Monday 30 April 2012

Monday morning

Our world has emerged this morning from a 24 hours deluge with glorious sunshine, blue skies and birds singing. Yesterday (Sunday) it didn't stop raining - big heavy rain. The gutters couldn't cope so water was pouring from the roof everywhere. To make things more miserable there was a strong north wind. So outdoor gardening was a wash-out (!).  The local Litterpick was abandoned it was so bad.
Nevertheless we planted up 30 french beans in pots and 9 peppers.

I walked around this morning to check for damage. A sweet-pea wigwam was blown over, not too much of a problem because they hadn't really got climbing. The rose arch was at 45%. The climbing rose is very vigorous and gets super-heavy without aggressive pruning. I straightened it up - but that's a job for a dry day to prune the rose and strengthen the arch supports. Lots of other climbing roses had come away from their supports and need tying back. Some of the old fencing and the side gate are continuing on their one-way road to total dilapidation.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Rain, Rain!

It's been raining solidly since Tuesday night. We really, really need this. In addition to our 4 butts I've been collecting water overflowing from a blocked gutter in a big plastic dustbin. They have been threatening further drought and possible hosepipe bans so want to keep every drop for the crops in summer.
The situation is serious. The press has been full of pictures of dry river beds and reservoirs only half full. The little stream that runs through the field surrounding our garden (Billy's Field) is absolutely dry. Not even a slight squelch when I walked along it. No sign of water gushing from the many springs either. Last year we lost nearly all our fruit after a bumper blossom in April and May and our Dawn Redwood died 2 years ago. We suspect this might be related to lack of water.

Tuesday 17 April 2012


Here are some of our regular visitors. They are very busy now they have broods to feed. I think one pair has a nest in the boxes under the summerhouse roof. We have blackbirds nesting in the yew tree.

Bluetits feeding

Monday 16 April 2012

Sweet Peas

The northwind blew at the weekend - but no snow. It was sunny on Saturday and I got out in the garden well wrapped up for a few hours.

I set up two "wigwam" frames for Spencer Mixed sweet peas. I saved the seeds from last year and have been growing them in the conservatory and greenhouse. Now about 6ins high they are ready to go climbing. Thankfully they're frost-resistant because we had a frost overnight. We sowed another tray of bought seeds so we'll see how they compare.

The wigwams were made from hazel shoots cut last year. They haven't grown enough to cut another lot for this year - it looks like every other year we'll get more poles. We have a Bamboo which generates 6 - 8 tall, strong canes each year so we're pretty self-sufficient in supports. We use prunings from fruit trees for pea-sticks and supports for broad beans.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Cuore d'albengo tomatoes

Last year our friends Renny and Calvin visited us and saw the small forest of tomatoes we grow in the conservatory. When they got home they sent us a packet of Cuore d'albengo tomato seeds to try. It was late in the season for sowing but we put in a tentative 2 seeds - with one fine specimen reaching the roof! Eventually it produce half a dozen smallish fruits and one apple-sized which taste delicious and very sweet. This year we've planted more and are looking forward to more and bigger tomatoes in late summer.

Cuore d'albengo tomatoes from seeds sown in 2011

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Snow! careful what you wish for...

This morning we woke up to SNOW - horrible wet snow and driving wind. By this afternoon it had turned into steady rain. Only a few miles further north they had snowdrifts and roads were impassable. Reminded of the forecasts of drought and our dry weather so far this year I placed a large plastic dustbin to catch the rainwater pouring out of a blocked gutter (will get up those ladders sometime...).

Tuesday 3 April 2012

At long last RAIN!

We've got the first rain for about 3 weeks. It's a serious downpour so will give the broad beans, potatoes and peas in the veg patch a good drenching and fill the water butts. Last year we had a very dry period during April which contributed to our dearth of plums, pears and apples so we're pretty nervous. The water levels in the streams and ponds is very low.

Sunday 1 April 2012

April Fool Sunshine!

The first day of April - and a beautiful morning! The sun is shining but it's still a little cold. After a fortnight of really warm, summery weather yesterday reverted to normal March with grey sky and cold, north wind. Even so I continued with the potato planting and put in a row of mangetout peas.

Last week I discovered a box of potatoes in the garage. I store them in cardboard boxes, the kind that wine bottles come in with the cardboard sections to separate the bottles. The box had got moved onto another shelf and forgotten. There was half a box of Pentland Javelins all sprouting nicely and so I have extra seed potatoes to put in!

Up in the greenhouse discovered that the potatoes in pots had got a touch of frost. Also some of the magnolia tree blossom was "toasted". So winter is still with us.