not fast enough for my purposes.
I've seen it suggested recently that one can use wood cuttings as a swale, to soak up water. You dig a big trench -- several feet deep -- and chuck the wood in, then cover it back up again and plant as normal on top. I decided against doing that on this occasion, as I didn't want to disturb the soil structure that much, but I'll bear it in mind for the future -- it might be an idea to use when digging out the potatoes next season since I'll be disturbing the soil then anyway.
It's also nearly time to start the spring planting; which is always exciting; although would be more so if I didn't have a fair amount of weeding to do first. But mostly I'm just enjoying the signs that spring is on its way.
 It will then be taken away and composted in huge industrial-type composters; then in a year or so I can buy it back at £3.50 for 40 litres.