The garden seems to have been under snow for most of the past few weeks and Spring still feels a long way away. With more of the white stuff due over the coming days and itchy fingers I decided to do something more constructive and start keeping a note of some of the feathered visitors we have to the garden and I’ve created a new gallery page to log them.
As well as the more common garden birds like sparrows and robins we also see more interesting species like woodpeckers, bullfinches and swallows. The migrating geese fly overhead in huge skeins each year and we often get pheasants and partridges hiding away from the nearby shoot. We have nesting starlings in the corner of the roof each year and occasionally get coal tits nesting in the bird box – one year we were lucky enough to see the baby fledging, which was a real joy as it bumbled it’s way around the garden as mum and dad chattered around it. We regularly hear owls but of course rarely see them, unless on a well moonlit dog walk. One time Sandy saw a sparrow hawk shoot down to the bird table and take out it’s prey – a bit of a surprise, and not something either of us has seen since.
They’re always a joy to see and hear and I’m hoping to learn more about the birds that visit our garden by keeping this log. I’ve got an identification book by the back door to help me with this endeavour as I’m sure there must be plenty that I don’t know just now.
Introducing Blue, our new cocker spaniel puppy and nephew to Cosmo.
He’s a wee adventurous soul who loves nothing better than scampering around in the garden, which he is currently accessing through the cat flap.
Cosmo and Blue have become the best of friends and the cats don’t even seem to mind him noising them up. It’s just the hens that are really keeping him in his place with the odd peck when he gets too close.
They’re all especially enjoying the snow!
It’s been a busy start to the year but the seed catalogues have all arrived so will no doubt be settling myself down to start my 2018 garden planning soon.
A quick look around the garden this past week has given us a lot of pleasure – we have things now flowering and producing edibles that we’ve never tried before and we’ve also had three indoor cacti flower – a complete first.
One thing I’m most excited about is the apples, we planted the tree three years ago and for the first time had lots of blossom, guess the pruning worked. We didn’t know if it was self-pollinating but, looking at the apples now starting to form, I guess it is.
The tomatoes that we grew from seed are doing remarkably well and even more exciting, the test container using Chase organics SM5 tomato feed already has tomatoes, guess it’s safe to say that it works.
The potatoes are flowering. We planted Pink Fir Apples, Salad Blue, Epicure and Mayan Gold this year. As well as Oca and Jerusalem artichokes, we’ll have plenty of tubers that’s for sure.
The cucumber is flowering, a new thing we’re trying this year, It’s remarkably similar to a courgette with it’s spiky stem and leaves.
We have strawberries…
And mange tout, another new thing…
As well as lots of other edibles that are just quietly doing their thing just now. Here are the cactus flowers, so pretty…
The past couple of months have been pretty hectic with Uni assignments but they’re behind me now and I’m just embarking on my dissertation – about people who grow their own food and then share these practices through blogs and social media – should be really interesting. I’m excited and terrified of undertaking such a huge piece of work at the same time.
In between my studies I’ve been busy planting seeds and planning this year’s edibles. Biodiversity and companion planting to deter pests or attract them elsewhere is also part of the grand plan. With almost 60 new edibles for this year, along with over 20 already in the garden and companion plants, it’s ambitious, to say the least. I’ve had to set up a spreadsheet to keep me right with varieties and planting schedules. I also received a lovely box of organic veggies from Rocket Gardens yesterday with about 20 more varieties.
Thankfully our gas tank has now been removed from the back garden and a new one buried under the front lawn so we’re just waiting on the timber and soil for a new bed to take its place – it’s going to be much needed this year, along with bags and containers.
There’s still a risk of frost here just now so the conservatory is bursting with plants and seedlings waiting to go outside. I can’t wait, especially as we’ve got some interesting new things this year like Painted Mountain sweet corn, Oca (New Zealand Yams), Jerusalem Artichokes, some interestingly coloured potatoes and tomatoes – no idea how some of these things will fare in our climate and short growing season but we’ll soon find out!
We’ve already had a fantastic rhubarb harvest and I made some rhubarb ice cream for a change, oh goodness, it’s delicious, the nicest ice cream I think I’ve ever tasted – will definitely be making more. Will probably post the recipe too.
Since starting my studies my eyes have opened to many things I hadn’t known much about and this year we’re using as many heirloom seeds as possible so that we can start practising seed saving and it’s organic all the way – I had no idea about the control of agrochemical and seed companies and the huge global loss of biodiversity – very much looking forward to trying out these organic feeds that were kindly sent to us by The Organic Gardening Catalogue (I have a feeling this could become a new favourite site).
I’m trying to be a bit more organised this year so have spent some time this week going through all my seeds, bulbs and young plants working out what needs sowing, propagating, planting etc and when! The conservatory is fast filling up with things in pots as it’s way too early to risk putting anything outside yet – we learned our lesson on that score last year! We’re also not risking being so late that loads of things don’t make the productive stage (another lesson from last year).
It looks like, all being well, we should have a great harvest this year, with well over 40 fruits and veggies, not counting the herb garden. We’ve also got some interesting new things to try like, oca, cucamelons and heirloom corn as well as some more unusual varieties of other kitchen garden staples.
In other news ‘operation gas tank’ has begun – predictably what was supposed to be a 2-day job has already been four and we’re only halfway through. The front lawn was dug up and a new gas tank inserted. Some of the internal connections have been done however there still needs to be some pipework done to connect the new tank to the house. Once that’s been done they’ll transfer any gas from the old tank in the back garden to the new one and then remove the old tank. I can’t wait – we’ll be able to make a lovely new bed in that space, just as well with all the seeds and plants I’ve bought.
I also heard this week that the very kind people at What Shed have listed APG in their round up of Best UK Gardening Blogs – thank you! You can check out the others on the list here.