19/5/24

The insect life is going mad at the plot. I’ve got bees robbing the nectar from the irises around the pond. A beautiful blue damselfly flitted around the pond a few times and I spotted the first hoverfly. In the water I saw a diving beetle that was a good bit bigger than the usual little ones, and there are butterfly eggs on the flag iris. Where I dropped seed on the front ledge, there are a few seedlings among the stones.

I mowed the plot to keep on top of it, but when I’m back from Salzburg it’ll need a strim and hopefully a mow on 1.

I’ve weeded around the onions to help them along. The first cucumber has been released from its cloche now. I didn’t give a thought to putting a collar around it – I’m out of practice!

JBM has donated some slabs from his old patio, which I’ve started setting out for somewhere to sit in front of the pond. With the gate, entryway and sloping ground, I’ve got some landscaping ahead of me to get the slabs straight, but also bring the ground up appropriately. This is one bag of top soil. I have two more at the ready, though they’re intended for elsewhere really – all were discounted.

18/5/24

It’s very difficult to get to work when all around the plot there are new flowers to look at.

I uncovered Beds 4 and 5 as they’ll need a bit of work and sun/rain on them. I’m glad I did, because I uncovered big ant nests. I raked them to disturb them and was very happy that the blackbird and baby robin came to get their fill of eggs. I’m not sure how interested they are in the actual ants. There was a deep hole in the corner of Bed 4, with an unidentifiable lump – quite possibly a chewed and stored tulip bulb, stolen from Bed 3.

I’ve sown a front row of candytuft in Bed 9 as it takes a while to come up and I feel like time is getting away from me a bit. I also poke a few nasturtium seeds in Beds 5 and 6, to possibly help out the plants I have at home.

I’ve propped up the everlasting peas using the hoops. I don’t know why the one by the apple tree has to be the most resplendent of the plants.

I’ve separated the two cucumbers and replanted them. A germinated seed has been poked back into the ground to carry on. Also in Bed 7 I’ve thinned and moved around what has turned out to be borage plants. I’m happy for them to help in the flower areas of the bed as they’re so nectar-rich.

I did a great chore of tidying up the nursery. One poppy got tucked into Bed 7, other pots were emptied onto the compost. I put together a terracotta pot of poppies and while I was working in my shed doorway, a red-head cardinal beetle dropped from the roof and crawled around on my foot.

What looks like godetia is growing in the cracks of one of the stone steps and nearby bindweed has found the apple stick frame.

I had a fiddle with the pond beach. Lots of pebbles had fallen in making it too shallow. I’ve made it better but it may benefit from being a gravel area. I’d like a shallow water area for birds, but it’s not really that yet. The big excitement was that I saw a pale green damselfly over the pond!

12/5/24

I sat by the pond for ages today. I spotted a new thin creature on the rocks down in the water. They seemed to move fast so I’m not convinced they were leeches. I saw another creature (the same kind?) on some algae near the top of the pond. It had a clear head and body and flexed its back end. The irises have begun to open in Bed 3 and the ones around the pond are days away from joining them.

The lupins are starting to open. This pink one is a transplant after the pond build, so it’s great to see it looking so healthy after a winter in the nursery. Foxgloves, which I suddenly love this year, have started to open. I have white a pink and this deeper pink and yellow one is just starting to open on the ledge.

I’ve marked out where the tomatoes in Bed 1 will go, and where the courgette in Bed 7 will go. I’ve finally got the latter to germinate by putting the seeds on damp kitchen towel in the airing cupboard. After all the trouble I’ve had this year, I’ll be doing that again.

Three of the 4 cucumbers in Bed 7 are now up inside their cloches. I gave them all a water to encourage the last one to get going. At the sides of the bed, I’ve added some cornflower seed. What I thought were cucurbit volunteers are now clearly borage. I’ve learned that they have new reserves of nectar every two seconds, so I’m glad to see them again for the wildlife.

A mad piece of chard had started regrowing in Bed 2, so I’ve moved it to the end of Bed 6. I was going to have a row, but it turned out that I’d thrown out the old seed. I added some cornflower to the middle of Bed 6. Most of the rest of the bed will be Summer Carousel nasturtium.

I did some pick weeding and sprinkled a little more larkspur in the flower beds. There’s little point in having it grow old in a pot. I’ve dumped handfuls of morning glory seeds along the perimeter, just in case it magically germinates and decides it can climb the fence after all.

In the heat of the afternoon I strimmed the edges and the grass. Strimming the edges is always the best way to make the plot look better. I’ve removed the plastic squares from in front of the pond now, as when I lifted them it turned out that the worms had been busy making casts up into the grids. The pond edge looks better without them, but I need somewhere permanent to sit in all weathers, as I clearly can’t tear myself away from the pond’s edge.

11/5/24

I’ve finally cleared all the pond soil off Bed 1 and used it to fill various holes in car park – including where I got stuck in the mud on Thursday. I then covered all the patches with grass seed and went over the big bare patch where the broken shed had lain for so long.

Bed 1 is now open and I’ve roughed it up. It still needs weeding though. It’s covered in ant hills, so I could do with some help from the birds. They’re getting braver, but at they’ll surely peck around when I’m not there.

I’ve put in some apple sticks to try and keep the everlasting peas from immediately going through the fence. They might just help a little.

My transplanted foxgloves are close to flowering and broadcast seeds are coming up. I’m hoping that the red-edged leaves are godetia, which will seed down for years to come like it has at home. 

I did a pretty good preliminary tidy and sweep of the shed. It still needs a proper turnout, but there’s now room to stand and move. It helped that I foisted a bucket of coffee grounds onto Mr B too. 

5/5/24

I weeded all along the ledge and did the same broadcast sowing as usual with larkspur, Californian poppy and mixed candytuft.. I put some corn cockle at the back where the everlasting peas have a bit of a hole, and sowed alyssum at front.

Bed 11 is now looking much better than before. It had turned quite green with mostly poppy seedlings and I’ve now weeded the whole bed. Since I was at the back of the plot, the birds were back on the feeder, including a great tit.

I also had a wonderful visitor when a baby robin flew into the bed and tackled a huge worm. I wish the robins would return to the plot.

When I was sitting on the ground, I saw how good the pond looked and how settled into the allotment it now is.

The hellebore now has new shoots coming at the base. I need to make sure I remove old flowers and leaves as needed to encourage growth.

All the weeding is now done. It’s now a matter of waiting for the seeds to come up – and weeds are already coming up among seedlings in front bed. 

4/5/24

I spent the morning shift sorting out the front ledge of the pond. There were lots of diving beetles to watch and there are now flower buds on both chamomiles. I added mud to the front bank and then added the new stones. The farm stone is better than the bluer paddle stones, but it’s not as wide, so the paddle stones really are the only option to overhand the edge and cover the liner. I managed to get the liner pulled up a bit before laying them, so the puffiness is a bit reduced. I sowed a little candytuft to soften the edges of the paddle stones, but really I want something low and evergreen. It’ll probably just end up being creeping jenny. 

Sticks had been pulled out of the bee hotel by something. I managed to get them all off the ground and put them back in.

Bed 3 is moving on to the next stage with poppies now flowering. The candytuft is coming up, nigella and irises too.

The carrot and beetroot are now up. I had a careful dig to see if the cucumber seed has germinated and it has. So the cucurbit-looking plants outside the cloches are definitely  volunteers.

In the afternoon I weeded all along the triangle and trellis beds. I broadcast sowed larkspur, cornflower, godetia and poppy seed. I’m really hoping i might just get a sea of flowers – which I then have to dig up a little to plop in the odd sunflower. I had a few old cerinthe seeds, which I’ve poked into woodland area just for the sake of it.

I’ve dug up the clump of mystery bulbs from Bed 9 and put them in a pot by the shed. no clue as to what they are so far.

The birds are getting the idea of using the feeder while I’m in the plot, though i have to be far away. Today I saw sparrows and a tit feeding. They could probably do with a more cover nearby, but the hawthorn under the elder is growing so fast, they probably won’t have to wait long. 

After its wind burn, flower buds have suddenly appeared on the callicarpa and it looks much better. Just along the bed, the pear tree has lots of pears coming.

1/5/24

Germination rates have not been good this year. Only a third of my marigold come tray has come up so far, even after resows. Nasturtiums either didn’t turn up or are all leggy because they’re inside. So I’ve done a new tray of marigold and sown more nasturtiums, candytuft and zinnia. These have all gone into the grow house, with the hope for warmer weather giving them the right growth rate now.

The magnificent tray of morning glory has turned out to be a seed mix up – they’re an unnecessary tray of corn cockle. So I guess some will be donated to home. I’ve packed up some old seed to take and scatter at the plot once the next beds are ready.

I thought I was only going to get 8 (half) of my sweet peas, but not long after pinching out those 8, more seeds have germinated.

29/4/24

I fetched some wood for home from the field yesterday and brought back a big stone too. There was a bunch of broken rock in various sizes, which had been turned up by the plough. I went down to the plot to do the first mow of the year today and added the stone to the pond. It looked great on the beach, blending quite well with the pebbles and green slate.

The forget me not at home is flowering, while my much younger plant is now growing hopeful-looking new shoots. The irises all around the pond have started to fatten up and form flower spikes. I saw three different diving beetles while I was messing about in the water.

The bug hotel looks great, littered with a good mix of things I’ve planted and weeds that have self-sown – and a couple of bulbs that came from the pond soil. The callicarpa looks less great, with some brown leaves. I’m hoping it’s simply wind damage.

There are lots of seedlings coming up in the front bed now. I checked on the veg beds for progress. The cucumbers aren’t up yet, but there are a couple of probably cucurbit seedlings coming up outside the cloches.

26/4/24

Most of the sweet peas have been pinched. Some are a little behind, marked for the future with clippings from the others.

There’s a mystery bulb in Bed 10, which has very suddenly emerged. This was only a flying visit, so I’m still undecided on leaving it here for a bit longer, or getting it into a pot while it’s still young.

The first shoot of the loosestrife has bent in half. I’m not sure if it’s suffered from not being wet enough, but more shoots are coming. I must try and get more earth on it, but if only it would get its roots down to the water, we’d be laughing.

21/4/24

 

Today turned out to be the day for the woodland corner. In the morning I finished clearing the mint and grass out of the bed under the elder. When I came back after lunch I saw a couple of sparrows on the feeder at last. The soil below was littered with food, which isn’t usually the case, so I must get ground feeders of whatever kind in my absence.

I went to put the hellebore in the front left corner of Bed 3, forgetting that I’d sown seeds there. I started carefully scraping a hole and uncovered a load of germinated candytuft seed!

I put a tile in to try and stop the clump of mint I’ve left from spreading out from below the tree. I put a few grape hyacinth back behind the tile too, to help out.

The bottom go the old bug hotel had completely rotted and just had a slug and a few woodlice inside. I’ve set it into the ground a little, against the fencepost. The hellebore has been planted in front of it.

I planted the three lungwort along the bed, the middle one towards the front to give room for the volunteer hawthorn to grow. I may regret this as the earlier volunteer under the elder is already 3′ tall.

The grape hyacinth bulbs have been separated into smaller clumps and dotted around the main plants. I arranged the last logs I have in the bed and then broadcast sowed larkspur and cornflower. I put a few corn cockle at the back and I hope some morning glory will go back there too. I’ve made another apple and willow screen for them to grow up and to try and keep the grass back a little. There are a couple of holes in the chicken wire which is probably where the hedgehog (which has been back recently) is getting in, so I kept those clear.