This week has been full of warmth and sunshine, and blue skies, but everywhere still needs rain. We have had less than a centimetre all month and last year’s pattern of over-dry Springs moving into too wet summers might repeat. Stuart said the local average for March is supposed to be 24cms! The dry soil on the allotment has been perfect for working, and I have been pulling the last of the weeds and sprinkling an organic version of grow-more over the soil and raking it in. The bottom half of my first compost bin is ready for digging into trenches for beans and peas, and the comfrey corner has started to sprout encouragingly. I want to water it to encourage enough growth to harvest leaves for under the seed potatoes. All the shallots and inions are now installed, covered with a variety of cloches, and plastic to keep the birds from tugging them out, but the root growth was so vigorous in just a few days of prep in the greenhouse that they should all be secure within a week at the most.
On Wednesday I saw three heralds of summer, one brave honey bee, one bumble-bee and a tortoiseshell butterfly flying over the plot. I also turned over a little sleeping toad, hibernating by burying itself six inches down in the soil by the wall. I put it back under the ground gently and it waved its little arm and then went back into a torpor. I shall look out for it later in the Spring. Unlike toads, our local frogs have been making merry and there is frog spawn in some of the ponds already.
This year, particularly with the bee project about to start, I have set a wide range of flower seeds. Sarah Raven writes that they prefer wide open flowers with single circles of petals to large complicated double ones, which is interesting. The herb bed has survived in part but our bay trees have sadly died in the frosts, as have the rosemary bushes. The lavenders, on the other hand have come through intact. I found three more self rooted gooseberry bushes while clearing up Julia’s garden, so we have eight now, on “the hill”. They need copious amounts of water. I have tried to prune them back into the inverted cone shape that experts recommend, but they won’t do much this year. It will be fun to weigh how much fruit we get.
All is kerfuffle at Dave and Julia’s as they try to pack up, sell, and sort all their possessions. We have been given many garden blessings in the shape of lots of plant pots , trellising and a lovely old rose bush called “Shropshire Lad”, which I have to water copiously to help it get over the shock of being transplated at the wrong time of year.
Water needs are obviously a bit of a theme in this post. But I will end with a bit of good news. The gold finches have discovered my gold-finch niger seeds at last and are tucking in. They always go round in a little gang, and make a bright contrast to my dependency culture sparrow flock.