Monthly Archives: May 2012

Ladybird Lovin’

Just a quick post today, been very busy recently and this weekend is no exception. It was the Chelsea Flower Show yesterday and company BBQ today (food all being done by yours truly). Then Scott is doing the London to Brighton Night Ride for the British Heart Foundation. Along with my gardening van, I’m part of the team’s support crew, which basically means driving down to Brighton in the very early morning to collect bikes and sleepy riders.

The weather has been El Scorchio this last week, so I’ve been popping by the plot most days just to try and keep up with the watering. Tomatoes are ready to go out, but I think they’re going to have to wait a few more days…

The future looks aphid free for them though, as I have been seeing an incredible number of ladybird beetles on the plot (aka Ladybugs if you’re North American like me). As I’ve been weeding, I’ve been carefully moving them out of the way. Unlike me, the hot weather isn’t slowing them down at all and they’ve been very frisky. When I see lots of ladybird nymphs soon, I’ll be a very proud auntie.

(Another fantastic video by Scott)

Getting Cagey

Despite the lousy wet weather of April, our fruit bushes have been doing nicely. Okay fine, it’s really weedy, but I don’t want to think about that too much. However, no pesky nibblers or mould or anything nasty really.

We had always intended to build a fruit cage as there are an awful lot of wood pigeons and magpies around our site. I had worried about them snitching our lovely ripe fruit, but I was warned that they will also go after the fruit flowers. Makes sense, with so little food about, flower nectar must be irresistible to them. So we decided we should get  a cage built and up as soon as possible. Simon got inspired and did up a drawing in Google Sketch Up.

The Ultra Super Fruit Cage

Simon got the frame work up and I ordered some netting from eBay. I stopped by the plot just before the weekend and sure enough I caught two wood pigeons happily snacking away in the strawberry patch. After running about, yelping and waving my arms about like demented thing, I realised we had reached a Code Red situation with the fruit patch.

So on Sunday we unravelled several square meters of netting, armed ourselves with a B&Q Value wood stapler, we started to get the netting up. Even though the process resulted in me using the kind of language that would make a sailor blush, we did manage to get the netting on. At one point I managed to get myself tangled in one section. As I struggled to free myself, Scott declared, “look it works, it’s catching birds already!”

Looking good.

However, I did manage to misjudge how much netting we needed, so the back and far side of the cage aren’t really covered. I’ve ordered more netting and I think it should be fine in the meantime, I just hope we don’t get an attack from a group of savant pigeons that are able to figure out how to get in.

Bother

An Explosion of Activity

The recent rain has been keeping us off the plot for the most part, but as the rain has let up a bit recently we’ve managed to get a few things done. Simon was toiling away last weekend setting up the frame work for our fruit cage. We’ll be needing it soon as the currant bushes are already starting to set fruit! So far no bird damage, but I feel we’re operating on borrowed time here. In typical fashion, the netting I ordered off of eBay arrived as I was at the plot this morning. I’ll have to find so time in the upcoming week to collect it from the local Royal Mail depot and put it up next weekend.

Fruit cage.

It’s a thing of beauty.

Currants

Baby currants.

There’s also been an explosion of growth thanks to all the rain, mainly in the form of weeds. Scott and I are going away for the long weekend, so I took the day off work to get ready. In between doing the laundry and running errands, I naturally spent a couple of hours down at the plot. A full wheelbarrow load of weeds later, things were looking much tidier. The soil was still very moist, so I kept my efforts to removing the “biggies” like nettles, thistles and %#&^%&! bits of artichoke that insist on springing up everywhere.

Beds

Before: super tidy!

Beds 2

After: not so much.

Even through the curtain of weeds I can see lots of seedlings fighting their way though. Radishes are going strong, I just kind of wish I hadn’t packed so many in, as they’re getting really over crowded already. The beetroot and most of the herbs are coming along as well. I did have to lean right over the beds and peer at the soil surface from about two inches away. I kept thinking I was just looking at more weeds, but I could often just make out the long, deliberate line of seedlings. I even managed to keep my dignity by not falling face first into the wet soil. Leaning over the mounded beds with my backside in the air was undignified enough…

I’ve even managed to add a few decorative touches to the plot. The bee house got an added lick of paint and was made to match our shed, which was suggested by our flatmate, Lindsay. I think it was a stroke of genius and I love the little matching buildings.

Bee house

Looking rather spiffy.

I was doing a rather wet and muddy garden clearance on Thursday and we spent all day pulling masses of ivy off an old brick wall which was due to be torn down. Lots of rotten rubbish was uncovered, but I did find a lovely terracotta bust. Covered with ivy for years, I loved her rather rough looks and slipped her into an old compost bag and then into the back of my van. I just hated the idea of her being dumped into a skip, so she now resides by our herb patch. I’ll get some reclaimed bricks and give her a proper pedestal. Just need to come up with a name for her. I was thinking Matilda, but am open to suggestions. Any ideas?

Bust

Who could resist that cheeky smile?