Friday, 20 November 2009

A quick update...

Frequent rain and other commitments this week have meant no time for gardening. But the autumn raspberries are still producing fruit, surprisingly!

The weather has been atrocious, with extremely heavy rain. Below is a picture of the river which runs past my house, I needed to work on it quite a bit to make it visible as it was very dark.
Just to give you an idea of the amount of water rushing past my windows, in summer its normal depth at this point is around ankle deep. If I was standing on the bed of the river in this torrent, the water would be well over my head! While we did have a flood watch in this area (around 30 yards away this river joins the much larger Irwell, one of the major rivers in northwest England), we did thankfully escape flooding this time.

I thought I'd post this while I have an internet connection as my broadband has been very patchy the last few days, I suspect that somewhere my line is running underwater!

Anyway, I'm off to mix up my Christmas puddings now, ready for cooking tomorrow...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Winter Has Arrived

For over a week we have had rain every day, so no opportunity to get outside. Strong winds have also removed most of the leaves from the trees now. But today we have had a whole day without rain!
Last night was the first air frost of the season, so winter has definitely arrived. I love the way it leaves droplets of water on the leaves of plants like this leek.
My vegetable plot gets little sun during the winter months and so the frost can stay on the ground all day; this photo was taken at 2 pm when the temperature was well above freezing, but crystals of ice remained in a few spots.
I was able to finish some plot edgings using the recycled flagstones I have obtained. This is a section of the plot which has a slope and the soil falls off the edge. The old edging was of wood and woven willow, but was rotting so I have replaced it with these flagstones. If I was a perfectionist the top of each stone would be level with its neighbours but I'm a pragmatist - these are recycled stones of all shapes and sizes and as long as they do the job, I'm happy. Hard, hard work, I still have lots of stones left so will be working through them all winter.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Christmas Cactus

It's a dark and wet day here today - these photos were taken at 9am and I needed the flash on the camera, so we are now well and truly into the traditional wet autumn weather. I have been doing some work on the vegetable plot, mainly putting paving stones in to create new edges for the beds. It's slow work as I can only move 3 or 4 in a session due to their weight. Still, the workmen did take them up to the plot for me, which was kind. There's another pile growing outside my house now.

So here are a couple of pictures of my first christmas cactus to flower (click on them for best effect). I have four, and a few years ago they started to reduce in flowering or flower partially at the wrong time. I consulted Dr Hessayon's bible of houseplant care and realised that they weren't getting the right kind of rest period in the summer. You're supposed to put them outside, in the shade, with little water so they can rest. If I put them outside here they would be eaten by the slugs and snails, so I had to think about how I could replicate the conditions. I realised that the coolest and darkest place in the house in the summer is on top of the bookcase in the living room so I moved them there last year. Then last winter I started to give them specialist cactus food, but they still didn't flower. I gave them the same treatment this summer and - hey presto - they are looking healthy and the first two are flowering. A lovely sight in these dark gloomy days.