garden bits

In the shelter of a rosemary bush, some of the blue hyacinths are in bloom, though the ones further out were badly scorched by frost a few days ago.These are the survivors of indoor forced bulbs for Christmas five and six years ago … I’ve since decided that the scent is too overpowering to have them in the same room as me!

I’ve dug over the top bed and put up bean poles. Far too early to plant, but I do the bean wigwam first so that I know how many 7’6″ bamboos I have left over for other things.

garden waste

OK, I’ve given in. My nine-year-old compost bin – the “dalek” – has been repeatedly raided by rats and burgled by badgers (which have trashed the plastic hatch at the bottom), and clearly is no longer viable. The heap of non-compostable prunings and branches has reached a terrifying size. We’re into spring, so within the next couple of weeks it will no longer be needed as a refuge for overwintering animals.

So I’ve ordered a fortnightly brown bin garden waste collection. Hopefully only for a year, as I dislike sending potentially useful nutrients/humus out of the garden! But it buys me time to research and come up with suitable size compost facilities that are completely rat- badger- and anything else- proof! Something involving half-inch welded mesh is my initial thought.

garden bits

Sunny and mild today, which makes a change. The buds on the Worcester Black Pear (always the first) are opening.

Elsewhere, I’ve finally wrestled the oak tub that Mum gave me for Christmas into position. The seasoned oak is extremely tough: I didn’t manage to drill a single drainage hole using the 32mm flatbit before the cordless drill ran out of charge! Try again, using a smaller bit … the 25mm flatbit managed two holes per charge. Then fill with the contents of two old growbags and assorted pots, used last year for the tomatoes, liberally laced with fish, blood and bone fertiliser, and topped up with the last of last year’s bag of general-purpose compost. It’s all horribly squelchy at the moment, so will need to dry out for a week or two before planting.

It’s destined to have dwarf (patio-style) raspberries in it, but they’re perfectly happy on the windowsill in the spare room for the time being. Sadly, my large raspberries have failed to crop decently for two years, due to insect depradations – sawfly, I think. I’m determined to break the cycle, and the reason for going for dwarf raspberries this year is so that they’re a manageable size to spray with whatever organic pestkillers come to hand … milk, vinegar, and suchlike.

Also, because it was such a mild day, I gave the bedroom a thorough going over with flea powder – there’s been a problem for a couple of weeks. Applied at 11am, hoovered up around 3pm, and window in bedroom, bathroom and spare room all fully opened to ensure a decent through draft. Windows closed at dusk … there’s still a bit of a smell, but the flea powder does say it has a pleasing scent that lingers …. I think that’s all it is, as sleeping in an insecticide-laden atmosphere is not a good idea.


After a day of sleet with occasional snow that never really settled, dusk has brought a more serious attempt at snowing. Though the ground is still too warm for lying snow, the potted Christmas tree is starting to look as though it enjoys it!

snow (ish)

It’s alternating feathery snow and gentle sleet here this morning, so not really settling. But it’s slippery underfoot – too slippery for me, so I’ll have to give the International Womens Day walk that Hannah Cooper is leading a miss. I just don’t dare risk a fall at the moment.

The snow is just barely settling on the Christmas tree, and not really yet looking right for next year’s Christmas cards!

garden bits, Mum in hospital

A rare gleam of sunshine this morning lit up the flowers opening on the mahonia in a pot outside the back door. Otherwise, it’s been grey all day, and feels a lot colder than the 8C the thermometer shows … stove is lit.

Mum was taken in to JR2 on Friday, with most of the signs of a stroke though so far tests are negative. Most worrying are hallucinations and a complete personality change – she’s gone from being rather depressed about being largely bed-bound at home to being almost manically cheerful, which slightly makes up for an almost-complete loss of contact with reality. I visited yesterday (Sunday), but only stayed for an hour as she was becoming rather restless.

Between travel and waiting times between buses and trains, I was out of the house for nearly seven hours. It’s left me rather aching today, though surprisingly the knee ligament that’s given me trouble for the past week seems not to have been affected.

plant bits

I was absolutely sure that I had courgette sees left over from last year: I only sowed two seeds, and there must have been more than that in the packet. Nevetheless, there was no sign of courgettes in the seed box when I looked.

I’ve now ordered a replacement pack. It’s a sad state when the postage costs as much as the seeds! I’ve gone for “Soleil” again, as it was a success last year, with a genuinely compact bush habit, tasty yellow fruit, and quite prolific. I’m giving up on green courgettes, as they never do quite as well here, though I’ve tried several varieties.


I’m all in favour of snowflakes – whether it’s in a vase on the coffee table, or online being berated by the uncaring and addle-pated.

No nap this afternoon. I needed to de-flea the bedroom, which means leaving the powder on the carpet for a couple of hours. Then the hoovering it all up, and then thoroughly ventilating to avoid sleeping in an atmosphere of insecticide. Bedroom and bathroom windows and doors fully open, and front bedroom door and window as far as it normally goes … hopefully, not cold enough to upset the plants in front of the window there.


Chives spread everywhere in this garden, and I can’t restrain myself any longer. It may seem brutal to attack them when they’re so young, but tonight will the first cheddar-and-chive omelette of the year.