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Monday 01 April 2013

Frog Spawn

I’m not really sure whether I’ve just missed this event or our garden frogs are a little late with their frog spawn because of the cold weather.

We see frog spawn every year in our pond but never manage to see any tadpoles or baby frogs. We always assume that the fish eat the frog spawn although at the moment the level of fish activity is almost non existent. I’m assuming the fish are remaining low in the water waiting for it to warm up a little. The frogs have laid their spawn in a very vulnerable position as its very close to where the blackbirds enjoy bathing. We’ll have to see what happens.

There’s still a little bit of snow from last week hanging about in the garden. A little bit more melts each day. This conifer by the pond will soon be snow free.




Tuesday 02 April 2013

Those Responsible

Yesterday I posted some pictures of the frog spawn in our pond. When I took those pictures there was a distinct lack of any frogs on view. That’s a little bit unusual for our frogs as they’re normally up for having their pictures taken.

As you can see that changed today. As I headed up to the greenhouse I spotted this little chap or chappess sitting by some frog spawn.

I moved round the pond to get a better view expecting to hear that sploshing sound of a frog heading for cover. It didn’t and I thought he or she had the rather smug look of a job well done.

Later as I passed the pond the frogs were underwater. I don’t think I wish to know what was going on down there. Please excuse the rather blurry picture as the water is around 24 inches deep at this point. I had no intention of snorkelling to get a better picture.

Can you count how many frogs there are in this melee?

Wednesday 03 April 2013

Busy Frogs

Wednesday was a lovely sunny day with lots of sunshine but the temperature still didn’t quite manage to make it into double figures with a high of 9.1°C.

A couple of days ago I posted a picture of the frogspawn in our pond. I’m certain now that our frogs are a little late this year as over the last couple of days lots more frogspawn has appeared. It’s a little difficult to know which clump I noticed first now but here’s my latest picture.

One of the few benefits of the cold start to spring is that our Hellebores seem to have been flowering for ages. These on our back border are now starting to look a little past their best but have put on an excellent display despite all the frost and snow.  

Thursday 04 April 2013

Making a Start

Thursday was another sunny day but the cold temperatures persisted with a maximum of 7.6°C well below the expected average for early April.

In the sunshine though it’s pleasantly warm in the greenhouse, warm enough to tempt me to sow some broad beans Witkeim Manita and our usual selection of leeks Blue Solaise, Giant Winter and Prizetaker. These have all been left in our cold greenhouse to germinate. Details of this month’s sowing are on our web page here.

Although our greenhouse gets warm during the day the temperature falls away rapidly in the evening. Our grape vine Himrod is stubbornly refusing to show any signs of starting into growth this year. Last year we had some good shoots at the beginning of April but this year not even any signs of buds forming.

Last year at this time we hit a pretty cold spell and after a very mild March. Everything seemed to stop growing for a number of weeks even in the greenhouse so hopefully some milder weather will give this years plants a boost at just the right time.

Friday 05 April 2013

A Final Thought on March

Friday continued the trend of plenty of sunshine but a cold north to north easterly breeze making it feel cold.

As a final thought on a cold March lets assume that once the temperature gets above 10°C plants have a fighting chance of growing and that once the temperature falls below 3°C they find the going a little bit tough.

Firstly comparing hours above 10°C for 2012 & 2013:

In 2012 recorded hours above 10°C was 239

In 2013 recorded hours above 10°C was    0

Secondly comparing hours below 3°C for 2012 & 2013

In 2012 recorded hours below 3°C was 37

In 2013 recorded hours below 3°C was 426

These figures probably go a long way to explaining why our plants are slow into growth this year. As we approach the end of the first week in April our warmest day of the year is still 29 January when the temperature reached 13.7°C. Since then double digit temperatures haven’t existed. Roll on spring.

Saturday 06 April 2013

Made It At Last!

We were treated to double digit temperatures on Saturday as the thermometer hit 11°C. As the sun was shining too this tempted us down to the plot for the first time in over a month. The first thing to strike me was that the plot clearly hadn’t missed us since the last time we visited. The grass and weeds aren’t growing and the fruit trees which would normally be in flower now are only just showing some signs of growth.

The first job was to see if the bed dug over last autumn would be in a good enough condition to plant some early potatoes.

After removing a few weeds and tidying up the edging the bed looks ready for planting up. Whilst the soil looks dry on top it is fairly wet underneath. On to another bed where I wanted to clear a few weeds. This was too claggy to clear the soil off the weed roots so I decided to leave this bed for a few more days to dry out.

I decided to have a look and see if we still had any carrots worth harvesting.

These are Flakkee which have survived winter pretty well. About 50% were assigned straight to the compost heap having either rotted and turned mushy over winter or been damaged by slugs. The carrots above will get the taste test on Sunday but the parsnip below definitely won’t.

We had a few parsnips left in the ground but these were only fit for the compost heap having succumbed to the dreaded canker over winter.

We still have some leeks left that have over wintered. The best looking of these is a variety called Blue Solaise which when I harvested and cleaned off a few outer leaves looked pretty good. Our over wintering brassicas haven’t recovered from the wood pigeon massacre but in the debris there’s still one or two cabbages worth cutting. This winter savoy Alaska is only small but doesn’t look too bad and is a treat at this time of year with a scarcity of fresh vegetables to gather from the plot.

As for planting the potatoes I think I’ll leave it for another week. The soil can’t be very warm and over night Saturday into Sunday produced another frost with the temperature down to -2.4°C.

Sunday 07 April 2013

Difficult to Believe

We spent another couple of hours at the allotment tidying up our fruit bushes and strawberry bed as well as weeding to prepare beds for digging. It’s odd working on the plot at the moment because the weather has made such a slow start to spring everything still seems to be in winter mode and it’s hard to fathom out what month we’re actually in.

On the plot this year nothing is making any effort to grow compared to last year when the pear blossom was out, the hawthorn was coming into leaf, and the redcurrants were in leaf. The grass was growing well looking lush and green and dandelions in the grass were flowering.

The forecast for the coming week doesn’t look to have much to offer in the way of warmer weather. That milder spell of weather can’t come quick enough to get spring finally under way and put an end to winter which has gone on for ever this year.