There are birds everywhere. Small, noisy, nervy sparrows, bold robins, flashes of blue & great tits, crowds of starlings hopping after each other, mellifluous blackbirds, emerald green, squawking parakeets, woodpeckers tapping away in the distance, fat pigeons, bouncing magpies…It is a sheer joy just to sit and watch/listen to them going about their business. (And it means a break from digging!) I put some grass clippings down to mulch a row of peas and I can see it’s being raided regularly. There is a lot of chasing about hither and thither, so perhaps our birdboxes will be occupied soon. The ducks have abandoned us now though, having scoffed all the frogspawn in every pond on our field.

digging seasonThe South West London clay digging season is now officially open – oh yay! It’s still a bit claggy, and I can’t get the tilth as fine as I would like, but the greenhouse is creaking at the seams and needs very definitely must. The last of the potatoes are now in (Sarpo Mira, Sarpo Axona, Alouette, Pink Fir Apple – ready w/c 11 October), as are shallots from seed and all the peas. I’ve even moved my fig tree into roomier quarters – though now I need Himself to come for one of his fleeting visits, because I can’t lift it! The battle of the beans is also up and running: my overwintered field beans versus some HSL broad beans and field beans. Michelle kindly took some as I don’t have room for everything. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do.

 battle of the beans purple-podded peas

Japanese pie squash seedsMost of the squashes I sowed turned horribly leggy – the price of going away for a weekend! I’ve resown in the greenhouse and added a few more for luck – my seed sowing plan is fast disappearing! One variety, Japanese Pie, is also known as Chinese Alphabet Squash because of the unusual markings on its seeds.  They are from Baker Creek, which has an amazing selection of open-pollinated winter squash.

happy garlic May 2016Over on #92 the garlic is really enjoying the sun – most of the plants are up to 6 leaves each, which means that the bulbs below have 6 layers of paper-thin wrappers. I’m hoping they get to about 10 or so before harvest time so they have a good layer of protection while they are drying.

greenhouse May 2016I mentioned the greenhouse was getting a bit crowded. Five trays of seedlings have moved from flat to greenhouse, another 5 will go over the next couple of days – if I can find space on the shelves! Then the heated propagator and growlights can be packed away and that will be it for another growing season. On the plus side we get our breakfast corner back and it makes space for the dehydrator to come out.

rhubarb vodkaAnd to end on a very happy note, some of my rhubarb’s starting to really rocket along. I’ve pulled a few stems, and, as I promised myself last year, it’s been vodkarised! My recipe is – 3 short stems chopped into 350ml vodka with about 40g caster sugar. It’s a beautifully delicate pink, ready in a couple of days and definitely won’t last long! Though I think it would also be good in a wine punch, with more rhubarb juices, a squeeze or two of lemon, lots of ice and a bottle of prosecco. Note for Maggie – this is one to try at our big dinner later in May…we might need to ‘test’ it a few times!