Birds do it, bees do it…

But right now and most visibly, it’s the ladybirds. Everywhere. And it’s a welcome sight – I have red blister mite on the redcurrants, black aphids on black currants and ants are zipping up and down my broadies, no doubt carrying aphids to the tops. I could use some assistance!

I also have helpers during the interminable digging. Blackbirds are franticly feeding their chicks and are uncharacteristically brave, particularly the females, virtually coming to your hand to snatch a worm or seven. They happily scoff wireworms too. Less helpful are the magpies, who I’ve caught rootling about where I’ve stuck some rare (and chitted) climbing beans. The beetroot I set out this week is netted against sparrows. So far so good. The row of spares I stuck by the garlic wasn’t netted, and the poor wee things have nearly no leaves left.

This is a really chaotic time. It feels like there aren’t snough hours in the day – though part of that is down to the lack of rain. I make 26 trips with my 2 watering cans to keep the plots watered at the moment, twice a week. Trays are going in and out to harden the plants off. I want to get tomatoes planted, but that means getting rid of the shelving and my seedlings living on it are juuuuust a shade too far on the small side. My greenhouse is bursting at the seams, with a small avalanche of sweetcorn and squashes now set inside, plus 2 giant pumpkins. One of them is already bursting out of the bottom of a 1L pot. She’s suitably named Elvira the Enormous. Elegantly magnificent. Some of the seedlings are a little confused – I have had more than one squashette with its bottom bits waving in the air, head firmly in the ground.

For the first time ever I have enough space ready – I have empty beds a-plenty! Not only do I have the extra bed from Wendy (now 75% weeded – it’s SO much more work than I thought it would be!) but Andie’s said she won’t be able to use her half of #92 this year, so I’ve annexed it. Waste not, want not and all…:D It will be Elvira’s new home in a few days.

Four weeks ago I ordered some £5 trees in an end of season bareroot sale and they arrived a couple of days ago. The medlar is a lovely specimen, arriving with its roots in a scattering of soil sealed in a bag. The peach however was in appalling condition – no soil on the roots, so dry the branches had died back by about 20cms and with withered evidence of leaves and flowers. I’ve soaked it for 2 days to try and get some life back into it, and it’s now potted on with a lot of hope, but it’s a poor show from Suttons. From Twitter and reading allotment forums I know I’m not alone and some have arrived in much worse condition.

On a more positive note, I am just a day or two off my first strawberry! The scrawny little runners I potted into a couple of troughs have done me proud, with some absolute stonkers dangling over the edge. It is sod’s law that I am off to Glasgow for a few days (hence wanting to clear out the greenhouse before I go) and might miss out on more than the first two, but at least my wonderful waterer will get to enjoy them.

I still need to sow carrots, parsnips (eeep!), salsify, skittet, more dwarf & climbing beans, huazontle, kale, kohlrabi, cicoria, lettuce, root parsley…it’s a bit of a scary list!

Archie from Epsom RDA

It’s raining at the moment. Nothing decent, just persistent mizzle. It wouldn’t normally dissuade me from plotting. Unfortunately my anorak is also used on my RDA sessions. Archie likes using my anoraked shoulder as an itching post and it’s being washed to make it less horsey. So I am planting up the balcony with herbs and flowers. So far lovage, sage, thyme all done, fuchsia’s trimmed of all dead bits, a climbing rose is being persuaded to climb (fingers now covered in plasters!) and all the frost-burned foliage and flower buds are removed from the quince (small sob).

Dill, chives, root parsley, cosmos & trailing geraniums to go – the latter came as a freebie at the Garden Press Event in February and may be overcoming a lifelong hatred of their smell. I am reusing compost & that means sifting through for weevil grubs & squashing. This year I’m getting nematodes too, that’ll give ’em what for!

I want some astilbe and another climbing rose for the balcony – the scented climber from a few weeks back on GW sounds lovely and a good do-er in shade.

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