Wednesday, March 30, 2005

And we have germination!

Typical, I disappear for a couple of days over Easter and my tomatoes, lettuce and sweet pea decide to make an appearance. Last year was a disaster with all my seedlings dying at about 3 weeks. I couldn’t understand why. They had plenty of water, sunlight, space, fresh compost and were regularly turned, perhaps there was too much water, sunlight, space, fresh compost and turning? So this winter I was very careful to wash all the pots thoroughly so as to reduce any external factors adversely influencing the progress of my seeds. Trying to keep enthusiasm muted as I don’t want to get my hopes up again, but it’s still reassuring to see those delicate slivers of green stretching upwards. Even more exciting to know that some will be eaten and savoured (regardless of taste – because they will be fab!)! So far so good...

Retail therapy

I’m always little apprehensive on trips to the garden centre, acutely aware of the gaping holes (chasms) in my knowledge. But armed with my carefully prepared list there will be no tempting this time round. And no, I won’t budge on those 'buy 10 herbs for £10.00' although they do look really good… Be strong, you only have thyme on the list.

It’s amazing (you can tell I don’t get out much) how much variety there is and also the difference in quality from one garden centre to another. As we were browsing mom and I were wondering whether birds do prefer boxes with pointed roofs to sloping or flat ones? Is there a trend sweeping through the avian world where the property of choice features a pointed roof? Having said that I was really taken with the sparrow flats on offer – they were so cute... it’s such a shame that we just don’t have the room!

Managed to acquire most of the items on the list, so really looking forward to this weekend when I’ll have an opportunity to plant out all the new additions. I have to admit that this is my favourite bit of the shopping trip – getting your hands dirty!!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

My organized chaos!

The whole process of life from seed to shoot to leaves to bud to flower to seed is fascinating. Plants aren’t just inanimate green structures strategically positioned to show off their form and colour! No!?! They are also living, breathing, forces of life – yes my tree-hugger side has (finally) appeared.

In years gone by I have been quite content to have bare patches of ground instead of pesky weeds but perhaps that wasn’t the right approach to take. It’s probably better to have some unwanted plants hanging around and still soaking up all that CO2 rather than leaving the soil bare, ready to be baked by the sun. I don’t think that my (human) neighbours will approve – they probably think the garden’s a mess already! But I like to think of it as an organized chaos… a little bit of wilderness in south west London… great excuse hey?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Fauna friendly

Considering my attempt at a more mature approach to the garden this year I’ve compiled a list of seeds, shrubs, climbers, annuals, and those all important miscellaneous items that hopefully will encourage loads of insects, arachnids, mammals and birds into the garden. A friend suggested that we should have a buddleja in our garden to attract butterflies/insects but since it’s usually pretty big and the dimensions of our plot are relatively small it might be not such a good idea. He’s right on all counts – but I already have one!! It's obviously too large for the space but what do I care? As long as the bees and butterflies are happy I can tolerate the inconvenience of large stalks and leaves nicking me and everyone that journeys to the front door!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Six signs of spring...

Following the BBC’s spring survey I’ve been on the look out for bumble bees (first sited in mid February due to the flowering honeysuckle shrub which they seem to adore) and ladybirds. We identified a 7 spotted ladybird this weekend – the first time I can remember seeing one so early, well either that or I’m extremely unobservant!! I’m sure that the freakishly warm weather tempted it out for a wander! Of course there’s no chance of seeing frog spawn since we, and our immediate neighbours, lack a pond. During this month the BBC are interested in Peacock butterflies, swifts and hawthorn; so if you’re after more info check out their site (http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/wildbritain/springwatch/record/)

Now this isn’t strictly garden related but I was really excited yesterday as I noticed a bat on my way to yoga. It was circling above the river scooping up midges for what seemed like ages! I was surprised at how small it was with such tiny wings… I knew all those hours watching Batman cartoons and films weren’t wasted!!

Monday, March 21, 2005

A good spring clean...

Ah, feeling much better today since I have satisfied my gardening fix this weekend! The sunny weather during the last week has been a complete distraction as I was wishing that was pottering about outside...

Our front garden is the final destination for most of the rubbish in the area (or so it seems) courtesy of the wind. You can find anything from sweet and crisp wrappers to cardboard and plastic packaging to cigarette butts to bottle caps – and I think you get the gist! Psychologically half the battle is the removal of the rubbish and then you can concentrate on the garden stuff – all those weeds!!!!

Finally all the effort over the last couple of years is paying off as I was able to work through the most offending sections in a morning – this is something that was unheard of when we first moved in! The front is now looking more respectable as I have great plans for this plot….

Our new neighbours

We were curious when we first moved in whether the bird box above the garage was ever in use and, if so, by whom. Well the following year we were delighted by the arrival of a pair of blue tits. They are great… whizzing about, checking out the hood – I guess on the lookout for more grub (you can never have enough). One of the highlights of the spring is their continuous presence in the garden despite all the cats in the area (don’t get me started)…

Our wary duo are back again this year and I can’t wait for the faint chirping noises as mom and dad become more skittish trying to satisfy everyone’s needs!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Just soaking it all in…

It can be really frustrating when the weekend is jam-packed so you miss the opportunity to get outside and do anything. Then I have to remember that the garden isn’t just for ‘doing stuff’ but also for enjoying – be that inside or out. Sometimes it’s just lovely to sit back and absorb the view… Yes the new growth on the roses is impressive – must remember to cut them back in the autumn; What would look good in that space; Okay, tidy up the herb bed as there are probably hundreds of slugs/snails judging from the hundreds of holes in foxgloves!! See, I’m feeling better already, although not actually (well, physically) gardening, it’s never far from my mind. So it’s not really neglected… honest!!!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Spring snow

No one could have missed the snow over the last couple of weeks; a rare treat for us, since it doesn't usually settle in the capital. Waking up to find the garden smothered (about 2 inches thick) was a wonderful surprise. We've experienced a smattering of snow before but never to the same extent….

Of course I couldn’t wait to get out there and hear that satisfying crunch underfoot or admire the prints left behind!! I have to admit that the back garden looked as good as ever even though most of the vegetation was hidden (not that I’m biased or anything)!

But on a more serious note I hope that the snow hasn’t caused any damage to the plants, especially those that were trying to provide some colour during winter. And I’m pleased to report that, at least, the crocuses and snowdrops are still standing tall!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Compost to rave about?

Finally some compost to rave about! Not a subject that readily springs to mind as stimulating conversation but worthy of a mention … After a year of providing organic and garden waste for the bin we have received soft, crumbly compost (which actually looks like the stuff you buy – bonus!). Of course we can’t take all the credit as our bin is the ever popular hang-out for snails and slugs and other insects. We have been trying to create good compost for a couple of years now, but I think that impatience (me? never!) has only lead to a sludgy, smelly alternative. The excitement of the compost was almost eclipsed by the presence of my other half participating in gardening related activities! Not a usual occurrence believe me!!