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Page: Apr 2015 wk 2


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Wednesday 08 April 2015

Doing the Unthinkable

Wednesday was another glorious April day but a little cooler than the previous two days.

I decided to try a little bit of cultivating on the plot. We are in need of a bed to get some of our onions and shallots planted out that have happily been growing in modules in the cold-frame and greenhouse at home.

Once on the plot I decided to try cultivating the bed on plot 42, allocated for onions this year. There are four small beds for which we carry out a four year crop rotation. If that bed dug satisfactorily my plan was to dig the adjacent bed which is due to be planted up with peas.

These two beds dug very well with the soil breaking down into a fine tilth.  Once this was done the weed control fabric used for each of these crops last year was moved back into place.

The problem was that it was impossible to dig out the roots of the weeds as the soil just stuck to the roots in clumps. It didn’t seem to be too wet but by the time the soil had been bashed off the roots lots of pieces of root were scattered on the soil in any case. I didn’t know whether to leave the bed in the hope that the soil condition would improve at some time in the future or to do what any self-respecting gardener wouldn’t do, and dig the weeds in, using my cultivator to break up the soil. I decided on the latter.

I thought I’d next try my luck on the bed which had been hand dug over in autumn and left for the winter’s frost and rain to break down the soil. This didn’t work and the soil remained in large hard lumps. Weeds are now starting to grow especially creeping buttercup which can soon take over large area if not kept in check.

The cultivator broke up the large hard lumps of soil into much smaller lumps of hard soil but the bed did look much better. It still needs to be broken down into a better tilth and of course there’s going to be a problem with weeds. I’m considering just covering the bed with weed control fabric and digging it over again when I have some time. I’m not at all sure why the soil in this bed has finished up in this condition.  

Thursday 09 April 2015

Taddy Update

Thursday continued the excellent spell of weather we’ve been having over the last few days. It was a bit of a chilly start to the day but during the afternoon Thursday became the new warmest day of the year with a temperature of 20.2°C (68.4°F).

You may remember that our first frogs were so eager to spawn that they didn’t manage to make it to the pond instead depositing a clump of frogspawn in a plant saucer. At the time I was unsure what to do with this clump. It was left in its saucer for a couple of days while we pondered what to do. Before we’d decided we noticed that the frogs had produced more frogspawn but this time at least they’d managed to get it in the pond.

I felt a little bit less concerned about that first attempt. I found an old plastic fish bowl sort of container and thought I’d pour the frogspawn into it and add some pond water. I planned to leave the container in the shade so that the tadpoles didn’t get poached or boiled.

Well so far my little container has worked well, perhaps a little too well and we have dozens of tadpoles swimming around in the bowl of water. I’m guessing that the water in the bowl is warmer than the pond where the development of the spawn into tadpoles is going on at a much slower pace. Our fish don’t seem to have found a route through the weed to the spawn so maybe there is a chance of some surviving in the pond.

I’m now trying to decide the best way to look after out tadpole bowl. I’ll keep exchanging some of the water in the bowl for some pond water in an effort to stop the water going stagnant. The question is what should I feed the tadpoles on? At this stage I’m going to try to sprinkle in some finely ground up fish flake and see how they do. I don’t suppose we’ve any chance of rearing vegetarian tadpoles so when the little creatures start forming their back legs we’ll have to change their diet as they change form vegetarian to carnivorous creatures. Cat food is one suggestion I’ve seen on the Internet but the quantities have to be kept very small or the water gets polluted. Too little food and they start eating one another which I’d like to avoid at all costs.

There’s a short video below showing our tadpoles in their bowl and frogspawn still developing in the pond.

Friday 10 April 2015

Going Out In Style

Friday finished the week off with yet another high temperature as the thermometer touched 21.3°C (70.3°F).

Back on the 20 March our Marshalls brassica collection arrived. These plug plants were planted up into modules and left to grow on a little in the greenhouse before they were moved into the cold frame.

From past experience I’ve learnt that treated in this way the plants soon recover from their trip in the postal system. The plants had grown sufficiently to be ready for transplanting into the plot so Friday was their big day.

Cauliflower - Mayflower 20 March 2015

Cauliflower - Mayflower 10 April 2015

The cauliflower - Mayflower, shown above, were planted out along with cabbage “Duncan” and calabrese “Marathon”. All the plants have been covered with lightweight environmesh to keep butterflies and as many other pests off as possible. One cabbage white butterfly was trying to settle on the leaves as I was putting the plants in. What a nerve! At the moment the mesh is laid over the top of the plants and will need adjusting as the plants grow.

Saturday 11 April 2015

A Bit of a Shock

The mild sunny weather of last week came to an end on Saturday. It was a bit of a shock to the system to find it cool and windy outside after all the fine weather. We had plenty of sunshine through the day but the strong wind took the effect of the sunshine away.

Temperatures with wind chill Monday 06 to Sunday 12 April 2015

That high temperature of 21.3°C (70.3°F) didn’t manage to beat my highest recorded temperature in April which stands at 24.7°C (76.5°F) set on 23 April 2011.

The forecast for the today and the early part of next week is for more strong to gale force winds over the next few days. I’m guessing that’s not good news for our plum blossom which was just starting to open on Friday.

Sunday 12 April 2015

What a Disappointment

Last week was so good the weekend’s weather turned out to be a big disappointment. After a windy and cold Saturday, Sunday was probably the worst of the two days. It was windy and cold in the morning but at least the rain passed us by to the north.

We weren’t so lucky in the afternoon as some light blustery showers arrived. It felt cold outside. I can vouch for that as I had to make some temporary fence repairs early in the evening as the constant battering from the wind eventually took its toll on one of the fence posts. With more strong winds forecast for the next few days I decided immediate action was required before the whole fence was brought down.

The weather has put our gardening activities on hold. It’s a pity as we were making good progress on the plot and in the garden. I’m hoping that the onions, shallots and brassicas that we planted out on a lovely Friday afternoon haven’t suffered too much over the weekend. Will our “veggie mesh” covering our brassicas still be on our plot, another allotment or the fields beyond?

Monday 13 April 2015

A One Night Stand

The forecast for Monday turned out to be wrong. Those gale force winds that were forecast didn’t arrive. At one time on Sunday we had a Met Office warning of gale force winds for Monday and Tuesday but by Monday morning that had been lifted. Monday wasn’t a bad day after all with some decent sunny spells and temperatures around average for the time of year.

If you’ve been following our great tit nest box camera saga you’ll know that one day last week the two great tits that had roosted in our box for several nights appeared to have an early morning tiff and that only one returned to roost the following night.

This is our lone great tit roosted up for the night all alone. Then the following night this happened.

Once again two birds roosting maybe some nest building was still a possibility. It wasn’t to be, as in the early hours of the following morning once again the two birds appeared to squabble and part company.

We’re now back to one bird and are starting to give up hope of the idea of any nest building taking place.

We’ll be adding some video of the events to our link to the nest box page which you can find here.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Highest Average Daily Temperature of the Year

Based on the average daily temperature,Tuesday finished as the warmest day of the year with an average of 13.4°C (56.1°F). It wasn’t a particularly warm day which helped achieve this, although late into the afternoon some lovely sunshine made the temperature rise to 19.6°C (67.3°F). The fact that we had a very mild night with the temperature not falling below 9.7°C (49.5°F) helped lift the average daily temperature. It would be nice to be able to guarantee that as an overnight value in the greenhouse for the next month or so but I suspect it’s not going to happen and we’ve a few more chilly nights in store.




This pulsatilla is looking good in the pebble garden.