Friday 31 May 2013

Last day of May


Here it is, the 31st and unsurprisingly I haven't finished the planting. No chance of it really but at least the good weather promised has come and there should be several days of easy work in the warm to look forward to.

holly flowers

People often predict the weather to come by reference to the quantity of berries on the bushes, somehow a lot of berries usually implies a harsh winter although I'm not quite sure why, wouldn't that just prove it was a good spring? Anyway, there's a lot of blossom on this holly. Wonder what that means.


Bright yellows are something the camera often has trouble with. This picture of a silverweed flower proves the point. A common weed, the plant has edible roots if you can be bothered to gather enough of the scrawny little things to make a meal.

young cricket on clover

A baby cricket on a clover flower. We seem to be a bit short of insects, I'm hoping they're just making a late start like the rest of the year.

The first flower came out on the Cistus today, proof that the season is advancing if anything could be.

First cistus flower 2013

Thursday 30 May 2013

Semper vivum


Houseleeks are pretty much indestructible, if you keep them from waterlogging. I like them very much and often get tempted by a new form when I'm at a garden centre. This trough* has been planted up for several years and gets the usual poor treatment. It sits on a window sill and apart from removing the odd weed seedling I don't do much for it. As a result the sempervivums are stunted and losing a lot of the character that made me choose them in the first place.

Compare and contrast if you will with the ones below, propagated by division from the above last year and potted up into fresh compost this spring about six weeks ago. I'm sure the old trough above is doing a sterling job in deflecting lightning strike but the new is considerably more decorative.

*troughs are approximately the same length.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

May but only just


May or Hawthorn is the flower of choice for May Day, celebrated on the first of May, that favoured festival of spring with dancing, drinking and the promise of young love. But the machinations of clerics and bean counters changed the dates in  1752 and brought the 1st of May forward 13 days, so that the May flowers are now always late to the party. This year they've almost missed the month altogether and although the weather is slowly beginning to move into warmth it seems that everything is still delayed by a good two weeks.

This probably won't matter much if we have a long slow golden autumn but if winter comes quickly then a lot of crops won't have time to mature - which here will mean no long keeping squashes and maybe no sweet corn despite it having just been planted out.  There may not be any dried beans either. Seed for next year may not be viable. It's not a matter of much concern yet, we're by no means self sufficient anyway, we'll just have to buy a little more but if we were dependent on our crops a few more years like the last few would see us on the verge of starvation. It seems odd to think that famine might visit the affluent west but it's only half a dozen poor harvests away.

Today I planted out the Yacon and the Ulluco, fancy goods that barely make a return to the stores anyway, just folderols and fiddlefaddles in the great scheme of things even if they do hold promise for the future.  I also put in some Irish Prean peas seedlings but hardly enough to make a seed store for next year and some Achocha, another novelty. It might be said I'm not trying very hard.

But there are bean plants waiting their turn, several squashes are now germinated and a few weeks of warm weather will see them advance rapidly. The tomatoes are in the greenhouse and beginning to set fruit. Nearly all the seed potatoes are bedded too, and the spares might just go to waste if I can't find more space for them quickly. I'm hoping to make the first harvest of earlies in just a week or two.

The forecast is set for 10 days of dry and steadily increasing warmth. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for summer.

Monday 27 May 2013

A cunning plan...

First I get really really cross with Yahoo and Flickr and delete my account. Well, I haven't done it yet but it's coming, real soon now, to an internets near you. Why they had to muck up a perfectly functional system and then break my part of it in particular is beyond me but that's what they've done and I'm totally so through with them.

This is a bit of the work that the builders are doing, changing the ceiling height in the dairy so that people taller than the pixies can work in there.  I can't use a picture from flickr and google pics come with mangled HTML that I'm too irritated to fix properly. Really I'm too angry to blog but if I don't I'll be angry AND depressed.

Anyway the real plan is that I get the vast bulk of the planting done before June, just a few short days away. Frankly I don't think I've got time, some things are still barely germinated and have no chance of being ready even if the land is prepared. Today I spent some time forking over a patch that's been under plastic for nearly two years. The soil is in quite good order but the thickness of the nettle roots around the edges has to be seen to be believed.

 When the plot is sorted out, I hope to finish it tomorrow, it will become the new bed for the South American tubers. I have Yacon, Ulluco and Oca ready to go in. One Mashua and then some beans to fill the gaps along with a few salvaged Chinese artichokes.

I'm pleased to see Blogger is as arbitrary and random with code and picture placement as it ever was before.  This second uploaded picture was dropped into the middle of a text paragraph above. Where will it all end I ask you...

Thursday 23 May 2013

Getting settled

stormy weather

I've been here for a few days on my own now and I'm trying to build a routine. Unfortunately, just like last year, the weather isn't contributing much to my health or happiness. It's cold. Sometimes wet, windy at the moment but consistently cold. Not sure if this is much different to the averages for this time of year but it feels worse than I remember, or maybe I'm just much weaker this year.

Still, I have quite a lot of the potatoes planted now and managed to womanhandle the rotovator around another patch this morning to prepare it for the last six rows of spuds and some sweet corn.  I brought the corn from a nursery in the UK a few weeks ago but it's still hiding in the greenhouse waiting for better times.

I've planted some bean and pumpkin seeds too, not up yet but they've only been in the propagator a couple of days, they need more time.

We've had a light harvest of asparagus, the strawberry bed is looking good, rhubarb and Good King Henry is in abundance and there really doesn't seem to be much to worry about.

Oh, and we have builders working on an improved dairy so that it can become a new utility room and the tractor shed for improved weather proofing there. It's all good.

rural view

Monday 20 May 2013

In residence again.

Some photos until I get settled.

sweet cicely
Sweet Cicely nicely in bloom

Bay tree in flower

Symphytum asperum
Rough comfrey, Symphytum asperum. This came from my sister's garden so I keep it in remembrance.

Wednesday 15 May 2013


Ugly bug

Nice title isn't it? I have to thank Niles for this, he brought it to my attention way before David Bowie used it as one of the 42 words to describe his current album. Anyway, it's all about the stuff under the surface, the Greek underworld, the dark and hidden depths. The sort of place in fact where horrible monsters lurk and foment into terrible creatures of pitiless cruelty. A bit like the beetle grub we discovered under the bark of a fallen oak tree last week.

Anyway, I have to admit my abject failure to keep the bloglove going. No excuses. I didn't do it and I'm sorry. The things beneath the surface that are never truly revealed to the light of this blog just got in the way and I wasn't adequate to overcome them.

And then, even worse, I started this entry at the beginning of May, set myself a task of revisiting all the links in one long list and ended up running away from the whole thing for two weeks.

Read back through April and have another look at some of the blogs linked to, they are probably more worthwhile than mine.