Monday 27 March 2017


So many birds and so much activity!
A lot of birds have come back from their winter hideaways to start their families in our more gentle climate. We've had a thrush singing almost non-stop for 4 weeks. He's been sitting on the top of the walnut tree or the old ash tree in the field and entertaining us with his powerful, repetitive tune. This week he's come a bit closer and sitting on the hawthorn tree behind the studio  - maybe a nest?
We've had pheasants - a pair, and now a couple of youngsters, after the peanuts and seeds I occasionally put out when the weather is cold, several great tits, robins of course - following me as I dig the veg plots, a pair of crows, lots of pigeons, and I spotted a goldfinch on the Korean Fir.
Today I say a green woodpecker on the walnut tree. We don't often see them, though we hear them a lot in the wood and flying over the fields. There are a lot of holes in the trunks of the old plum trees up in the orchard, probably made by great spotted woodpeckers. Haven't seen so much of them since we stopped putting out peanuts in feeders. We used to get them regularly and they also hunt for bugs in the bark of the now-dead dawn redwood. But there's not much bark left on that now - the remaining strips were blown off in storm "Doris" last month.
When the weather is fine there's usually a buzzard or two circling overhead, with a couple of crows mocking them! The buzzards can fly faster and higher than the crows but seem to tolerate them. maybe it's just a game for both species.

Monday 20 March 2017

Start of Sowing

Start of the sowing season:

At the weekend I planted 73 Broad bean seeds in pots (4 or 5 to a pot) in the greenhouse. I usually try to save some from the previous year's harvest, but for some reason (possibly such wet conditions) the pods went rotten rather than nicely dry as the Runner Beans did. So this year I had to buy new beans. Previous variety was Masterpiece Green Longpod which are prolific and tasty, but couldn't get those so bought Imperial Green Longpod. We'll see how they are.

The first few years here I planted the beans straight in the ground and they did fine. Broad beans are faily hardy so it doesn't matter if there is a late frost. But then we had a couple of years with beans rotting or being eaten. So back to planting in pots so at least they will get a good start before going out.

Yesterday I planted 40 Beetroot seeds (Boltardy) in modules in the greenhouse. Beetroots are OK to plant straight in the soil, but then you have to thin them out. Starting them off in modules means they can be spaced out nicely from the start.

I have a couple of tubs of Sante potatoes (saved from last year) in the big conservatory. I planted 4 tubers in each of 2 large pots about 5 weeks ago and the shoots are just poking up now. They should provide a couple of meals before the ones in the garden are ready. I've tried a couple of times planting in pots before Christmas, but they never seem to come up until March anyway and in the greenhouse they tend to completely disappear from the pots (eaten by mice?).
The last few years have not been good for potatoes so I've restricted the planting to 2 varieties which usually do OK here - Sante (white) and Desiree (red).  I have them chitting in the conservatory. There's about 20 Santes saved from last year in a cardboard box which are nearly ready for planting. But I have to get the beds prepared first. Lots more compost in them and some nutrients. I normally throw a few chicken manure pellets around and this year I have some Seaweed Extract from the Organic Seed Company where I bought this year's spuds and seeds.  Maybe some interesting perfumes!

Thursday 9 March 2017

Spring bulbs

The Spring Bulbs are really getting under way now. The snowdrops are looking a little wind-blown now, but have been amazing this year. The crocuses are magnificant and the daffodils are just starting to open up. Some of the small ones in pots have been open for a week or so - some varieties open earlier.

Spring bulbs in the grass under the cherry tree

The last few days have been sunny and quite warm but the soil is still very wet. I dug over one of the vegetable patches at the weekend and the top part was really soggy. Need to put some compost in there before planting out.

One or two bumble bees around and I spotted a couple of butterflies. So must be Spring!