Sunday, 24 April 2011


The first broad beans are flowering well - and no sign of blackfly (yet)!

We've been very lucky with the weather this spring, though I fear we may pay for it later. It's been very dry, often sunny, and unseasonably warm on and off for weeks, as I've mentioned in previous posts. The plants are loving it - everything has bloomed and burst into leaf a week or two earlier than last year (when we had another miniature heatwave in April). The lack of rain hasn't been a problem here - heavy clay soils, and rapid growth (mainly of weeks) have kept the soil moist. I've tried to capture it with my new camera, but to be honest there's been so much going on, I've missed a few key things, like the plum and pear and apple blossoms in local gardens (including mine), and no doubt the blossom and wild flowers down the local woodland gardens (I keep meaning to go and harvest wild garlic; I need to get a move on if I'm to make it this year).

There was rain, finally, on Friday night, after a week of building heat. My thermometer registered 41.5ºC in the old greenhouse, and that's missing half its roof, walls, and door! The first batch of Cosmos is now in there, and thriving, and it's been joined by a few shallots I've yet to plant, nasturtiums, and sweet peas - I haven't got on with clearing the ground for them yet, and I've been too busy buying wood for the new greenhouse to have got grow bags (I have to bring everything home on foot, so it's a slow process). Indoors, everything is thriving - new arrivals include the first pumpkins and summer squash, which have germinated over the past couple of days. Three trays of tomato plants are now living outdoors during the day, but now the heatwave has passed (Saturday brought more temperate conditions, and night-time temperatures are set to go quite low for the foreseeable future) they need to be brought back in at night. Still, the first flowers are growing on one of the 'Jaune Flammée' plants; this is an early variety, but flowers in April is just nuts - I can only assume it's a favourable sign.

Can you see it? The first, tiny truss of flowers nestles in the centre.

The second greenhouse, meanwhile, is looking good. Today I am cutting the roof battens (which I had been mentally spelling 'batons', until I read about roofing) to size and shape, and will screw them into the frame later. I need to paint the whole frame before I attach the polycarbonate panels, and I haven't yet finished repairing the wall it's built against - and I need to do the part above the roof line before I put the roof on - or I won't be able to reach it (this is something I've learnt from my experiences with the last greenhouse project). It's tough to stop myself starting the 'glazing' now, just to see how it will look, because although it may feel like I am progressing faster, I have to do things in the correct order if the structure is to last and look good.

The wall is yet to be stripped of ferns and recoated, but the first four battens are up! (Note, they aren't attached to the wall, they are 'floating')

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