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.