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Survivors

We survived the night. The frost, which did hit some parts of Lincolnshire stayed away from our garden and I am happy to report that the plums are ok. Temperature got down to 1.2℃ so was close but all is well. Just finished reading a diary from the Second World War. This sounds a bit similar except the WW2 version talks about surviving bombs rather than frost.

Went out for my 30 minute couch to 5k session. Have reset it to week one as my body has grown into disuse so to speak during the lockdown. The Lindum sports ground is handily placed down the road from us for this. My first C25K effort was done on a treadmill in the gym but I sense this will be much better. 

Whilst at the Lindum a couple turned up and set their dogs free on the pitch. No dogs allowed supposedly! Then I noticed it was the groundsman. I wasn’t going to say owt 🙂 On the way back it got busier with more pedestrians, runners and cyclists. Evasive action had, on occasion, to be taken. People’s characters, and perhaps self confidence, come out at these times. Who avoids eye contact and who doesn’t. Inneresting.

Back in the garden I note that social distancing is also needed in the raised beds. At some stage soon I will need to start thinning out the carrots and parsnips and continue to do so with the lettuces. The lettuces that have been given the space are now developing strongly.

Back from Tesco click & collect pickup at just after 2pm. Big ole queue to get into the shop itself and the car park didn’t seem that full really. Click and Collect is the only way to do it really although it doesn’t offer quite the same shopping experience (obvs). What I mean is when you wander around the store you see things and chuck em in the trolley on the spur of the moment. You can’t do that with Click & Collect although I do try replicating the experience by browsing the website. Probs end up spending a lot more as I keep amending the order right up until it closes.

Today I bought a basil (bayzil) plant in a pot. This has now been repotted to a slightly larger one for growing in the greenhouse. The basil seed I used was old and yielded nothing. The 15 year old old spinach appears to now be coming through in the trough in which I recently liberally planted it. That could prove to be a result. Planting the Tesco bought basil seems a good compromise considering I haven’t got any seed. See the video.

It is still quite cold out. 13℃ although it feels colder. Warmer times are on their way but not for a day or two and we have to remember this is the good old Uniteed Kingdum. Snow in August etc.

Aside from having a greenhouse website my day job is related to the internet industry. I was meant to be at a conference in Berlin this week. Not being able to travel does mean I get more done but the conference socials must continue and I am participating in a virtual (and secret – invitation only) cocktail party at 16.45 BST so greenhouse related blogging and activities must end then. 

Ciao amigos.

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The long wait

In this life of ours we spend a fair bit of time waiting. Waiting for the seasons to change, for the crops to grow and waiting on hold for Eurostar to answer. That’s an hour of my life I won’t get back. What’s more I have to call them again as my train isn’t until 25th May and hasn’t yet been cancelled. None of this goodwill here’s your money back now to save you the effort of having to call up again. My specific train has been cancelled every day for weeks now.

We were going to Paris to see Paul McCartney in concert. This is now not happening. Might well have been the last opportunity to see Macca again. Who knows. It matters not in the great scheme of things.

All is quiet in the greenhouse. The new heater seems to make about a 1℃ difference – see the comparisons in the pic below. The middle line is inside the greenhouse and the bottom bluish one is outside (the top one is inside the shed). You can see a wider difference overnight between inside and outside the greenhouse compared with the past few days before the heater was installed. Good eh?

temperature chart

At around 85 Watts the heater isn’t really powerful to completely heat up the greenhouse but at least it takes the edge off.

The lawn is going to need another cut soon. I did read somewhere about letting parts of it grow to encourage wildflowers. I get that but whilst our lawn is a reasonable size it isn’t so big that we have parts of it we could ignore for a while. Maybe there is scope near the deck outside the shed.

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After the rain the wind still blows

The weather is wonderfully inclement, so to speak. The shed is a great place to take shelter from the wind and the rain. It’s not really raining much but it is certainly windy. The leaves have been blown off the tulips and the apple blossom is mostly gone.

Came into the shed mid morning to do an online tai chi class again. Did the first one last week and figured it was a good thing to continue with. Yesterday was such a nice day that I switched the heater off in the shed and had the doors wide open to the garden. The same is not true today and the heater is back on. Interesting to see the gradual dropping of the shed temperature overnight. Shows how good the insulation is.

shed temperature drop

Made another sourdough loaf before breakfast. At least made the dough. I’m going to try proving this one over a longer time period and maybe in a tin. See how it goes.

sourdough

Just started to make inroads into my new book DISHOOM “From Bombay with Love. So far so good. It’s the kind of book I’d like to write.

Just been out to check on the heater in the greenhouse. Adjusted the thermostat so that it came on. Current temperature inside the greenhouse is 10.62℃ so now it should click on when the temperature drops that low. Can’t believe it will make a huge difference but we shall see. Innit. 

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last nice day for a while

Lovely slow start to the day. Done a turn around the garden and now starting to think about breakfast. It’s our last warm day for a while. The heater is plugged into the greenhouse but switched off or at least the thermostat turned down. V handy having power in there. It is 30 odd degrees inside the greenhouse at the moment. The extended irrigation system seems to be working fine.

weather forecast is for cold

I have had to turn off notifications from the BBC Lincolnshire Sunday Gardening group. Was getting spammed by folk posting pictures of flowers. Even pics of gardens nowhere near Lincolnshire. I tried to fiddle with the settings but it didn’t seem to make a difference so have just switched notifications off completely. I can just dip in every now and again when it suits.

It is a perfect time of year to be confined to the house and garden. We are fortunate in having a good space. It is going to be great being able to pop to the pup with the boys or have a BBQ with friends but I’m not sure I’m missing the travel at all. Can’t see myself wanting to get back into that regime again. People cooped up in flats or small houses must be going crazy though.

In other news the beetroot has started to poke through. I think I might plant some more. We have some spare troughs and plenty of compost. Anne’s apricot is also fruiting. This was produced from a clipping off her dad’s apricot which was trained along the south facing wall of their house and very successful. 

It is a pure delight to sit out on the patio. I have an espresso coffee and Hannah to keep me company. There is no rush to do anything. Hannah is doing some cross stitch and Tom is building a trestle table. There is plenty of colour around us.

Spent most of the morning preparing nosh for tonight. Chicken massala with naan bread. Also crumpets for afternoon tea. Hannah helped by making the marinade for the chichen. The kitchen looked a bit like a bombsite with flour everywhere. Never made naan bread before but am optimistic. Gonna cook them over the fire pit.

The crumpets however I am not so confident over. Didn’t follow the instructions exactly and added salt and water too early. See how it goes innit.

Restarted the couch to 5k. From the beginning. Didn’t want to rest the app as that felt defeatist so I’m going to do 30 mins every day until I’m at the week 5 stage. Don’t really need to have a day off in between. We are fortunate in having the Lindum Sports Ground up the road. The perfect place to exercise. There was one other person at the other end of the field being far more energetic than I.

This isolation business needs a lot of working at it. It’s far too easy to take a “the end of the world is nigh so I’m going to eat and drink what I like” attitude. It is also hard work having the family stuck in the house. Hard work isn’t really the right way of putting it. It’s just that everyone boils over from time to time and we just all have to understand that things aren’t the way they normally are.

I just noticed that the garlic is really shooting up. My biggest is now 50cm tall. Wow. Not sure how high garlic plants grow to but they have really been shooting up innit. Looking forward to a great garlic harvest whenever that may be.

Sat in the shed with the doors wide open to the garden and the wind has blown some dead leaves in.

The curry tastes great. Switched it off now so it doesn’t reduce too much. Will heat it up later. Gin and tonic in hand. Next up move some tomato plants into the greenhouse and light the firepit. Naan was also a triumph. Not perfect but I learnt a lot from the first effort. Next time will be perfect 🙂

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VE Day

Very emotional today, it being the 75th anniversary of VE day, the end of the war in Europe. I was born 16 years after the end of the war and it was still very much in human consciousness. My dad was born in 1934. I’ve seen some suggesting it is time we moved on but it is too big a thing for me really. Went out for a 5 mile walk with Anne, Tom and Hannah. Down to West Common and back stopping off at the coop garage on Carholme road for ice cream.

There has been some greenhouse action. I extended the irrigation system to cover some of the plants on the staging. There aren’t enough drips to do all the pots but the system spec is limited to 24 anyway and they are all in use. Will still have to do some manual watering but that is fine. The butts are probably down to ⅓ full so unless there is a lot of rain soon will have to fill them from the hosepipe.

Check out this vid. It’s a longun but packed with interesting stuff obvs.

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lettuces thinned but plum tree damaged

Sbeen a lovely day. Anne cut the lawn and it’s looking good. Started off badly though. I had covered the plum tree last night just in case we had frost. As it happened the temperature did drop to 2.5℃ so it was reasonable to do this. Unfortunately this morning when I nipped out to take the cover off I found that I’d damaged the end of one branch. No plums damaged but I was seriously gutted to see what I’d done. It will recover – or at least another branch will grow to fill the void but nevertheless I was very disappointed. 

There is a distinct chance of a cold snap coming up so will need to consider the options in respect of plant protection. The overnight greenhouse temperature is the same as that outside but I guess there will be protection from frost inside. Also I’ve ordered one of these low wattage greenhouse heaters which arrives tomorrow – well before the cold snap is forecast. If it comes to the crunch I can move the ten outside tomato plants back into the greenhouse although I am more worried about the plums.

Plums are looking good I have to say. Everything looking good right now. The repotted tomato plants are thriving outside although I’ve spotted some leaf curl on one of the biggest in the greenhouse. I was looking at the stream on this website whilst in bed early this morning, as you do, and noticed that the irrigation system was working. Had forgotten to switch it off. No matter.

Whilst I was at Waitrose I spotted a chilli plant loaded with chillies and reduced to £1.09. Barg. It was in a bit of a state hence the reduction. Leaves not looking healthy. When I got home I reported it and gave it a drink. It is now in place in the greenhouse so hopefully it will be ok. If not I can probably use the chillies already on the plant.

In other news thinned out the lettuces a bit and had some for lunch with balsamic dressing. V tender 🙂 Also made my first sourdough loaf using Joe’s starter. Not yet in the oven at the time of writing but will keep you updated.

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Chilli peppers potted

Saturday

Beautiful beautiful morning. Before breakfast I headed out and potted a couple of chilli/peppers (I know not which – they look the same to me) into the two remaining medium sized pots. Then I rearranged the plants on the shelving for the best position for the timelapse. This involved moving the small pots out of view of the camera. They aren’t going to be here long. Either someone will take them or they will get put in the ground to see what happens.

Anne presented me with some spinach seeds to have a go at. The use by date was 2007 so may be a bit dodgy but nothing ventured. I’ve put them in a trough in front of the tomatoes. Could do with a few more different seeds really. Cuke, spring onions. 

Had to cut a piece out of the hosepipe as it had started leaking and I was getting soaked every time I used it. It is now about six foot shorter.

Although we have a good space to be at home in it does feel a bit like we are in a zoo with no visitors during lockdown. Maybe in the lion enclosure. We have a good sized bit of ground to parade in but are more used to roaming around the vast expanse of the savannah.

Sunday

Weather is a repeat of  yesterday really. Ideal spring day. Nowt to do greenhouse or gardenwise. Participated in my first online Tai chi class this morning taken by our friend Paige. I was the only bloke there but didn’t matter. Everyone was on mute anyay for the class. I would do it again. The shed is also a studio 🙂

Did a bit of tidying up in the shed. Putting pictures up, finishing oiling my desk, clearing crap off the shelves. That kind of thing. Joe and I are now listening to Hugh Masakela on vinyl. 

Chicken pie for tea tonight. I may crack open a beer shortly. All is well in the shire.

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If I ruled the world…

Today is the first day of May. It has been a pleasant morning and I have had the shed doors open to the garden although the other inhabitants have in consequence had to go and put on a pullover. The apple trees are still in full blossom. Moderate rain is expected later. All is well.

There has however been an incident in the raised beds. Something has been digging there and this time wrecked some parsnips and covered a few coriander plants with compost. This is despite the CD bird scarers being up. No idea what is doing this. A cat maybe? Dunno. Bit annoying.

Otherwise the main gardening action today is going to involve sticking some tomato and pepper plants in pots and depositing the pots beneath the kitchen window. This spot gets the most sun in the back garden. I bought 20 x 35cm pots from tesco the other week in order to do this. Really they are a bit on the big side and take a lot of compost but it’s all we have and I don’t have to fill them right up although that does look a bit odd. Anne has suggested putting some rocks in the bottom to assist with drainage but I’m not sure we have a sufficient supply of suitable silicon (4 x s – see that?).

Birdsong seems at its peak right now. They all seem happy, oblivious to all this coronavirus lockdown stuff. They would be whistling a different tune if we were talking about avian flu. Featured image is our beech hedge close up.

If I ruled the world then every day would be the first day of May. May your curve be on the downslope and your R number stay below one 🙂

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Fling open those doors

Another morning in the shed, doors flung open to the garden. It’s not exactly warm but not cold and I’m wearing a fleece. Rain is forecast for this afternoon. We need to enjoy all weathers.

There are three of us working in the shed during this period of isolation and a fourth using the conservatory. Anne tends to be everywhere, wherever her presence is required. John, the fourth offspring doesn’t appear until after noon.

Tomorrow, I’ve just realised, is the first of May. This heralds the planting out of tomatoes plus a few peppers and chillies there won’t be room for in the greenhouse.

We did see some rain but nothing to write home about. I found another “baby” snail in the marigolds and dispatched accordingly. This one hadn’t bothered retreating and was just curled up in its shell. It may have been the victim of the slug pellets I’d put down after seeing the activity the other night. The pellets caused some consternation on the Radio Lincolnshire Facebook Gardening Group. I hadn’t realised how controversial they might be – poison and all that. Well the snails are no longer in the greenhouse. Good.

In other news a letter arrived today postmarked Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore, NHS Fundraising Hero 30th April 2020.. This is quite a famous one – if you are reading this in the year 3020 look it up. History is happening around us.

I am now chillin in the shed listening to music. LOUD MUSIC. It’s fish fingers, potato wedges and peas for tea tonight. Good stuff. Will finish off the Tesco click and collect order before the day is out.

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Slug in the greenhouse and rainfall calculations

We caught on video what I think is a slug crawling around in the greenhouse last night. I was fast forwarding the timelapse with the wheel on my mouse to cram the whole night into 1min 20secs of video. It is dark so the clarity is not perfect but you can still see the pesky varmint crawling around. It must be a slug as it is taking some time to move. The video lasts one minute twenty seconds. Although the main plant killing action is around 50 seconds in there is a fair bit of movement to view in the runup.

I have now scattered liberal amounts of slug pellets around in an attempt to thwart said slug in the greenhouse but it remains to be seen whether that works. Bar steward. Slightly annoys me when pests start undoing your good work. I know I am not alone in this. You feel violated. Ah well. In this case the bedding plants are actually Anne’s good work but the same applies.

On the avian front today I have seen a blue tit, blackbirds and magpie in garden. Not all at once. Yesterday the magpie chased away a blackbird. Not v friendly.

The rain last night hasn’t really made much of an impact on the water level in the butts. Of the two butts the squarish one is approx 33cm squ or around 0.1 sq m and the round one is about 60cm across or .36 sq m giving a total of .46 square metres surface area. Let’s call it half a metre square. Into this feeds rain falling onto roughly 7 sq m of greenhouse. There is roughly 30cm left to go until the butts are full which is around .14 cubic metres of water. My back of a beermat calcs suggest we need 2 to 3cms of rain to fill the butts or approximately 1inch, if you followed all that. I haven’t shown all my workings. No idea how much fell last night. I’m guessing maybe an inch in the butts so one seventh of that, assuming all the water that fell on the greenhouse went into the butts.

It is 10.5 degrees ish out right now and I am wearing socks. It’s been mostly flip flops for the last week or two so it does show how the weather has changed.

Footnote – Keeping an eye on the greenhousecam last night I spotted movement amongst the marigolds. The offending snail was found chomping away at a plant and has been removed. Nuff said.