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Friday, 17 April 2009

Busy Week

First off sorry for not updating sooner but I was getting to the PC quite late at night and didn't quite feel like typing much. Today is Friday an its been a wet start so thought along with my weekly washing I might as well dedicate some time to my blog.

I'll start from when I stopped before.
Last Saturday turned out to be a lovely day after all but just relaxed. The pace was picked back up on Sunday, when I finally got round to transplanting the young celeriac plants into their final growing positions under cloches (again because I didn't harden them off first). Mum and a friend cleared the back area where I plan to grow the majority of my squash and pumpkin plants this year. It wasn't to heavy to do as it was done last summer so it was just some autumnal regrowth to be cleared and then the area was covered with numerous sheets of cardboard to slow down anymore weeds from claiming the area again. When it is time to plant out the plants I will simply cut a hole dig down about a spades depth add some composted rabbit bedding replace the soil and plant away.

Sunday there were two firsts to report, the first was my first orange tip butterfly, no pic cause it didn't land, there were two more sightings of these during the duration of the week. The second first was the bluebells beginning to bloom.

I am afraid I also had to evict some wildlife from my greenhouse as well, it was a wasp she has been trying since last month to set up in my greenhouse but I was always disturbing her but my week away obviously gave her the peace and quiet she needed to set up shop. So when on my return I heard buzzing and saw her disappear into a cardboard box I new I had to act fast or the greenhouse would become unusable for a season. After chasing her out I got the box out which was full of my biodegradable pots. Now her nest was so perfect and delicate I felt really bad for having to remove it. She later returned and was getting really agitated when I tried to shoo her away again so I killed her. Two more showed up the day after but didn't hang around. it looks like this year my greenhouse is prime wasp real estate.

Monday I finally got round to moving the tomato, squash and pumpkin plants into the greenhouse, nighttime temps have generally hovered around 8 to 10 degrees Celsius. If the temps drop under these I would fleece them for extra protection but so far they have settled in well.

I have observed the globe artichokes have begun to germinate. The last melon plant has finally reached a size for it to be potted up into its final pot for this year. It will remain in the conservatory with the other more tender plants such as the torsha, bodi, ochro, basil, melongene and the hot and sweet peppers till mid May at the least.

Tuesday the weather is still very sunny and warm. I sowed a new one for me, it a grain called amaranth. I know another plant in this family we call it bhaji in the Trinidad and use it like spinach. the plant back at home grows wild and is also considered a weed, it is normally picked before it goes to seed while the plants stems and leaves are young and tender. The variety I am planning to grow this year gets to about 3ft in height and is multicoloured, the grain is quite small and easy to thresh or so its claimed, we'll see when I have to do it later this year.

Other jobs that got done was the planting out some donated plants from members of A4A into the herb patch, namely buckler leaf sorrel, chamomile and summer savory. The last bean trench was dug out and lined with shredded paper ready for more kitchen food waste. I also moved some of the snails and tadpoles out of the fruit mini pond into the recently cleaned veg mini pond.

Wednesday I sowed some cucumber, red orache a leaf veg used like spinach and salsify a root veg. The cucumber are in the conservatory, the orache is in the greenhouse and the salsify has been sown directly in to the veg bed, what a palaver that turned out to be. Now being a root veg I knew the soil had to be as light and friable as possible with not too many stones of which I normally have a lot. The salsify can grow as deep as 12" so I decided to dig down that much and remove any larger stones IE a child's fist size and larger. I also planned to sift the soil back in because the salsify can remain in situ till its needed and is used mainly as a winter veg, I thought if the soil is really light harvesting should be easier in the winter preventing the root snapping off when it is being pulled up, but I may also fleece the ground come autumn to prevent the soil from freezing.

So I began digging, well I think I must have hit an ancient beach because 6" down and I hit not only stones and bits of brick (old greenhouse structure used to be there) but I also hit pebbles and tons of seashells (basically the daughter of the previous residents of our home used to collect seashells and pebbles for polishing) and it looks like she dumped a lot of her spoils in this area. So that job took a while and i gained a bucket of gravel for my toils and will bag it to put to some use in the future. The only thing is the same thing will have to be repeated in about two weeks time when I prepare another area which is adjacent to this area for another similar root veg called scorzonera.

The romenesco, brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower have started to germinate. My first ladybug of the season was seen, a harliquen which is not a native to the UK. Other wildlife I spotted was the peacock butterfly, a robin foraging and a bee fly which I have been seeing a lot of since early March but I thought it was a type of hoverfly only found out a couple days ago that it isn't.

The robin I believe is a male who is currently feeding a female while she sits on a nest of eggs which she built in an erected nest box under my neighbour's rose arch. As soon as I get a picture of the chicks I'll share with you.

Lastly on Wednesday I harvested my first rhubarb of the season and made rhubarb and ginger jam, its yum but a bit sweet, the next time I'll use less sugar. It will probably be next year as my rhubarb is quite young and I really should not have taken any stalks from it this year to allow the crown to grow really strong but it was looking so healthy I thought I would take a chance and harvest from it at least once this year. The leaves which are poisonous was not just composted but was turned into a homemade insecticide to spray the young plants in the conservatory which have the beginnings of aphid attack and we can't be having that.

Thursday I went visiting with the girls to an old friend of my sisters, it was a lovely day out and it was nice seeing a face from the past who has done really well for herself and family. She also has a brand new baby just three months old who is the cutest little boy I have seen for a long time.
My garden inspection revealed that all four asparagus plants have shoots now, so I won't have to replace any :).

Well that's it for this week so far, haven't got up to much today as the weather hasn't been conducive to gardening outside, not that there aren't jobs to be done, my 1st and 2nd early potatoes need more soil to be added to their containers, hopefully I will get this done tomorrow when the weather is expected to be better. Did notice though that the amaranth sowed earlier this week have started to germinate.

Here are a few more pictures taken this week:

The apple tree is full of buds so hopefully lots apples in the autumn.

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