Tag Archives: dogs

Spring. It’s Surely Now Here!

Spring Violas. They made it through the snow.

Spring Violas. They made it through the snow.

Spring is finally on its way, according to the weather forecast. Warming up this weekend, or at least the Easterly wind reducing in strength. So at last we might be able to contemplate sowing seed outdoors soon. The snow has now gone from the garden, thankfully, though in northerly aspects on the fields it remains.

My son came over yesterday and helped me complete the clearing of the bed near the house I’ve decided will be a good vegetable starting point for this year. It’s higher, being closer to the house, so better drained, easy to access from the patio and therefore easier to water and harvest. There’s a water butt very close by and outdoor tap should I need it. Here I will plant the broad beans I sowed last October and are now desperately in need of planting. I’ve put a tunnel cloche with fleece over the newly invigorated soil. It’s been cleared of builder’s rubble, thoroughly aired, stones and old tree roots removed and every weed removed. It’s also been protected from the cold by covering it loosely with plastic sheeting since before the snow. This has kept it relatively free of frost and will consequently be warmer to put my young plants in.

A Work in progress. Tunnel cloche up.

A Work in progress. Tunnel cloche up.

I then added loam made from last year’s turf stripping that has been stacked and covered with old carpet ever since. So my beans and garlic plants, in modules since October, can finally go in. I’ve also got rhubarb to plant, though that will be in the lower bed that drowned last year. I’m raising it using gravel boards (very cheap) and praying for a better growing year with a more moderate rainfall. There is a lot to do.

I’ve also had a rare brainwave. I’d bought some little plastic balls designed to connect canes together to make a cloche. They didn’t work very well, but I had some old tent poles that link together. With the addition of the plastic balls I’ve made a cloche for the small bed next to my greenhouse, so that’s now covered with a decorating sheet and an old shower curtain just to get the soil warmed before I sow and cover with protection from the pigeons. I’m not sure yet what to plant there, but I’d like to put some meadow flowers in to attract in the bees and other insects. I have plenty of seed, so it’s just a case of making up my mind!

I’ve written this over a couple of days. Today (Sunday) I finally managed to get my garlic out of modules and into actual living soil. Hooray! I’ve put it in the bed near the patio, which has now had some blood, fish and bone added. I’ve spent the last two days on gardening after a long period of cabin fever caused by the cold and snow. It’s been hard work but bliss to be outside. As I’ve been given a power washer by a kind neighbour, I’ve even  started cleaning the filthy, neglected for twenty years patio. The slabs are coming up OK. It all needs re-doing, really but cash is needed for that so it will have to wait. It’s uneven, we think because of the trees that were planted too close to the house, so we will attempt to level it up for now with the help of my son.

Cheery daffodil

Cheery daffodil

Last years’ Spanish Bluebell fight is back on. I’m still digging them out. But my daffodils are open, and look lovely. Strangely, so are snowdrops. They’ve been delayed by the cold, but are a welcome sight. The big hit is my violas, planted last Autumn. They sat under all that snow and flowered as soon as it melted.

The jet stream is still too far south, but tomatoes were ready to be pricked out today, and now sit on my windowsill in the conservatory. Three varieties. More about those next time.

My new dog, Daisy, has really settled in and is determined to help by making sawdust of any stick I’ll throw for her. Here she is after an exhausting game of ball. She’s going to be my very own Nigel, for those who watch Gardeners World. She follows me around as I get on with work out there, and seems to love watching what I’m doing. Or chewing up wood, or watching next door’s chickens through the fence.

Daisy

Daisy

Anticipating Daisy

Daisy - soon to be part of the family.

Daisy – soon to be part of the family.

We’ve built a hasty, temporary fence around the patio. Daisy will not be allowed to come home unless we can show a safe ‘turning out’ area for her. We managed, just, to get it up before the snow. The RSPCA volunteer home inspector was meant to phone us by today, but we’re still waiting. It’s frustrating as we want to get her home, but understandable that there may be delays caused by this unprecedented snowfall. We seem to have had it quite bad compared to our immediate neighbour towns and counties, but not as bad a Scotland and Wales, so I guess we should be grateful we have power and heat and can get to the shops.

It’s the heaviest snow I’ve ever seen, and the meteorologists are calling it the coldest March in fifty years. Seeds will have to sit and wait in the greenhouse for the return of spring, as I’m not going to waste fuel heating them. As we don’t know what’s coming next, there seems little point in trying to rush things. I will for now concentrate on finishing the decorating in the conservatory. The woodwork had been badly neglected and terribly painted so I’ve stripped it back and it’s almost ready for repainting. I’ve had to dig away at old paint as the opening lights above the windows had been painted shut. They are now out of their frames so I can sand inside the architrave and free them up for future use. Not exactly fun jobs, but once done will look so much better and the windows will be usable again.

Houseplants are starting to grow as the light levels rise, so I’ve started feeding them again. I’ve also bought a small fatsia japonica, which is a plant I have known all my life. My dad had a small one, once. Of course it grew and grew. I was raised in a bakery, and my dad only had a small backyard in which to satisfy his passion for growing things. He moved the fatsia outside, gradually putting it in larger pots. It was nicknamed Billy. Eventually, Billy flowered and produced seed. My dad germinated the seeds and he propagated it by cuttings. One of them went with him when he and mum moved house after I was married. It was called ‘Son Of Billy’ and still grows in my parent’s garden today, and they’re now in their eighties and I have a grandson. I had a ‘Son Of Billy’, too for ten years in one of my previous homes, but couldn’t bring it with me as it was a mature shrub in the garden, and I hadn’t managed to get a cutting to strike.

Now I have my ‘forever’ home I decided I want a Billy around the place again. He’s in the conservatory until ehem, ‘summer’. He’ll then go on the patio, come in next winter and then, weather permitting, next year, he should be strong enough to survive outside planted in the garden.

Do you have a memory of a particular plant?