pesky visitors and rosy mitigation

Some dismal surprises today on a flying visit to the huerto; pigeons have demolished my beautiful Golden Sweet mange tout, along with most of the chard, lettuces and much of the spinach. Asparagus beetles have been beetling away, and a swarm of blackfly taken up residence in the tender tops of the broad beans. Booooo!

However, a bit of fast squishing, pinching out, cloching and netting before the heavens opened has, I trust, provided some respite. And just time for a photo of the standard rose ‘Boscobel’ coming into flower, along with peony Sarah Bernhardt still holding onto bud but blooming imminent.

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… and a quick pick of coriander ‘Cruiser’ and spinach from the little bed that is also home to surprisingly easily germinated salsoli, catch crop radishes and some bolthardy beetroot.

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spinach and radishes

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May progress

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warmth at last

The quince tree is appreciating the extra light afforded by the tree felling early in the year, with a more symmetrical form and healthy blossom which I hope will not be blighted by frost as they were last year. IMG_5101

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Grown from seed, I am proud of the heartsease, happy little faces which smile from their dappled basket, with the ‘insect hotel’ behind. If I were a bee, I would like to live here.

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And the plot is starting to come to life, late compared to previous years, but promising;  overseen by the majestic copper beech, colour delicious in the early summer sun. I may be fanciful, but biodynamic preparation 500 does seem to make it all shine more….

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‘Golden Sweet’ mange tout peas on the far right above- hope the pigeons don’t get them!

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crosnes invasion

How naive I was, taking so much care when planting and nurturing those first little  stachys affinis rhizomes! Now I find that it is in fact a thug of a plant, a member of the mint family and ferociously invasive. So yesterday I spent several hours grovelling on my knees forking out the spreading plague. I plan to replant some of them in a container as they can create a nice gastronomic flourish, although very fiddly to prepare. I guess some of the little devils will have escaped, but the bed is now looking clear and the elephant garlic it was suffocating now free to grow on unimpeded.

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for the rain it raineth

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This photo from inside the greenhouse says it all … I was drenched from planting out leeks and spinach. But there were some friendly faces inside:

And a nice view of the apple starting to show life. Note my car keys hanging on the shed door getting very wet! I love those hooks; trowel and fork kitch from Wilco 🙂

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spring clearing

Grappling painfully to put together a new steel potting bench (of course I didn’t have the correct size of spanner), I found myself drawn into a frenzy of displacement activity; clearing the back of the shed area. It had become a sort of general dumping ground and looked thoroughly disreputable, not helped by all the old autumn leaves lying about and debris left from the tree work some weeks ago.

I tend to go at such things like a bull at a gate. Some hours later I emerged, filthy and exhausted, but it was worth it!

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I have also finally completed the new big plot, the final touch being to top the paths with beautiful beech leaf mould from the garden at home.

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I’ve also managed to get the onion sets planted: Rose de Roscoff and Snowball. The Faulds parsley seems to be coming back but not growing on so I suspect Mr Pigeon has been enjoying a treat. Not any more, thanks to my lovely glass cloches, washed today.

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Easter harvest

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Not a bad haul for ‘the hungry gap’! But what a lot of mud…

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willowherb battle

It took me all day to remove a further infestation of willowherb from around the fruit cage. It’s a devil of a job as the little rosettes of green are underpinned by a dense network of tiny fibrous roots which also have to be dealt with. It was not ideal timing as the ground is still claggy from all the recent rain, but I wanted to plant some new bare root raspberries (Tulameen & Joan J) and a jostaberry so needed to clear the ground first.

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Awkward work, and required some pretty agile activity around the gooseberry prickles – but all done now and I’ve instated a pathway through the area that should make it easier to pick the autumn raspberries which become a bit of a jungle. The standard gooseberry is doing fine, despite its rather unbecoming support system necessitated some years ago by its collapse due to a massive load of fruit.

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let there be light

My Christmas presents happily included the services of a tree surgeon to remove the overhanging tangle of trees, mostly goat willow overgrown with ivy. They have long overshadowed the shed end of the plot and meant the greenhouse was nearly always in shade and everything thick with drifting fluff from spring catkins. The council have kindly given permission to have these lopped, leaving the cuttings for wildlife habitat. Today was the day!

Here is the scene this morning, before and then after:

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In the highest tree we found a squirrel’s drey, thankfully not yet occupied by young. So beautifully built, snug and dry inside.

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