6/2/24

I discovered yesterday that while earwigs can damage some things, they are also good at eating aphids. A habitat for them to hide in is a felt bag full of wood wool. I had everything I needed, so I have made a earwig shelter , with twine for tying it into the apple tree.

Today I went to the pile of wood by the stream to give it one last look. It had been added to and tidied up. The huge piece was still at the bottom, but even better was this 4-foot-plus length that went through the middle of the pile. I managed to get it out without ruining the pile and hauled it home. It’s beautifully straight and has great hidey holes.

4/2/24

Today I pruned both fruit trees – possibly the earliest I’ve ever done them. I was feeling fairly confident about tackling the apple tree after its hard cut last year. Basic approach: take off anything incorrect, about half of the long new growth, and then halve the length of what remains. We’ll see what happens in the summer and whether it goes mad again. There was one branch that had to come off because of canker, plus a few other little damaged bits, but for the most part it’s in good health.

The pear tree is an odd thing, but I think I found a good approach and was strict with cutting off  what was heading towards/through the fence. I also shortened its right hand side to make it rounder. The centre has clearly been cut out on multiple occasions, including this time because it didn’t look right, but it does leave a bit of a hole in the middle.

The dead nettle has suddenly arrived in Elder Corner and is pushing nicely through the twig pile. The tete a tete bulbs have started to appear and some were growing through a hole in this piece of bark until I moved it to revel more bulbs.

In the afternoon I had a look under the allotment hedge by the gate and found a big lump of tree that had been cut and dumped. It’s the one with soft bark, which turns out to be cork oak. I wonder where the tree is exactly. One end had a piece jutting out and I managed to wedge it against the trellis and fence post. Putting the strong cane back into the now much smaller hole has helped support that post more.

In an effort to stop more clay running into the pond, I made a couple of hessian logs and stuffed them up into the space behind the back pole. That pole used to sit flush, but has had a gap since it was put back after the fox knocked it. There’s set mud showing on the side of the pond to the right, but it feels like clearing it out could be a net negative, disturbing it and causing more to flow.

The roots of the loosestrife and the side of some of the iris bulbs was showing, so I carefully added some more soil around them and tried to cover any soil showing with pebbles and wood. The front edge is not perfect yet. The phlox isn’t looking very healthy and I might need to move it somewhere it can root down better. The dwarf chamomiles look happy enough.

I saw my first wildlife at the pond this weekend – a tiny fly landed briefly on the surface of the water.

The physostegia by the pond has started to come up, so I’ve cut down the stalks. No sign of the veronica or helianthus yet.

3/2/24

A super productive day at the allotment, which is just as well given that I’d been longing to get down there all week.

I had made a couple of nesting feeders with a combination of pine needles, moss and Freddy’s fur. A little coconut is hanging in the apple tree and I’ve put a bird feeder of material on the left fence. I’ve also added my Secret Santa big hotel from Fiona to the left fence, screwing it to a fairly solid fencepost.

We cleaned out the nest box for spring and to my surprise found that it had an old sparrow nest and broken eggs in it. Let’s see if anyone comes back this year!

The pond water is still cloudy; the clay soil from the banks is still just washing down into the soil as the plants haven’t taken off yet. I cleared out a little blanket weed and we took two buckets of water out of the pond and replaced them with two from the water butt. I’ll do that a few more times to try and get some cleaner water in there. I also hope I might stop the earth running down from the back by stuffing the gap under the back pole with a roll of hessian.

The new laundry bin / leaf bin has been lined up next to the black bin. I gained 8 cup hooks from it and used one to hang the nesting feeder and one to make a great catch to keep the leaf bin open. I’ve moved the newest leaves to the new bin. What’s left in the black bin looks pretty good for adding to beds. Having not had many new leaves to add this winter, I think I might do a Green Lane collection in the autumn if I can.

I added a pile of Freddy’s fur to the compost bin, followed by a layer of coffee grounds and then the ripped up cardboard box from the bug hotel. I managed to add some plant stalks on top, so hopefully the cardboard won’t just immediately blow away.

I planted new spring bulbs in Bed 3, splitting two pots of yellow Romance crocuses, a pot of Large Flowered White crocuses and Large Flowered Purple crocuses. I pulled up the two toadflax plants and put two pots of Snake’s Head Fritillary in their place. One of the bulbs is closed to flowering.

I have a bag of freesia bulbs, which I’ll plant when the spring bulbs are up and I can see where there might be space. It was a miracle I didn’t hit anything putting the crocuses in. I’ve also got Nanus gladioli and Peacock orchids, which were intended to give summer colour in Bed 3, but they’re 60-75cm tall, so I think they’d be better in a border with the fence for support. But where … ? Summer colour for Bed 3 could easily come with a packet of candytuft seed and some nasturtiums.

25/1/24

My bird nesting feeder is now up in the tree, having been finished off with a bag full of hair from Lexi. It seems like it has been disturbed a couple of times, but I’ve not seen any birds on it yet.

21/1/24

Storm Isha blew through last night and unsurprisingly blew Debbie’s shed over. I think it only had polythene windows, so it didn’t stand a chance. Everything was fine in the plot, just rather wet. I picked up more elder twigs and added them to the pile around the tree. It’s going to be interesting to see how the dead nettle comes up through it.

I did a tour of the rec and picked up some good post-storm fallen pieces. A number of branches and what looks like it might be an old piece of ivy, which will make a lovely hidey hole somewhere.

14/1/24

In order to keep the possible fox visitor at bay, I’ve put down coffee grounds around the boundary. A fair amount of the coconut had gone overnight and the nursery pots were a bit knocked again, so I wonder if it has found that too. I tried to avoid the pond with the coffee, but of course the grounds blew straight onto the water 🙁 As much as I don’t want more rain making the plot wetter, I wouldn’t mind some directly onto the pond to wash it out again.

After some investigation it turned out that the pesky heavy fence post from the back plot was what was knocking my back fence over. The posts are rotten, but they stand up when the weight is taken off them. I need to find a better prop, but for now a cane has taken the weight and has solved the problem.

After reading that lacewings like to hibernate in wood wool, I took some sodden wood fibre from the pile of logs by the stream, broke it up and dried it out. I then split it into much smaller pieces to make my own wood wool. I spent a while pushing some into the bottom of the bug hotel. I’ll do the same to the new one between unpacking it and hanging it.

 

The apple tree is in need of its annual haircut. I’m hoping for a fairly easy job, taking off all the wrong bits, half the water shoots – and then halving the remaining water shoots.

One of the smaller branches has canker, probably from the cut it’s next to. I’ll most likely take it off back to the trunk.

13/1/24

Today was Log Day, but the first job at the plot turned out to be putting the pond back together. It seems like something big had been cavorting around and had knocked down the back ledge poles on the pond, upturned the plastic on Bed 1 and rooted around, and knocked over some pots in the nursery. A bunch of pebbles have fallen off the side, but there’s no hope of seeing those again until the water clears a bit more. We reconstructed the poles and I’ve put the Sweet Flag straight at last. I covered some of the bare soil and plant roots with new pieces of bark. The thyme has now has a couple of roots in the water.

I’ve added new bark and wood to the flower bed, so the toad house is surrounded by great hidey holes and there’s also a stepping stone for taking a photo too. There’s also another vertical branch for perching, be it a little bird or a dragonfly.

All the big logs I’ve been collecting from the rec and from the pile dredged from the stream have now been laid around the perimeter. I don’t need many more before the edging is all done. Some will have to come up again when I do the weeding of the bits I didn’t do in the autumn.

I’ve rearranged the bark a little under the apple tree, adding a bendy log to the corner and building a little tunnel by putting the bark pieces on top of a couple of upturned coconut halves.

My project for digging up the mint by the elder is underway in that I have three lungwort plants at home, which I will let grow a bit bigger before planting out in a few months. The digging will have to wait a little and will probably be harder work than I’m thinking. I’ll move the grape hyacinth bulbs, probably to Bed 3. I don’t mind a bit of mint either edge of the strip, so I’ll find something (edging or wood) to sink into the ground and try and stop it spreading.

One of the Russian Sages is showing the first signs of growth, but it’s nowhere near needing its spring trim. There are all kinds of little seedlings popping up in the boundaries, but I have no idea yet what I’ll keep and what will be dug up.

6/1/24

The allotment is sure to still to be under water, so I didn’t worry about going down there. But it was a nice day at last, so I went foraging for logs in the rec. I came back with a boot full of logs and branches, as well as a great big piece of bark. If I’m luck there will be a piece of wood that can cover the pond liner behind the sweet flag.

I went up to the Glebe too and picked up some sheep’s wool in the graveyard to add to my nesting material feeder along with some more moss.

29/12/23

The allotment was under water again today, but we were able to get some errands and deliveries done. The new bug hotel is now in the shed, along with another pile of coffee grounds. I’ve rewired the robin nest box to put it back straight and added a couple of leaves as encouragement. A new coconut was put up and the nuts refilled.

I’ve started another long-considered project: collecting nesting materials in a bird feeder to hang up in the spring. I picked up some moss and old coconut string for the collection (though I managed to leave them behind and will have to pick them up next time.)

The three pieces of the big log were put into place. I swapped one by the log so as to make sure that one of the new pieces with the great groove for hiding was right by the pond. I still need lots more logs and bark. As well as edging the plot, might see if there’s room for a little hollow heap or two. The stick pile at the bottom of the elder is growing as wind blows down more and more sticks. A flat piece of wood, or a paddlestone might also be a good idea in the bed by the lupin, where I keep stepping to take photos.

The stick sitting on top of the iris bulb has now been removed and put down near the toad house. A couple of little bits of nettle are coming through the pond banks from outside the plot. I’ll do what I can to keep the plant under control outside and simply cut off what emerges on my side.

23/12/23

The robin was on the fencepost before I’d even got to my shed door. I changed his coconut and put down some mealworms. The empty coconut has gone to be the second helping to keep up the wooden edging at the back of the ledge. For now at least, I’ll be sticking empty coconuts around the beds as drinking stations as part of my wildlife work.

I also have a new bug hotel thanks to my Secret Santa, so I need to find a home for that. It needs to face south-ish, so possibly on the back fence at 90º to the other one, or near the front of the shed.

Suzy and I had collected some more rotting wood from a big pile in the park and I took it down to the plot in two trips. The long branch pieces have gone along the fence line (still far to go) and some big fat pieces of bark have gone under the apple tree, on top of the hedgehog house and stood along the fence line.

I did some more staring at the pond and noticed that there are a couple of little shoots on the purple loosestrife. I’ve swapped the log piece by the beach again and covered the liner a bit better. Hopefully the marsh marigold will help in the spring too.

I’m planning to take the stones off the front ledge in the spring and build up some earth below them when it’s less wet and not going to fall straight into the pond. I’m wondering about putting the perfect piece of wood just beyond the chamomile to help the birds etc have another platform for drinking.

The liner on the left hand side is more of a problem and I have big hopes for the spring and the creeping jenny. But I think that some wood might be needed behind the sweet flag though, if I can find the right piece that will sit right.