Saturday, March 25

Bug hotel or more accurately bug pyramid,

I've wanted to make a bug hotel for a while but I was trapped in the idea that I needed to make one from a pallet. I didn't have a pallet and so consequently no bug hotel.

Over the last few weeks we have been busily tidying the plot. Part of this has involved moving things around and carrying out long overdue projects. During this activity I was struck by sudden inspiration.

When we took over the plot  - about thirty years ago - we inherited a pile of sections of clay cylinders. I guess a previous allotmenteer had used them to grow prize winning leeks, carrots or parsnips. As we are content with edible rather than prize winning, the said clay cylinders have mainly been used to hold down, netting etc.

This was about to change as in my mind's eye was a more creative role for them.

Four of the cylinders were placed in a line and some moss covered concrete blocks were arranged alongside three sides. This was to keep the cylinders in position.

On top of the four cylinders were placed three more, then above that layer another two and a final one placed on top to form a pyramid.
I filled each cylinder with a different type of bedding material to try and encourage a diverse range of inhabitants.

Wood chippings were spread around the base with some being pushed inside the bottom cylinders. I'm hoping that the lower holes will provide shelter for the many frogs and toads that we come across on the plot. There's maybe even room for a hedgehog.
Then I found a few broken bricks of the type that have holes in and used these to 'build' a wall at the back of the pyramid. The wall should provide another type of habitat.
All the materials were either found on the plot or in the case of the egg boxes, shredded paper and dry magnolia leaves brought from home. The wood chippings are delivered courtesy of the council parks department.
Now all we need at the hotel are some guests to book in.

If you are interested I have put together a video showing the construction. It's ten minutes long.

Martyn has also fulfilled a a long time intention and created a mini pond using a rubber bin lid that was also on the plot. 
It holds a surprising amount of water. The large stoe placed in the middle is totally submerged.

Martyn posted about this on his blog here where you will also find a video of his wildlife project. 

If you like watching our videos, Martyn and I have started a vlog - Two Gardeners - One Video Diary. of all the videos taken. We have started it by posting all the garden videos taken in 2017, some of which don't actually make it onto our blogs. Here we are posting our garden related videos. Martyn posts the steam train (oops steam locomotive) videos on his blog Steam Days

Wednesday, March 22

Looking very dashing

Tuesday, March 21

Garden greenhouse update - a summary

In the comments on yesterday's post quite a few people expressed surprise that we were picking rhubarb so early and asked what the secret was.

No secret - as with many other plants there are early and late varieties of rhubarb. The clump that we are picking at the moment is an early variety. Martyn has posted about our rhubarb on his post today on this page.

Monday, March 20

Daffodils and rhubarb

Thursday 16 March
We managed to find a few sprigs of purple sprouting broccoli - PSB and a few leaves of kale. Most people seem to be having a bit of a glut with PSB but for us it is a delicacy. A couple of years ago we fell out of love with these two as they always seemed to fall foul of whitefly infestation which made harvesting and preparation for cooking unpleasant. We covered brassicas with enviromesh last season which seems to have kept the whitefly at bay and this has provided the impetus to try harder with them this year.
We just have one patch of daffodils on the plot that are grown for cutting and last week they decided to burst into bloom. The problem is that all the flowers have decided to open at once so our house is now filled with daffodil perfume.
Sunday 19 March
The Brussels sprout have done really well this year but I think last week's pickings will be the last. There are some small sprouts at the top of plants but I can't see them amounting to much.

Like the PSB and kale, the winter cabbage hasn't really performed well, however, some small cabbages are almost ready. We picked a small Savoy type - Traviata - last week.

At least at this time of year the rhubarb can be relied on to provide us with something to pick.

I'm linking this post to Harvest Monday over at Dave's blog 

Sunday, March 19

Plot update - a summary

Friday, March 17

Pollination without the buzz.

In our garden greenhouse are three large tubs each containing a fruit tree. They are a peach - Avalon Pride, an apricot - Flavourcot and a nectarine - Fantasia.
The tubs containing the trees were originally outdoors but after the first year, when we managed two delicious fruits from the peach tree, the peach and nectarine were so badly affected by peach leaf curl that they didn't manage a single fruit.
The apricot was unaffected by this problem but it generally flowers very early and so it seemed that it would be a good idea to move that indoors to to offer some protection.
This year all three trees are flowering at the same time. Last year the apricot was covered in flowers and produced a decent amount of fruit.
This year it has only a couple of small sprigs of flowers.
On the other hand the peach and nectarine are loaded with flower. The larger lovely pink flowers of the nectarine dominate the group.

The peach flowers are more delicate and less showy but viewed close up you can appreciate their beauty.

As the trees are indoors and often the greenhouse door is closed at this time of year, added to which the weather may not be conducive to encouraging insect pollinators to be out and about, I am giving nature a helping hand - literally.
Using a soft paintbrush I am trying to mimic bee action by gently brushing the pollen from one flower to another. The peach and nectarine have far too many flowers for me to make sure that I brush every flower but I am trying to visit as many flowers as possible.

One day when I was busy with my pretend bee a bumble bee joined me so maybe she will have dealt with the flowers that I missed.

I've added a short narrated video of my attempts at hand pollination. It's about two minutes long. I know some people enjoy watching videos and other don't so I am trying to cater for everyone and also get to play with video editing.  Does everyone sound weird when their voices are recorded? I should credit my cameraman, Martyn.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett