Friday, 27 February 2009

Snowdrops, finally!

They've finally opened, after threatening to do so for the last week.  This is one of the group in a pot on my windowsill - thanks heavens for the deep sills on my old house!  I opened the sash window and snapped it right there.

The weather has been rainy/windy and cold the last day or two, so no progress in the garden for the last few days.  Maybe this weekend...

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Cat Compost

It's been several days since I did any more heavy work as my back protested after last week's efforts!

So today I got back to it.  I finished the relocation of the second group of raspberries and tidied up the area:
The raspberries are on the left - most of them were previously at the top of the slope, clustered around the cat compost bin (the brown stuff you can see around the plants).  Cat compost (my name for it) is not, fortunately made from cats but from their byproducts - need I say more?  I use cat litter which is made of pelleted sawdust, environmentally friendly and compostable.  I put it in a compost bin for a year or so (at back of picture), get it nice and wet and let the worms get to work on it.  It turns into a really good soil conditioner and has helped my vegetables no end.  Since my cats cost me a lot of money in food, litter and veterinary bills, I like to think this is how they pay their way!

I wasn't sure about how good this stuff would be when I started but these raspberries proved it.  I inherited them rather than planted them and they produced almost nothing, I was going to replace them eventually but didn't get around to it for a few years.  After I placed a cat compost bin at the top of the slope one year and left the top off too long, the nutrients leached into the soil and the raspberries started to revive.  More than revive, they produced fabulous fruit on a diet of absolute neglect and cat compost!  So it must be good stuff, now I use it everywhere.

I've started the lettuce in a propagator in the house, they're doing well.

This is where they are going to go eventually - under this cloche which is now warming the prepared soil.

Friday, 20 February 2009


This is a miniature narcissus (I don't know the exact name) which I bought in Amsterdam in autumn 2006.  It bloomed beautifully in 2007, but did nothing in 2008 so I put the bulbs outside and forgot about them.  They were alternately dried out, drowned and nibbled by snails but a few days ago I noticed they had flower buds so I brought them inside.

Just goes to show that sometimes neglect is the best gardening technique!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Spring is on the way...

Well, all the snow has now gone and the temperature has gone up to about 10 degrees centigrade during the day.  Spring isn't quite here yet but the plants are starting to wake up now.  Here's my first flower of the year, primroses I keep in tubs and put on the windowsills of my living room so I can see them when sitting on the sofa.

I also spotted this pretty flower when out on my walk today, I don't know what it is, but it's a tall shrub in a hedgerow covered in these flowers. 

So now it's time to get outside and start gardening.  I pruned my clematis yesterday and have started to tidy up the pots around the house.  The snowdrops are nearly open, and the daffodils are making good progress.  My rambling rose is showing signs of life too - I really like this time of year, when new shoots start to grow and I can look forward to the summer.

In the vegetable garden, I have now finished moving the raspberries, will include a picture in my next post.  The onions are now in the ground under a plastic cloche - these are a great help in our latitude as they warm up the soil before planting and protect the young plants from extremes of temperature, wind and rain.  It means I can plant and harvest earlier than would naturally be the case.  Today we prepared an area for the broad beans (fava beans in American I think?), manured and composted it and then covered it with a cloche.  I'll leave it like that for 2-3 weeks for the ground to warm up a bit before planting the beans.  In some years I've actually got them in by now, but the soil was frozen pretty much constantly through December and January this winter, so prudence suggests I should give it more time this year.

Finally, I got around to something I've been meaning to do for 8 months.  I took a picture of myself for my blog profile.  It was a nightmare - both my partner and mother are technologically challenged so I had to do it myself.  I had to position the camera on the windowsill and press the shutter at arms length so if you look at it and think that my shoulders seem to be attached to my ears, you now know why!  Despite the fact I waited until I had my hair cut so as to be more presentable, I don't like the picture over much, and it did require 8 takes to get me looking human.  At least after the haircut I don't look like Marge Simpson at the moment, unlike some mornings when I bear a remarkable resemblance!

Monday, 2 February 2009