HTFU

April 27, 2016

We woke this morning to clear skies and glorious sunshine – and no frost on the grass, for once, which was an improvement on the last couple of weeks. What better day, I thought, to take the peas and beans out of the greenhouse where I started them in a panic at the end of March and try and harden them off to plant them out before it’s actually May? And maybe get some washing out to boot?

hailstorm on laundry

And yes, I did stop to take a photo for the blog before rescuing the washing …

In retrospect, a day when it didn’t keep suddenly hailing, alternating with snowing, might have been better.

The weird thing was, in between hail/snow showers it was rather nice and even warm. In fact, I was sitting on the bench with my lunch when the first lot fell and it confused me because there I was enjoying the warmth of the sun, and here was this white stuff falling out of the sky – I confess, I looked up to see if there was a jackdaw or something dropping things because that made more sense than snow.

Anyway, according to all the gardening columns, hardening off your glasshouse-grown plants is a gradual process of putting them out on sunny days and progressively getting them used to the great outdoors with longer spells in the cold and eventually keeping them out overnight – not subjecting them to a day of violent freak weather conditions and hoping for the best.

broadbean seedlings

Fortunately, my peas and broad beans seem a pretty hardy bunch. With any luck they’ll survive tomorrows plague of frogs, or whatever it is the Weather Gods have in store, and I can plant them out at the weekend, ready for it to hail taxis.

Pea seedlings


Springing up

April 18, 2016

Working away at the kitchen table this morning I was interrupted by a familiar and very cheering noise

Yup, the swallows – or rather swallow – was back, sitting on the wire, chattering away, wondering where everybody else was. I’d seen one briefly yesterday on my way back from the litter pick (which went fine, by the way; someone came to my rescue and helped out with the teas) but nothing in our yard until just now. It’s always a little sobering how many we send off at the end of the year, and how few come back in the spring but hopefully this is just the harbinger and won’t be quite so lonely by the end of the week*

Other signs of spring are somewhat less welcome. Like the crunching noise underfoot that indicated I’d just unwarily stepped on a snail (I’m no fan of snails, but I prefer to give them flying lessons than completely flattening them).

Oh, and time to start weeding the cobbles again. Long since, in fact

dandelions

*Indeed, cycling down for the paper, I happened across a chap I often stop and talk to – he’s a birdwatcher too and we normally exchange sightings of there’s anything to report. Naturally I told him about my swallow and as I encountered him on the way back he started waving madly and pointing up at the sky where there were four swallows. It’s moments like this that really make my day …


Ready or Not

April 5, 2016

Are you bored of the ‘I’m too busy to blog about anything except about how I’m too busy to blog’ posts yet? I know I am … Things are hotting up as the preparations for Pedal on Parliament enter their last few weeks and suddenly it’s April and how did that happen?

Anyway, for those of you waiting with bated breath to find out whether the seed potatoes survived, they appear to be fine. Not planted yet – don’t be ridiculous – but fine.

seed potatoes in greenhouse

And I think they may be ready to start growing, if the potatoes we had stored in the basket in the kitchen are anything to go by.

potato shoots

Let me out of here!

I shall enter the greenhouse warily next time I go up. I don’t want to be grabbed by the ankle by a desperate tuber shoot, begging to be planted.

potato shoots


It Can’t Last …

March 28, 2016

wheelbarrow with a view

… but I actually managed to find the time to get out and do some gardening over this weekend. Not much, but a few barrowloads of manure were hacked out of the nettle heap and transferred to the greenhouse. If I get really reckless, I might even start some seeds, or just dig up the parsnips which have emerged now that the soil is warming up a bit

parsnips re-emerging

… and tomorrow, I will even be able to return to yoga. Actually, these two announcements may not be entirely unrelated…

sunshine and showers


Sure Signs of Spring

March 22, 2016

Greyish brown blobs of frogspawn in every puddle and ditch…

frogspawn

… and litle white blobs fleeing over the hill at the sight of a blogger with a camera phone

fleeing sheep and lambs

You’ll just have to take my word for it that the lambs are gambolling away like gooduns and are very cute, but a tad flighty.


Wait for MEEE!

March 14, 2016

And now, bang, spring has arrived and oh God I’m not ready. In fact I’m not even sure what ready might look like and I don’t have any time to get ready either. I’ve done nothing in the garden for weeks and when I went to drop off some seed potatoes from potato day to my gardening chum today* he’d got his tomatoes and leeks and peas all growing away on the windowsill already.

Seed potatoes

Seed potatoes from Potato Day. An even more random selection than usual because I had to deputise my parents to pick them up and they had to substitute some of my (already quite random) selections for random selections of their own.

It doesn’t help that – as alert readers may have already divined – our househunting activities have switched from ‘vaguely hoping someone might sell us a house’ to ‘actually going and looking’ so there is a real danger that we may buy something before I’ve harvested so much as a new potato. Still there’s an equally real danger that we’ll still be here this time next year in which case it would be good to have planted some vegetables. After all, as has been pointed out, vegetable seeds cost a few pounds whereas houses cost quite a lot more, so planning our house buying around not losing some of my garden produce is perhaps to get things out of proportion.

seed order

So the seeds have arrived, the potatoes are chitting and I’ll just have to hope that it all works out in the end.

* Errandonneering ride 10, as soon as I’ve worked out what category that comes under.


Hurry Up Spring

February 24, 2016

Cycling along with a companion the other day, we both remarked on how cheering it is to see the first flush of colour on the bare trees as the buds thicken ready to burst into leaf. It’s something we neither of us noticed until we moved up here; whether because living urban lives we weren’t as attuned to the passage of the seasons, or simply because we’ve got longer to stare at the leafless winter trees up here and try and imagine spring into happening, who knows.

first flush of spring

You can see it, can’t you?

We woke this morning to a surprise dusting of snow, with hard frost forecast again for tonight, so I suppose we should be grateful for any presentiments of spring we can get our hands on. And in the interests of full disclosure I should note that shortly after stopping to take this photo (and having a chat with the cyclist you see approaching in the distance, who turned out to be a neighbour who was combining triathalon training with the joys of utility cycling by dashing up the Col du Doctor’s Surgery to pick up a prescription) it began to sleet…


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