Wednesday, April 18

Camellias







Monday, April 16

Just a bit of rhubarb

We spent some time tidying the garden this week and also had a day out in North Yorkshire. As most other days were wet and miserable, we only managed one afternoon at the allotment. Even then that afternoon was cut short as it started to rain.

Our main aim was a bit more tidying and edging of beds ready for them to be tilled when - if ever - they dry a little. Martyn worked on this whilst I trimmed back the lavender beds and a couple of helianthemums which share the bed with the blueberries.
I ran the shears over the plants trimming off the spent flower stems and straggly bits. I didn't have time to gather up the pieces, which as you can see are left on top of the plants, before the rain started.

With rain threatening my first 'job' though was to have a wander round the plot taking some photos. The warmer weather last week seems to have spurred some plants into action. I was surprised to see that the tulips planted in the pear tree bed were flowering.
Self sown primroses are flowering in the grass paths - they don't seem to mind the fact that the grass is regularly strimmed.
At last the plum trees seem to be preparing to flower. Up until this week the trees were showing little sign of life.
The autumn raspberries are also now producing plenty of shoots.
The early rhubarb is growing quickly. Later varieties can be seen alongside the large clump in the photo on the left.
One other thing that we managed before the rain chased us away was to pull a few sticks of rhubarb which are destined to be used in a sponge pudding,

I hope that this little bit of rhubarb qualifies the post for additions to  link to harvest Monday hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Wednesday, April 11

Pieris





Monday, April 9

Not a promising start but ...

Last week wasn't off to a promising start when on Easter Monday we woke up to this:
Thankfully, the snow that fell disappeared quickly. 

We weren't the only ones to be happy about this.
On Friday we managed a visit to the plot, primarily to tidy up the greenhouse and harvest the remaining parsnips. 

Martyn did a good job of the plot greenhouse.
Whilst he was sorting things out in there, I did a bit more tidying up. Some of the beds have untidy areas at the end that have been neglected. I planned to sort these out over winter but the weather had other plans for me. The area below is only partially sorted out but for such a small patch I seemed to remove lots of grass.
 Tidying the planting bags was a far gentler activity.
So far the annuals that I planted out, although not actively growing, are surviving.
The daffodils, primroses and forget-me-nots are starting to cheer things up.
The honeyberries are also flowering but if they follow the same pattern as previous years they are unlikely to set fruit. I've since read that two different varieties are required for successful pollination, but when we bought ours there was only one variety available.

Hopefully the other fruit bushes will make up for the lack of honeyberries. The jostaberry and blueberry buds are breaking.
On Friday we gathered the best harvest of the year so far.
All the remaining parsnips were lifted. They have started to regrow so would have soon become woody and inedible. With this in mind and being loathe to waste them, I decided to freeze the ones that were left.

We managed a small helping of purple sprouting broccoli which for some reason does do well for us so this was a treat.

I found a few spring onions that had overwintered in the growing bags.

We managed another afternoon at the allotment on Sunday when we managed to plant some of our potatoes.

We planted up a bed of Casablanca - an early variety that we really like and have grown for quite a few years. We had four small tubers left so these were planted up in an air pot and left in the plot greenhouse.

In another bed we planted this year's six trial varieties - four tubers each of Jazzy,  Mayan Gold,  Elfie, Carlingford, Apache and Carolus.
The trial potatoes were planted through weed control fabric but the early potatoes were planted and earthed up. We lift the early potatoes as we need them and it easier to harvest individual roots without the fabric.

Finally just to cheer things up, I picked a few daffodils. I picked ones that were just beginning to open. The opening sped up considerably once they were in the cosier conditions indoors.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday 
hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres


Wednesday, April 4

March in pictures









Monday, April 2

A race against the weather

We managed to get another two afternoon's work done on the plot last week. Martyn consulted the weather charts and it seemed that we had until the weekend before the very wet weather set in again.

Martyn spent Monday cultivating the small beds that we always plant up first. Fortunately they had dried enough to make this possible.
Whilst he was busy doing that, I started tidying another flower bed.
On Thursday afternoon we set off to the plot with a boot full of things to plant.

Martyn started covering beds with appropriate pieces of weed control fabric and I got on with planting the annuals that had been languishing in the greenhouse. You may remember that circumstances prevented me from sowing the seeds direct in autumn. As it happened they maybe wouldn't have survived the harsh conditions last winter but they certainly were in desperate need of planting out.

I planted nigella, poppies, larkspur and cornflowers.

The plants were hardly brilliant specimens so I am not optimistic that they will thrive, especially as the weather forecasts foretell that they will have to endure some further harsh conditions. This morning - Easter Monday - we woke up to this:
I just hope that the snow doesn't hang around but the annuals just couldn't be left in the greenhouse any longer.

Martyn prepared beds for our trial potatoes and our onion and shallot sets.
Potato planting is on hold until the soil warms up a bit - we have already planted some in potato bags and have more to plant in large pots so we should manage to harvest some earlier than those planted on the plot.

We did, however plant the onions and shallot sets. The two beds were planted up with, Golden Gourmet and Red Sun shallots, and Rumba, Red Karmen, Stuttgarter and Sturon onions.


Last year's onions did really well and we are still using them from storage but unfortunately we didn't manage to plant any autumn varieties so I hope the stored bulbs don't start growing any time soon.

Once sown we placed twigs over the bed to stop any furry or feathered creatures from digging them up.

We felt better at having managed to complete these tasks as we were sure that we were going to fall well behind.  

As we were finishing off the rain started but we gathered the vegetables that we needed - a bunch of leeks and a dinky little cabbage.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday 
hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Saturday, March 31

They'll arrive when they are good and ready.

Usually we are alerted to the fact that the frogs have arrived by the sound of the males serenading potential mates. This year was different the first inkling was when, Martyn spotted some clumps of frog spawn.

We were bemused by this as neither of us had noticed any frogs in the pond.

Frog spawn without frogs was an impossible scenario so where were the frogs?

The morning after, Martyn was heading up the garden steps to fill the bird feeders when he nearly trod on something.

There on the bottom steps were two amorous frogs.
Scaling the steps up to the pond area seemed to be an impossible task for a frog carrying such a load so we decided to wait and see whether they moved.

We decided to have an afternoon tidying the garden. When working by the pond, I heard the unmistakable plop but no frog was in sight. Later I spotted this individual on guard by the frog spawn.
Was this one of the amorous pair? No they were still on the step.
As they didn't seem any nearer to progressing up the steps and as we were going to be heading up and down the steps all afternoon meaning they were in danger of being trodden on, I decided to give them a helping hand.

They were so enthralled in their passionate embrace that when I scooped them up in my hands the only movement was the stretching out of one back leg.

I popped them on the edge of the pond and the next time that I looked they had disappeared, hopefully into the water.

Last year I photographed frogs in the pond on 11 March so I had expected to see them earlier. However, in 2016 they didn't arrive until 2 April so I decided to check back a few years in my photo library. The times varied and so I decided to compare this to the average temperatures for each March and April.
It would be more accurate to say the dates were when we first noticed the frogs as this year they obviously arrived before the frog spawn which was the first thing that we noticed. However, the chart shows our frogs can arrive anywhere between the first half of March and the beginning of April.

The two earliest arrivals coincide with a warmer March and generally speaking the later arrivals coincide with the colder March temperatures with 2014 bucking the trend. 

Not accurate science, I know, but it may be concluded that although the temperatures may have some bearing on spawning time that there are other things that can also come into play and the frogs will just arrive when they are good and ready.