Wednesday, 24 February 2010

A winter walk and discovering a secret landscape.


Once again over the weekend we had snow, I can't remember a winter like this. At least this time it was only a light dusting but it gave a nice excuse to go for a walk accross the fields towards our neighbouring village, Pidley.  This lovely old oak tree stands in one of the fields, I doubt this is the worst winter it has seen or will see. The field in the forground is planted with rape, which would normally be about a foot tall by now but is only forming a slight green carpet on the surface of the soil it being held back so much by the cold.
Also on sunday I discovered this wonderful secret landscape.

It is growing on the roof of our garage. Lovely clumps of moss which are all fruiting at the moment. I never bother clearing it as it not only looks pretty but the birds love digging around in it looking for food.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Changing times

It has been  noticable over the last few weeks that the seasons are changing. For a  few weeks I had been letting the chickens after I had taken Sharron down to the station in the morning, now it is light before we leave  and they are fighting to get out.  The other thing I notice at this time of year are the lovely sunrise skies we get here, like the one above which is a view across the fields behind the house. Unfortunately I am normally driving into them on the way back from the station which is not so good!

In the garden the bulbs are poking through and the seeds I planted in my greenhouse raised bed have germinated so hopefully I will have fresh homegrown salad in a few weeks. I am fighting back the urge to start planting things, I have some onion sets sitting on the desk in front of me, but I know its to early to put them out. What I will do in the next few days is to cover the ground with some black polythene to start warming the soil and surpress some of the weeds.  I will also start mulching and digging in compost  in the next  couple of weeks.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

and then the cat ate my Bourbon Biscuit!

So there I was writing a comment on Lucy's excellent blog entry when i look up to see the last Bourbon biscuit disappearing into the cat!

Well I suppose thats one way I am going to keep the weight off! She normally try's to steal my lunch especially if it's cheese but chocolate biscuits are a first.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Laying concrete and a trip on the Cam.

I spent Saturday morning laying some concrete in the garden. I was re-enforcing the base of the Chicken coop to prevent vermin getting in. Several people in the village have told me that there are a lot of rats around at the moment, they come in from the fields and ditches during the hard weather. By replacing the wire mesh floor of the coop with concrete it just makes sure nothing can get in and gives the hens a nice dry floor to stand on.

Saturday was a strange day, when I went down to St Ives it was lovely sunshine, by the time I got back there was thick fog, it just went downhill from then just cold and grey.

The weather on Sunday was much the same, I had decided to go kayaking and wasn't going to let that put me off. I went to a place called Upware on the river Cam. Upware has an interesting history, in the 1850's it was the home of the Upware Republic formed by one of the Cambridge university clubs complete with it's one Parliament and money. This was replaced in the 1870's when Richard Fielder declared himself the King of Upware, he spent his time at the 'The five miles from anywhere in a hurry' Pub where he had a six-gallon beer jug known as 'His majesty's pint'.

Anyway I parked at The five miles from anywhere in a hurry pub where there is a public slipway into the river and went for an hour and a half paddle.

As you can see the river was running quite high and the weather was cold and grey. It was nice to get out on the river and unsuprisingly apart from a couple of fishermen I had the place to myself.

The weather actually got worse and after it started to rain I decided to give up, mainly because I had left my waterproof top at home, not very clever!

Later that afternoon we went to Ely with our neighbours for tea. We went to a little tearooms called Peacocks on the Waterside. It is a great place selling over 50 varieties of tea from all around the world and if you don't like the one you have ordered they will change it free of charge, well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A frosty morning

It's another lovely bright frosty morning here. We have had a few of them in the last week. Needless to say not everyone enjoys them on Monday 9 cars ended up in one ditch near here, yes 9 which says something about the driving style around here! I should add the road is dead straight!

The frosts are great for the garden especially for soft fruit such as Blckcurrent. They need a good cold snap to prompt them mto give a good crop later. The other things that will benefit are the native tree seeds we collected in the autumn to grow on to replant a local hedgerow. These require the cold weather to stimulate germination.

I went over to the gallery that will be hosting the exhibition of my photos in June to discuss how much space I will need. I am really excited about it but also very nervous. I am going to have to print and frame quite a lot of work in the next few months The other thing I need to do is take more photos, I want to do some images of spring flowers, everyday I am checking the garden for anything in bloom.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A weekend in the garden at last!

I have been suffering cabin fever recently, I have been looking out at the garden under a blanket of snow thinking of all the things that needed to be done out there. So when I got up and saw a lovely sunny day on Saturday I couldn't wait to get out there.

One of the things I have been meaning to do was sort out the greenhouse. I have always planted directly into the beds in the greenhouse, but to be honest the soil in there is not that good, a mixture of the natural heavy clay, compost and John Innes 1,2, and 3 that have been added over
time. To sort it out I decided to build a raised bed in there which could be covered to make a giant seed tray.

The first thing to do was cut the wood I was going to use, treated gravel boards are ideal. It also meant I had an excuse to use one of my favourite toys!

I made the first of the 2 levels and placed it in the greenhouse it's about 2.2m long and 0.5 m wide. Rather than fill the bed with seed or potting compost I filled the bottom with a mixture of my partly rotted compost and leaf litter. I did this as the leaf litter will provide good drainage and will slowly rot with the mixed compost, this will produce heat warming the soil above.

I then placed the 2nd level on top of the first, I didn't fix it in place this will allow me to lift it off in the autumn making it easier to replace the soil.

I then topped it up with fresh compost

I have sown a mixture of salad crops already, so hopefully we with have some fresh produce in a few weeks.

Now I have got my new bed I have decided to rethink how I use the greenhouse. In the past I have used the floor beds for Tomatoes and Chillis, this year I am going to grow these in pots on the staging and use the bed for salad crops.

My next job in there is to build some new staging, lets hope it's sunny next weekend.