Monday 23 April 2007

I got my parsnips planted yesterday; a bit late but not too late. After having problems with germination in previous years I tend to delay planting until I'm sure about the weather.

We've had light rain and drizzle all day here. It's badly needed.

Sunday 22 April 2007

I actually managed a couple of days off in the week, and I've been going like mad, trying to catch up on the allotment. I haven't had too much energy though, I've been too tired. I managed to mulch the spuds, with both beds now deeply buried in grass cuttings. Mice had a go at the peas and sweet peas, but the damage isn't terminal; it just means that one or two sweet pea varieties will be a bit thin on the ground.

I stayed late the other night hoping to see some bats; several were out in the gloaming, flying low up and down the lane, probably pipistrelles, as that's far and away the commonest. There was a kestrel out hunting a bit earlier, Venus was very bright, and I could see the dark circle of the moon in the arms of the new crescent, glimmering in the earthlight.

The bees are steadily building up, with two and a half frames of brood, and most of the frame in the centre full of it. They'll be popping shortly.

Tuesday 17 April 2007

I took these over the weekend; I was so tired after 35 teaching hours during the week, doing extra revision classes, that a long session I planned on the allotment turned into a couple of hours' aimless pottering. I even got there and realised that I'd completely forgotten to change into old clothes!

The Arum creticum is a mingy little thing, but it's the first time it's flowered in several years. As you can see, the Trilliums have been drooping in the heat; this is a habit of theirs as they really want all-day shade which I can't give them. They perk up overninght, and hopefully with the forecast cooler temperatures on the way, they should be better shortly. The garlic pic shows an early variety on the left, and elephant garlic on the right. The Broad Beans are coming up nicely, but I don't have many seeds in the ground yet; I tend to be pretty cautious about planting. I've started taking trays of seedlings down to the mini-greenhouses, much to Namissa's relief, and more's going to be planted this week.

I've got an easy week during the mocks; no normal lessons, and as I've got an odd student coming in for extra tuition, I've escaped doing any invigilation. So, at last, there's time to start catching up on myself.
The bee pic shows what happened when I knocked one of the boxes askew in one of the hives that had died out over the winter. An enthusiastic robbing seession immediately followed. It's obviously far easier for bees to steal honey than to make their own, and they do so to the point, sometimes, of wiping out weak colonies. The interesting thing is the the entrance to that hive has been left open, a couple of feet from their own, and they haven't found it. I use very small entrances, with mesh floors and false entrances to the rear, to confuse wasps, and it obviously works on bees as well. Since they're my own bees, I'm just leaving them to rob it out.
I had a look at the surviving colony over the weekend; they now have two frames of brood, and are beginning to expand nicely.

Sunday 8 April 2007

I've got the Rocket potatoes planted and mulched, planted a bed of Charlotte, and planted out Verbascum, Aquilegia and Hollyhocks that I've been overwintering in pots. It's been more like June than April today, but after last year, I hope it doesn't last to long!

The bees are still on a frame and a half of brood, and I spotted the first drone of the year, with a dozen or so capped drone cells scattered about. This is really early, and I heard yesterday of someone's hive swarming. This is exceptional for April 7th. I re-marked the queen, as the original mark had rubbed off. I've sent off a cheque for two nucs (nuclei - small colonies), which should go a long way towards replenishing my stock of bees. I've asked for ones with last year's queens, so I should have them shortly, and hopefully, I should still be on the way to a decent honey harvest.

Back to work tomorrow (yes, I know it'as supposed to be Bank Holiday) and I've got a week of seven hour teaching days, doing Easter revision classes. I'm not looking forward to it.

Saturday 7 April 2007

These crown imperials are looking cheerful at the moment, and I wish I could say the same for my more conventional orangey-red ones. these are sulking though, year after year. I find them pretty fussy; if planted in one spot, they do well; a few yards away, they do badly. The other clump do seem to get a little stronger from one year to the next though, so maybe time will sort it out.

I've really let myself in for it this Easter; I signed up for extra revision classes, thinking I'd just get a few, and I've been overwhelmed by the rush. i've been teaching every morning this last week, with the odd afternoon as well, but at least that gave me a little time for the allotment. This coming week, I've got seven hours' teaching a day, all the way through. It won't leave any time or energy for anything.

Meanwhile, of course, I'm getting behind again. I had hoped to use the holiday to dig over some of the ground I've left for the last couple of years, but there's been no chance for that. I won't need the ground for a couple of months though, so there's time yet. All the onions are in, and I'll be planting early potatoes (Rocket) later today, a bit tardily. I've bought a second mini greenhouse, which is going to be needed badly, and I've been planting seeds in pots; there are trays of sweet peas, and a couple of heritage pea varieties; Ne Plus Ultra and Purple-Podded. I haven't planted anything outside yet though apart from broad beans, which are just coming through.

I had a little old bean seed, which had shrivelled, turned blackish, and looked mouldy. I didn't extect it to do anything, but out of curiosity, I planted it alongside the new. To my surprise, it's coming up strongly.

Sunday 1 April 2007

I've acquired this over the last week; it's been sitting by the comittee hut for a couple of years, and nobody knew what to do with it. it's going to take a bit of work, but there's nothing to stop it being turned into a decent garden bench.

I checked the bees yesterday; they now have a frame and a half of brood, lots of pollen coming in, and they seem to be OK. I've found a local source of nucs, and I'm very tempted to get a couple. I can't really afford it, but the extra bees would make a real difference right now. Apart from that, i've been putting seeds into the mini greenhouse, and I've added a second. There's still a chill in the air in the morning, but it'll soon pass.

Back to work on Monday, teaching extra revision classes. It's destroyed my Easter break, but I need the money unfortunately.